Thursday, February 22, 2024

Review Iraq and the war on terror, Twelve months of insurgency 2004/2005

Rogers, Paul, Iraq and the war on terror, Twelve months of insurgency 2004/2005, London New York: I.B. Tauris, 2006


During the Iraq War the Oxford Research Group would issue monthly reports on developments in that conflict and the state of terrorism in general. Iraq and the war on terror, Twelve months of insurgency 2004/2005 by Paul Rogers collects together several of those reports from 2004-2005. Those were probably very informative when they came out but today they are a bit dated.


Each chapter in the book covers one monthly report by the Oxford Research Group. They don’t solely focus upon Iraq but cover other countries and issues as well such as the Bush administration, the war in Afghanistan and the Intifada in the Occupied Territories. Four things stand out about the Iraq and the war on terror.


One was that the U.S.’s hopes for the 2003 invasion of Iraq were quickly proven wrong. The Bush administration believed that its forces would be welcomed as liberators, could quickly set up a pro-American government in Baghdad, perhaps build permanent bases in the country, carry out radical free market reforms to the economy and leave as soon as possible. The insurgency and the uprising by Moqtada al-Sadr overturned all of those dreams. The White House maintained many of these ideas for months however. That’s why it called the insurgency a bunch of dead enders that couldn’t achieve anything and said that most of the violence was driven by foreigners and not Iraqis. Those assumptions were proven wrong as well.


The Bush administration however never gave up its positives messages about Iraq. Rogers points out all the turning points the Americans announced which were supposed to end opposition to the U.S. occupation. There was the deaths of Saddam’s sons Qusay and Uday, the capture of Saddam himself, the 1st Battle of Fallujah, the 2005 elections for a new Iraqi parliament and more. After each event the U.S. assured the American public that things were getting better. In fact things got worse.


A third issue which isn’t mentioned enough on coverage of Iraq was that American policy was almost purely based upon using the military to subdue the insurgents and militias. The U.S. relied upon overwhelming force and violence which killed thousands of Iraqi civilians in the process. Everything else, from rebuilding the country to carrying out economic reforms were secondary and even less effective. The White House claimed it was creating a new Iraq but that proved to be a false promise.


Last, Rogers talks about how Americans were given a sanitized view of the Iraq war. U.S. media coverage focused upon what the Bush administration said, the troops and the constant pronouncements of impending victory. The Middle East on the other hand was watching Al Jazeera which emphasized the Americans as an occupying force and the Iraqi casualties. It was two completely different views and increased opposition to the U.S. presence in the region. The American public was completely unaware of how the war was portrayed in the rest of the world which is not uncommon.


The problem with Iraq and the war on terror is that a reader doesn’t have to read it to learn most of the points Rogers’ makes. There are others that are much better and cover just Iraq and not all the other countries that are included in the reports. On the other hand, the reliance upon military force and its negative consequences as well as the limited coverage of the war in American media aren’t talked about enough.


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