Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: The United States And Iraq Since 1990: A Brief History with Documents

Review: Brigham, Robert, Ed., The United States And Iraq Since 1990: A Brief History with Documents, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014

This is meant to be used as a college textbook on U.S.-Iraq relations. It briefly goes over the history of America’s ties to Iraq starting with the Cold War up to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. It then has chapters from the Gulf War up to the Obama administration. After the war, the first President Bush and Clinton both wanted regime change and backed various coup attempts all of which failed. That led to containment via U.N. sanctions and inspections along with occasional air and missile strikes. Neither administration liked the policy, but there were no alternatives because they did not want to invade Iraq to remove Saddam. That was the policy that the second Bush inherited, but he went where neither his father nor Clinton was willing to go by using military force to finally get rid of Saddam. The invasion was over quickly, but the lack of planning and the fractured Iraqi society the U.S. found led to years of chaos and insurgency until Bush double downed with the Surge in 2007. Finally, President Obama had been opposed to the war while a senator, but ended up taking on many of his predecessor’s policies. He wanted to withdraw U.S. combat troops, but maintain a stay behind force to help stabilize Iraq. That didn’t work out, which is where the book ends. The two themes of the book are that Washington has been deeply involved in Iraq’s affairs since 1990, but was never able to influence Baghdad the way it wanted. After each chapter there are several primary source documents to further explain the time period followed by a few questions that are to be used by teachers and students for further discussion. Given how long the U.S. has been involved with Iraq it’s surprising there aren’t more similar textbooks in print. The book is a quick read and a good guide to U.S.-Iraq relations for beginners.

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