Monday, September 7, 2009

Dark Victory: America's Second War Against Iraq

By Jeffrey Record
203 pages US Naval Institute Press 2004 978-1591147114
A prominent national security analyst provides a critical examination of the origins, objectives, conduct, and consequences of the U.S. war against Iraq in this major new study. Focusing on the intersection of world politics, U.S. foreign policy, and the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Jeffrey Record presents a full-scale policy analysis of the war and its aftermath. As he looks at the political and strategic legacies of the 1991 Gulf War, the impact of 9/11 and neo-conservative ideology on the George W. Bush White House, and the formulation of the Bush Doctrine on the use of force, he assesses rather than describes, judges rather than recites facts. He decries the Bush administration's threat conflation of Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda, and calls U.S. plans inadequate to meet postwar challenges in Iraq. With the support of convincing evidence, the author concludes that America's war against Iraq was both unnecessary and damaging to long-term U.S. security interests. He argues that there was no threatening Saddam-Osama connection and that even if Iraq had the weapons of mass destruction that the Bush administration believed necessitated war, it could have been readily deterred from using them, just as it had been in 1991. Record faults the administration for preventive, unilateralist policies that alienated friends and allies, weakened international institutions important to the United States, and saddled America with costly, open-ended occupation of an Arab heartland. He contends that far from being a major victory against terrorism, the war provided Islamic jihadists an expanded recruiting base and a new front of operations against Americans.
The book contains no illustrations and makes for a tedious read, no matter how many facts, mistruths and a litany of claims and statements about a pointless war that to date has cost the lives of over 5,000 Americans.
This book is another in the annoying series on the war on terrorism from the Naval Institute Press. This rather Let us only hope that the publisher returns to what it does best – naval history – and stop straying off into new fields.
A better fit for the publisher would have been an examination of the naval part of the operation. The work would have been a better fit with another publisher.

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