The book opens with a description of the daily lives of Iraqis in the wake of sanctions that affect every aspect of their lives, from electricity to drinking water to car repairs to textbooks to medicine. It also explains why the hoped-for effect of sanctions-that the Iraqi people would blame Saddam for their suffering-has not materialised. Subsequent chapters deal with the history of Iraq, the Ba'ath Party and the rise of Saddam, the official opposition, the relations between Iraq and its neighbours, the intelligence activities of the relevant players and the crucial role played by oil in the history and politics of the region.
The book ends with, and leads up to, a list of comments and questions divided into three sections. The first deals with the frequent questions and comments that form the basis of the British/US case for war against Iraq--including the familiar description of Saddam himself as a terrorist, a harbourer of Al Queda, a threat to his neighbouring countries, a murderer of his own people and a gross violator of human rights. This first section is followed by a list of less frequently asked questions and comments that seriously question the legal and moral authority of Britain and the United States in embarking upon war. For instance, did American inspectors and other staff working for Unscom spy for their government? Is it really reasonable to expect a sovereign power to fully cooperate with a supposedly neutral UN inspections team when they know for certain that it is largely composed of American spies and that the information will be used for the accurate bombing of that country? Is it true that as Iraq's disarmament progressed, the US kept shifting the goalposts, forcing Saddam to conclude that no matter what he did, Washington would never allow the sanctions to be lifted? What are the implications of the US unilaterally adopting the doctrine of pre-emption in the international arena? The book closes with a set of questions submitted by Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on March 7, 2002-questions that never received answers but which the reader is now in a position to answer for themselves.
If you're looking for an education on the historical background to the recent war then this succinct, accessible and highly informative book is for you. --Larry Brown