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Ministry of Defeat: The British War in Iraq 2003-2009 [Hardcover]

Richard North
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 May 2009
This book presents a damning analysis of Britain's military involvement in the Iraq conflict. "Ministry of Defeat" is a devastating account of military and strategic incompetence. When Tony Blair insisted that British Armed Forces form part of the invasion of Iraq, little attention was paid as to how this might work out in practice or what the consequences might be. Here we have for the first time a detailed account of just what an abject failure Britain's military intervention in Iraq has been. The British occupation of south eastern Iraq has lasted six years, a period longer than the Second World War. Despite the astonishing bravery of countless individual soldiers the only real success of the British Government has been to hide from view, thanks to catastrophic misjudgements, this has become one of the most humiliating chapters in British Military History. The British Army leaves Iraq in July 2009, ahead of schedule, and the full story of the campaign needs to be told. Richard North presents in considerable detail one of the most painful and lasting legacies of the Blair era.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum Publishing Corporation; 1st ed edition (31 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441169970
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441169976
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 15 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Richard North was born in 1948 and brought up in North London. He has in recent years won a reputation as one of Britain s most expert defence analysts, through his Defence of the Realm blog. Formerly a research director in the European Parliament, North is also a political analyst through his EU Referendum blog, which examines Britain s place in the world with particular reference to its membership of the European Union.

He has co-authored four bestselling books with the Sunday Telegraph columnist Christopher Booker, including Scared To Death: From BSE To Global Warming, How Scares Are Costing Us The Earth (2007) and The Great Deception (2005), a comprehensive history of the European Union. He is the author of Ministry of Defeat (2009).

Product Description

Review

'Book of the year ... An admirable investigation of Britain's most rotten ministry, it helps explain the questionable performance of British troops and especially their equipment in Iraq, with tales of incompetence worthy of the trenches.' -- Simon Jenkins, Times Liteary Supplement

About the Author

Richard North is a political analyst who has been a research director in the European Parliament and was formerly a nationally known consultant on public health and food safety. He has co-authored several books with Christopher Booker.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars British Army`s "Unfinest hour" 28 Jun 2009
Format:Hardcover
Richard North has written a devastating history of the British Army`s involvement in Iraq. He has stated his case with a lot of verve and passion. He should rightly take some credit for highlighting the "Snatch landrover" scandal, but in many ways the book falls short of its considerable promise.
For instance, the book almost invariably cites references to newspapers` coverage of events but the author does not appear to have interviewed many significant individuals involved in the conflict who might have shed greater light on some of the wider issues involved - he does not seem to have interviewed any US politicians or military for their input, and I was also surprised to see he was not able to access any major documents from US under "Freedom of Information". I find it difficult to believe that there are not some rich pickings from US diplomatic, military and intelligence sources on their views of the British involvement.
Mr North also takes aim at Tony Blair re his opportunism and lack of reality but then again Blair was no novice in the employment of military forces as John Kampfner has set out in "Blair`s Wars" - he committed British forces to action five times in six years. Where Blair seems to have fallen short is poor selection of politicians of a sufficient weight and stature as Defence Ministers to exercise robust oversight over the conduct of the war, and particularly the military, in Iraq and that he probably should have made some changes in senior personnel similar to Bush`s overhaul of his military ie the appointment of Gates as a "heavyweight" Defence Secretary, Petraeus as forces commander etc.
And it is in this sphere, the conduct of the war on the ground and its political supervision, Mr North has tended to "pull his punches".
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ministry of Defeat... about sums it up. 8 Jun 2009
Format:Hardcover
Ministry of Defeat is the first and only forensic examination of the political and military failures by the British in Iraq. As the government, the media and the army were quick to downplay the unfolding catastrophe as the birth pangs of democracy, the evidence from the front line was telling a very different story. Ministry of Defeat explores that evidence and paints a picture of Southern Iraq very different to the popular narrative.

