George Bush Sr. described Saddam Hussein as the “new Hitler,” while his son, George W., during a recent state of the union address, accused Iraq of being part of an “axis of evil.” Since 1990 few places have inspired such high dudgeon in U.S. political circles as Iraq, a country easily demonized, simplified or even obscured by the formidable Saddam Hussein. In this short, pithy primer, the celebrated journalist and historian Dilip Hiro looks beyond the spin of both the Bush administration and Saddam’s Ba-athist regime to explore Iraq in all its complexity. Combining case histories and searching political analysis, Hiro explores everyday life in Iraq now, describing the lives of the Iraqi “street” and the effect sanctions have had on their lives. From there he paints a broader picture of Iraq that is both nuanced and vivid, emphasizing the dual importance of the Gulf War of 1991, and the Iran-Iraq war of 1980–88, and the role of the U.S., first friend and then foe, to the Ba-athist regime. He examines the brutal role of Saddam and the Ba-aath Party, his personality cult and its lethal security apparatus, as well as attempts of the internal and external Saddam opposition to overthrow Saddam. Hiro also weighs the achievements and failures of the sanctions regime, especially how the U.S. has used U.N. sanctions as a way to advance its own unilateral policy toward Iraq. Hiro concludes by warning of the potentially catastrophic outcome to Bush’s plans to attack Iraq and violently overthrow Saddam—to regional stability, the world economy, and the lives of many innocent Iraqis. Included are photographs that add to this timely publication. “Dilip Hiro ... is a model political analyst. His approach is incorrigibly non-partisan as it is methodical.”—Justin Wintle, The
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