In some ways, this book is a great deal more distressing than the various pundit books slamming Bush (Moore, Hightower, Frankel, Krugman, Carville, etc.) because there is not a single caustic turn of phrase, not a single line of satire, not a single double entendre in the entire work. This is a brutally straight-forward, earnestly researched, ably footnoted, totally credible review of all of the secrets and lies that led to the war in Iraq.
It did not quite bring me to tears, it did very nearly make me want to throw a chair through the garden window.
According to this book, and its incontrovertible documentation, we were lied to. We were deceived. Untold fighting men and women, not just from the US but also from other countries, have died and been wounded and according to this book the number of wounded is CLASSIFIED. It is a secret, an official secret from the American public, how many of their sons and daughters have died to support this ideological conquest, this extremist religious crusade. We must also acknowledge the thousands of dead Iraqis and the hundreds of thousands of displaced and impoverished Iraqis.
Another official secret from the American public are the results of the open survey by the Department of State of how the Iraqis feels about the US invasion and occupation--classified AFTER we discovered that Chalabi had lied to Cheney and there were no hearts and flowers, only hostility.
Yet another official secret from the American public is the estimate of the damage done by US forces to the Iraqi infrastructure, and how much it will cost the US taxpayer to pay for this mindless destruction in the heart of the Middle East.
Not discussed by the author, but very much on my mind, is the jungle drum word from the retired veterans with access to Bethesda and other military hospitals---on the basis of the 250,000 disabled veterans from Gulf 1, and the "word" filtering out from the wards, we are looking at upwards of 25,000, perhaps as many as 100,000 disabled veterans from this war--all from depleted uranium, a killer of our own making. Worse, this disability is multi-generational and will lead to blind and maimed children among those veterans who are able to have children.
This book is a cold-hearted look--so cold-hearted it ignites a flame of righteous anger in any careful reader--at how America has destroyed its credibility and its ability to have a positive influence in the Middle East.
If I have one small criticism, it is that the author, a stellar authority with solid sources to call upon, did not do an appendix that laid out an entire timeline of what Bush and Blair said that was false, and then the counter-vailing truth. Although the author makes a number of these points clear throughout the book, for example, the UN never passed a resolution calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein from power, an opportunity has been lost here.
Truth matters. Paul O'Neil is correct to speculate that we will heal ourselves, and equally correct to point out that this will happen only if we speak and hear the truth about these grievous circumstances in which great evil was done "in our name." This book, more so than the others that I cited above, is perhaps the first serious building block toward righting our ship of state.