Total Insecurity: The Myth of American Omnipotence

Carol Brightman, Author Verso $25 (268p) ISBN 978-1-84467-010-9
Brightman, who won the NBCC Award for 1992's Writing Dangerously: Mary McCarthy and Her World and edited the Viet-Report in the 1960s, here offers a critique of the war in Iraq, revisiting her own political coming-of-age in the process. Her thesis--that ""there really is a psychology of insecurity that underlies American geopolitical strategy in the Middle East; and its dependence on military power rather than on economic leverage or diplomacy reflects it""--is one that she defends with a tempered mix of hope, despair, skepticism and disdain. Noting that she has not been to Iraq, Brightman focuses on lesser-known microevents of the run-up to the war, including the switch Iraq made in 2000 from the American dollar to the euro as the medium of oil exchange under what were then UN sanctions. She pays particular attention to the ways in which events have been spun by the government, media, corporations and other players throughout, showing how difficult it has been to get the facts from the available materials. Drawing comparisons to the Vietnam conflict (an approach that she concedes has its limits), Brightman concludes that the U.S. effort in Iraq is doomed to failure and U.S. enemies will make great gains. Her grand synthesis of historical theory and facts-on-the-ground can feel murky at times and spotty at others, but as a progressive citizen's quick take on recent history, it makes for rewarding reading.
Reviewed on: 09/20/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
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