If what is shaping up to be the worst foreign policy disaster in U.S. history has an upside, it is that the current war in Iraq should definitively, permanently settle a handful of critical questions about American conduct in the world. This book provides a list of those questions and even ventures some answers in the form of key lessons from Iraq. The idea of assembling lessons as tools for avoiding the next war is less of a stretch than it seems, given the group of writers represented here. They include a Nobel Prize-winning economist; the former chief UN weapons inspector; and an Iraqi American whose weekly conversations with his relatives have given him a grim education on what living through a war to spread democracy is like on the ground. Also here is a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner who traces the recurring American bad habit of starting wars as tryouts for big ideas. All societies need a ready reference handbook that draws some lines around its conduct of war. The Bush administration has produced a radical overhaul of the U.S. manual. Given the Iraq experience, it is urgent that we reject this version and think again. This book is a manageably sized, accessibly written, affordable compilation of key points that most urgently need to be rethought.
“America’s future will be one of endless war unless we can come to grips with the deceptions, the lies, the reckless doctrines, the politicized intelligence, and the dishonest accounting that brought us the Iraq war. Read this compelling set of essays and join the movement to prevent the next war.”
—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Blood Rites, This Land is Their Land, and Nickel and Dimed
“Assessing the wreckage caused by the Iraq War is an urgent national priority. This timely, immensely thoughtful, and justifiably angry collection gets that process off to an excellent start.”
—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War
“If a main reason our government went to war in Iraq was to reassert American authority after 9/11 exposed our vulnerability, the actual consequence—as these incisive and important essays make clear—has been just the opposite. Not only have we paid dearly in blood, in treasure, and in damage to American liberties, the decline of our credibility and prestige has led to a sharp reduction in American power. We tried to show that we are strong and made ourselves seem weak.”
—Aryeh Neier, President, Open Society Institute
Chapter 1: The Dangerous Leap: Preventive War Neta Crawford Chapter 2: American Imperialism: Enabler of War Chalmers Johnson Chapter 3: "An Untidy Cost of Freedom"? Spreading Democracy by Military Force Anas Shallal Chapter 4: Ideas Floating Free: War as Demonstration Model Frances Fitzgerald Chapter 5: A Motive Hiding in Plain Sight: War for Oil Michael T. Klare Chapter 6: To Avoid Future Iraq-Style Quagmires, Reduce U.S. Global Military Presence Ivan Eland Chapter 7: Hidden Wounds and Accounting Tricks: Disguising the True Costs Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes Chapter 8: Lies, Spies, and Legends: The Politicizing of Intelligence John Prados Chapter 9: New Frontiers of Media Manipulation Norman Solomon Chapter 10: America's Slide: From Leadership to Isolation Jeffrey Laurenti Chapter 11: Inspections or Invasion: Lessons From Iraq Hans Blix Chapter 12: Coalition of the Coerced Phyllis Bennis Chapter 13: Monarchic Pretensions: The War Power Grab Fred Barbash Chapter 14: Torture No More Aziz Huq Chapter 15: The Shadow Army: Privatization Janine Wedel Chapter 16: Invitation to Steal: War Profiteering in Iraq William D. Hartung Chapter 17: The (Iraq) War on Civil Liberties Jules Lobel Chapter 18: War for Peace C.K. Williams