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Summer 2004 cover

National Observer Home > No. 59 - Summer 2004 > Book Reviews

Book Review: Iraq

by Dilip Hiro

London, Granta Books, 2002-2003, pages 264 and index, $24.95

Born in India, Hiro settled in London and has become a well-known commentator on international issues. Iraq was written by him in order to provide a picture of that country immediately before the U.S. invasion in 2003. It is interesting in providing a critical analysis of U.S. policy in regard to Iraq, and particularly in regard to the severe sanctions that, under U.S. pressure, were imposed upon it. He discusses the large number of Iraqis who have died through deprivation of medicine and the general and severe hardship suffered by the population as a consequence of American policies. In his view these sanctions enabled Saddam Hussein to strengthen his grip. (It may be recalled that none of the subsequent difficulties with Iraq would have occurred if President Bush in 1991 had not adopted the pusillanimous and inappropriate course of calling off the American advance and saving Saddam Hussein.)

Hiro makes many interesting observations, supported by appropriate sources, in regard to the recent history of Iraq. Thus he is prepared to make politically-incorrect statements about the role of Israel in the Middle-East – Israel provided false information to the United States on Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" - and the fact that Israel is a constant cause and catalyst of Arab hostility towards the West. He quotes Prince Khalid al Faisal, "It is very frustrating to see our people [Arabs] killed every day [in the Palestinian Territories]; you see them on television, you see women and children being bombed by American warplanes, American helicopters, American tanks and American money. This is disturbing. We think the Zionist movement is using this opportunity to make Islam and the Arabs the enemy of the West."

Iraq is an important book. It provides a different perspective on American policies in the Middle East. It should be read by those with an interest in these questions.

R.M. Pearce

National Observer No. 59 - Summer 2004