I purchased this book because I am a centrist on the war issue and was hoping it would present logical and cogent reasons against war with Iraq. While I was eager for persuasive and compelling arguments I was also expecting that the book would take a fair-minded look at BOTH sides of the issue and then reason convincingly against a war with Iraq.
It didn't do that, instead it took every pro-Iraqi statement as being the gospel truth while everything that was damaging to Saddam was relegated as disinformation. After reading the book I felt that I had just read a propaganda guide put out but the Iraqi Information services.
Where is the evenhandedness that is fundamental to deliberations of this magnitude?
Should not the specifics, both pro and con, be presented? Of course they should, but the book neglects this miserably.
I was also looking for a synoptic background of Saddam Hussein and his rise to power. Devoid of crucial background information, the reader is ill-equipped to make any deductions about what potential action(s) should or should not be taken. Remember the old saying: Those who do not know history are apt to repeat it. Regrettably the author believes that there is no relevance in the history of Iraq.
I was enthusiastic that the book would delineate how Saddam Hussein has changed and why he can be trusted in the future? In other words, what should be done about Saddam's reign of terror and mass genocide he has performed on people both before and after the Gulf war? It is of somber concern to me that the Dove's do not exhibit compassion for the hundreds of thousands of people who have been tortured, raped and executed by Saddam's regime!
Everyone is aware that the most liberal/anti-war organizations have written some of the most damning reports on this regime, for example Max Van der Stoel's who was the UN's special rapportuer for human rights in Iraq, reported to the United Nations that the brutality of the Iraqi regime was "of exceptionally grave character - so grave that it has few parallels in the years that have passed since the Second World War."
While the book has many weaknesses one of the worst sections (considering whom it was written by) is the assertion that a country does not have authority to bomb another country. The authors strangely back this up by using UNSCR 1411 and then seconded that with Article 51. While this is an interesting and novel way to say this war is illegal it would be easier to quote UN Charter Article 2 (paragraph 3 and 4) for this certainly has more weight than the authors argument. But even if you combine those two arguments together there appears to be some legally convincing reasons for war such as:
1925 and 1949 Geneva Convections (Treatment of prisoners, use of WMD, purposeful targeting of civilians)
Violation of the Vienna Conventions of diplomatic and consular relations
Violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty of 1993
Violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention
Violation of UNSCR 687
The above are 6 WELL KNOWN arguments for a LEGAL war; the book should have given at minimum a cursory attempt to discredit one of them!
To be fair the book did tackle one known argument for a legal war it is what is known as the legal principle of "anticipatory self-defense". It stated however that this has never been endorsed.
OH REALLY, I guess the authors hope that you have had you head in the sand for the last 41 years. Just a few examples:
1962 Cuban Missile Crisis
1981 Strike on Iraq's Osiraq Nuclear reactor
1982 Exclusion zone around Falkland Islands
1982 Sweden's use of force declaration against submarines found within 12 miles of its shores.
1998 strike on Afghanistan
1998 strike on Sudan
1999 Action in Kosovo
The most farcical part of the book is the claim that Saddam does not have the ability to build a nuclear weapon. The authors simply disregard 98% of the Untied Nations reports. They also overlook all of the illegal shipments of banned weapons, weapon parts, and logistical components that have been seized going into Iraq since 1991. The proof is extant; and well documented. In 1990 Saddam had a nuclear weapon sans the fizzle material. The vast preponderance of authorities agrees that Saddam will have nuclear capability in 3 - 5 years. But I guess these geniuses know more than anybody else.
The facts are clear that Saddam made more than $2 billion in 2001 smuggling oil out of the country. (Please refer to Petroleum Intelligence Weekly for more statistics) If you add up all the money he has made smuggling over the last 10 years, you know where he gets the money to build his WMD. Plus what little is left over he can add to his collection of billion dollar palatial estates. (Just imagine if he took this money and helped his citizens with it. Well, that would be the RIGHT thing to do wouldn't it)
I still feel uneasy about this war, but the more Anti-war books that I read with their simplistic argumentation, radical leftist interpretations of the facts, and general deception about the substance, I fell that I am becoming more hawkish every day.
For those yearning for an evenhanded treatment of facts about this multifaceted and difficult issue this is NOT your book. This book is a one-sided polemic that will only gratify those whom are dogmatically Anti-War.
Why two stars then? Not for content, but rather sympathy; for trying what might be impossible.