Sometimes, you feel there is a topic that is vastly under reported that deserves more attention and study, and the fate of Iraq's cultural and historic inheritance under the US occupation is certainly a issue that deserves a exhaustive account. However, there is a small line between a informed work of scholarship and a raving polemic. Unfortunately, large parts of this book displays the characteristics of the latter. It is all to clear that this has been written by authors belonging to the extreme left-wing, as all the cliches are here( US&Israel involved in a dastardly and nefarious plot to exploit/destroy hapless third world countries). Its almost as if the majority of the authors took a field trip to the bazaar in Sadr City, tape recorded every perceivable conspiracy theory around, assembled it into a book and published it as fact.
Space and time dont allow me to address every point, but if i had to choose 3 of the major faults it would be:
1. The obsessive Israel fixation in the book. What was particular revealing was Glenn E Perry's chapter about "Cultural cleansing in Comparative perspective", where he gives the usual lecture about Israeli cleansings a whooping 5 pages(in a 12 page chapter), while the cleansings in Bosnia barely gets a measly page, almost a token inclusion and figleaf to make it not look as onesided. We also see this tendency in the dealings of foreign meddlers inside Iraq. Nations such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, who have each played a major part in inciting and orchestrating the calamity in Iraq is barely mentioned and possible Iranian involvement is casually brushed aside, instead the authors focus on flimsy and limited Kurdish-Israeli cooperation. I know the authors need to pay lip service to the anti-Zionist readership, but give me a break. Guess there is a reason why some of the readers who have bought this have also bought Henry Fords "The International Jew"
2. Portraying the killings of Iraqi academics as similar to US assasination programs in Vietnam and the Americas is also flawed. The Leftist professors were actively symphatizers and supporters of communist movements, thus it made sense eliminating them as an ideological force. No such corrolation exist today in Iraq between the academics and professors and to the ideology that is the most serious threat to Iraqi democracy, namely Islamism. As is quite obvious, the higher the education degree of a individual, the more secular is he likely to be. And yet, the authors try to convince us that the US would deliberately remove such a secular bulwark, people that should by all circumstances been potential allies! Neither does linking the professors to Baathism make sense, as those with higher party roles were largely canned in the Bremer purge of 2003-2004. How does this square the fact that the targetting of academics really started to sky rocket in 2005 and beyond?
3. They fail to offer a convincing arguement as to the motives of US supposed wanton and deliberate destruction of Iraqi society. Why would the Bush administration dole out billions for reconstruction in that case? How would the declared policy of letting Iraq become a "democratic domino piece in the Middle East", a project that was supposed to be a shining example of democracy, square off with the claim that the US seeked total fragmentation of the state? Why does the authors believe that the US sinisterly and cunningly from the start calculated this plot, while they were apparently too stupid to realize it would serve Iranian interests? And even so, why should attempts to democratize a political culture that was for all purposes built on authoriatarianism, corruption, militarism, xenophobia and rank Anti-Semitism and has plagued Iraq's people for 40 years be considered a bad thing? All these logical pitfalls and inconsistencies severly denigrate the books overall message.
The reason i do not give this a one star is the fact that a few of the criticisms are valid(such as US military building bases in archeological sites and the clumsy handling of the rioting immediatedly following the invasion). Chapters 4, 5 8 and 10 are chapters that are both informative and useful. However, the majority of the book delves into conspiracy theories and unwarranted assumptions.