The war in Iraq is becoming more and more unpopular, according to the polls. President Bush’s approval rating keeps going down; as of this writing, it is in the 30s. Americans might not support the President and other leaders in this war, but they do support those in the Armed Forces.
Many scholars say that this war is starting to resemble the war that the United States fought in Vietnam. Anthony Arnove is one of these, and he is following Howard Zinn’s example (Zinn wrote a book in 1967 entitled Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal). In his book, Zinn made the case that the United States should have gotten out of Vietnam because many American soldiers and Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were being killed and hurt in a wasted war that the United States was not going to win. He suggested that it was better to get out sooner than later in order to save lives and to let the Vietnamese work out their problems without outside interference. Zinn provides the introduction to Arnove’s book.
Arnove discusses what most people are beginning to see as the truth: that the American and British administrations misled the world into thinking that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of having weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) when he was not; that Iraq had no connection with al-Qaeda and were not involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks (it is only now that al-Qaeda is in Iraq in strong force). Arnove examines the illegal actions of the British and American governments by controlling Iraq by bombing them over the years after the Gulf War in 1991 and making the people of Iraq suffer from sanctions. He also reviews the history of Iraq and how it was treated under the Turks and then the British. He also reminds readers about the friendship that the U.S. had with Saddam Hussein even when he was gassing the Kurds and others. Hussein had been a close ally of the West and received many weapons to counteract the threat of Iran upon its neighbors, especially the oil rich countries of the Persian Gulf. It was not until Hussein decided to invade Kuwait that he fell from favor.
The Clinton administration inherited the Hussein problem from the first Bush administration. Many critics would say that the Hussein problem stuck in the Bush family’s craw and that President George W. Bush wanted to remove that no matter what. Some say, as does Arnove, that Bush only used the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to invade Iraq.
Many leaders thought that the war in Iraq would be quick, that the Coalition forces would get out quickly and that the Iraqi people would welcome the Coalition as liberators. This has proven not to be the case. In this book, Arnove points out that the bringing down of the statue of Hussein was staged and that very few Iraqis were actually involved or cared about it. It has proven to be harder for the Coalition to keep the peace in Iraq; insurgent attacks have been increasing, and Al-Qaeda is now in the country taking advantage of the situation. The American administration keeps saying that Iraq will be better once it elects a democratic government and that the Coalition forces can leave. They propose that the new Iraqi government and army can be strong enough to keep order. Arnove and others pose that the Iraqi Army is not strong enough and their government is beholden, even subservient to the U.S.
Arnove suggests that this has turned into a mess which the United States and its allies need to let the Iraqis deal with in their own way. The main reason the U.S. and its allies are concerned about Iraq is that it is the second largest producer of oil and that they want to have control of that.
This book is interesting, timely, and a good read. It will either be a book with which you agree or that will piss you off at the author or at the American government. Arnove quotes many other sources so he is not going it alone or picking things out of the air. There is an extensive endnote section and he provides an index.
Anthony Arnove has a PhD and MA from Brown University. He is the co-author of Voices of A People’s History of the United States (2004) with Howard Zinn. He is the editor of the book Iraq under Siege (2003). He is the author of articles in The Financial Times, The Nation, Mother Jones, Left Business Observer, Monthly Review, In These Times, and other publications. He has appeared on BBC, Sky News, and other television news shows. He also spoke at the February 15, 2003, demonstration in New York City against the war in Iraq.