Richard North highlights the political indifference to military procurement and outlines the staggering, willful ignorance of the media and senior members of the government who should have known better. He also points the finger at a military establishment, untouchable in its arrogance, which not only refused to respond to threats but actively denied them.

North demonstrates how procurement has a direct impact on any force's ability to wage a successful campaign and highlights the critical failures which lead to the deaths of scores of soldiers and countless Iraqis. He also shows how the political realities in Iraq were swept under the carpet to the detriment of public debate and subsequently policy. Unlike any soldiers eye view, in Ministry of Defeat we get a holistic view of situation on the ground and how it relates to events in Westminster; A tale of political opportunism, military incompetence and most damningly of all, a systemic parliamentary failure to scrutinise military affairs.

This is a unique perspective on the British experience, not swept up by the macro politics of the Iraq war or the decision to invade and it brings to light the much neglected questions pertaining to inadequate armoured vehicles, namely the Snatch Landrover, counter terrorist strategy and the stagnation in the chain of command. North was one of the few asking not how do we pull out, but how do we win?
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some light shone into a dark void ! 6 July 2009
Format:Hardcover
I have used the title 'Some light . . ' because that is what this book is. Dr Richard North has only 256 pages to explore a massive issue so he has only been able to cover part of it in this excellent book. The part that he does cover he covers encyclopiedically. The book covers the British Armed Forces defeat in Iraq primarily from the standpoints of procurement errors, policy and tactical doctrine errors and the worst error of all - a failure to learn from our mistakes and correct our policy and tactical doctrine on the ground from our mistakes. The book starts by providing a brief history of the military occupation of Southern Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. As is usual in Dr North's books the narrative is well crossreferenced to footnotes to verify each statement. There is also a good quality gallery of photos - some of them very interesting & original. As the book goes on the historical narrative starts to show the confused changes in policy and tactical doctrine on the ground, changes often driven to suit the timescales and press schedules of politicians in London. The problems and restrictions on tactics caused by unsuitable equipment are reviewed in forensic detail. Dr North became well known for his campaign against the deployment of Snatch LandRovers. With his reputation on that subject and a limited number of pages he concentrates on that issue as an example of the procurement fiascos but also covers, in less detail, shortage of usable helicopters, counter-mortar equipment (which was already in service but not in Iraq) and unmanned surveillance drones (UAV's). Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Ministry of Defeat: The British War in Iraq 2003-2009
All rather depressing but a useful exposé of the crass waste of taxpayers' money as well as of the execrable decision making at the head of Government. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Stumps
5.0 out of 5 stars john
I have just read this book, The Ministry of Defeat, and without any sense of modesty, I'd like to summarise thoughts that occurred to me while reading it. Read more
Published on 21 Feb 2012 by john
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
written by one of the guys who has constantly been exposing utter stupidity by the MoD is a real shame the story has never really been followed up by the press. Read more
Published on 27 Sep 2010 by Christopher Mahon
4.0 out of 5 stars Shining light in dark places
For those of us who try to stay abreast of current affairs via the British press and BBC News, there are certain areas of obscurity which somehow we never penetrate. Read more
Published on 4 Jan 2010 by A. Wright
4.0 out of 5 stars Ministry of Spin.
I am glad that I bought this book. It was about time that someone grasped the nettle and let people know what had gone on in Iraq(and is still going on in Afghanistan). Read more
Published on 10 Aug 2009 by P. King
5.0 out of 5 stars A blunt instrument
"War is an engineering problem" - so said one of the few successful generals of WW1. In this book, Richard North describes how the Iranian-backed militia found an engineering... Read more
Published on 3 Aug 2009 by Gareth
3.0 out of 5 stars I was there
Packed with information very interesting not quite as I remember it, how ever written from an anti war bias with hindsight
Published on 17 July 2009 by M. R. Neighbour
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading
This is an astonishing book and should be required for any reader with a serious interest in the Iraq War. Read more
Published on 16 July 2009 by J. McNeill
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