Lessons from Iraq: Avoiding the Next War

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Edited By: Miriam Pemberton & William D. Hartung

Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Paradigm Publishers (May 30, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594514992
ISBN-13: 978-1594514999


Fred Barbash, Phyllis Bennis, Linda Bilmes, Hans Blix, Neta C. Crawford, Ivan Eland, Frances FitzGerald, Aziz Huq, Chalmers Johnson, Michael Klare, Jeffrey Laurenti, Jules Lobel, John Prados, Anas Shallal, Normal Solomon, Joseph Stiglitz, Janine Wedel, C.K. Williams.


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.

Including contributions by Hans Blix, Frances Fitzgerald, Chalmers Johnson, Michael Klare, Anas Shallal, Joseph Stiglitz, C.K. Williams, and others!

•Hard-hitting lessons from the Iraq War

•Offered by a star quality author list

•Reflecting expertise ranging from the UN arms inspection commission (Hans Blix) to the insights of a Nobel Prize–winning economist (Joseph Stiglitz)

•Including unusual pieces like a firsthand account of an earlier Iraq war (Anas Shallal) and a prose poem by a Pulitzer Prize–winning poet (C.K. Williams)


“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

About the Author

Miriam Pemberton, Ph.D., is Research Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and Peace and Security Editor of its Foreign Policy in Focus project. She leads the team that produces the annual “Unified Security Budget for the United States.”

William D. Hartung is Director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation. He is the author of And Weapons for All (HarperCollins 1994) and How Much Did You Make on the War, Daddy? A Quick and Dirty Guide to War Profiteering in the Bush Administration (Nation Books 2005).