The United States has mismanaged the Second Iraq war through a misunderstanding of Iraqi politics, history, and national identity.
According to the Bush administration, the war in Iraq ended in May 2003 when the president pronounced mission accomplished from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. Yet, fighting, resistance, and American casualties continue. Stephen Pelletière argues that it is Iraqi suspicion of the Americans' motive—the belief that the United States is out to tear the state apart—that is fueling the current rebellion. Resistance in Iraq has become a national struggle, tied to the mood of Iraqis generally, as well as to anger fed by experiences of the whole people over the course of the last quarter century. Americans see Iraq as a failed state because they lack knowledge of those experiences and of Iraqi history. That is what Pelletière has set out to remedy. In doing so, he relates American behavior in Iraq to the wider sphere of U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf specifically and the Middle East overall, positioning the war as part of a larger geo-political struggle that encompasses not just the Iraqis or the Iranians, but the Israelis and all of the other client states of the United States in the Middle East.
Reviews "Pelletière's interesting and thought-provoking read could find some use in the classroom. Political science classes would find it useful as a demonstration of the consequences of ignoring the history of institutions and of focusing only on the present. Upper-level history classes on Iraq, the Middle East, or imperialism would benefit from it for similar reasons."—Peace & Change
"Pelletière gives readers his interpretation of the American invasion of Iraq and why he thinks that Americans, including many in charge, don't understand the politics going on there. . . . Pelletière has written one of the clearest books available on the political situation in Iraq and how it came to exist. This book will be useful to virtually anyone trying to better understand Iraq and the Iraqi's reactions to the United States."—MultiCultural Review
"Since the easy victory in 2003, the war in Iraq has become a nationalist struggle, fueled by inept U.S. policies, against perceived threats to the country's future; this has wide implications for the region as a whole."—The Journal of Military History
"Pelletière is a former CIA policy analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War, instructor at the US Army War College, and the author of several previous books, two on the US and oil politics (e.g., America's Oil Wars, CH, Feb'05, 42-3684). He has earned a reputation for assertive, controversial positions, and, as in his earlier books, he argues that US involvement in both Iraqi Wars was driven by a neocon, pro-Zionist, military-industrial cabal with the desire to control oil in the Gulf regions and to assure high corporate war/reconstruction profits. His litany of the colossal errors, misjudgments, and calamities of the Bush administration, especially by Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Bremer, and the neocon coterie, has been well established by others, but Pelletiere adds several new twists. Most importantly, he deems the Iraqi Baathist state totalitarian and cruel but legitimate, because Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds were essentially committed to a unified state for which they have been willing to fight and die. He contends that the insurgency was not external, but homegrown and US-inspired. . . . [T]he book is a compendium of interesting tidbits of information. For those with enough background to separate dross from gold, it is worth reading. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."—Choice
"The American efforts in Iraq are based, in rhetoric at least, on the premise of rebuilding a failed state. Pelletière. . . rejects that view categorically and argues that if such delusion continues, the American people will never understand the events of the war, in particular why such a large number of Iraqis who are neither die-hard Ba'athists nor religious jihadis are so determined to resist American occupation. In trying to set the record straight, he describes the events of the initial invasion, the near complete failures of US intelligence about Iraq prior to the invasion and during the occupation, relations between expatriate Iraqis and native Iraqis, and the role of Iran in the occupation. Two of his major topics are perhaps most notable: the history of the Iraqi Army. . . and the true motivations for the American invasion, which he sees as part of an overall plan to preserve the Middle East client system of the Cold War."—SciTech Book News
Endorsements "I have known Dr. Stephen Pelletiere for many years. I was the senior official in the Department of Defense responsible for the intelligence business of the Armed Forces of the United States in that region of the world. Dr. Pelletiere is by far the most gifted and accomplished analyst of Iraqi events and history whom I have ever met. His grasp of the underlying causes of the tortured events in the Northern Gulf which led to the Gulf War is superb."—Walter Lang, Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia, and Terrorism (1984-94)