WHAT WE OWE IRAQ: War and the Ethics of Nation Building

Noah Feldman, Author . Princeton Univ. $24.95 (200p) ISBN 978-0-691-12179-6

Though there are books on the "how-to" of nation-building, there are none on the ethical theories behind it, says Feldman, author of After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy and former senior constitutional adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Feldman, who teaches law at NYU, does not address the legality or wisdom of the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime, nor the question of when international intervention is justified. He includes some useful anecdotes from his Iraqi tenure, though he doesn't aim to produce a comprehensive account of political negotiations there. But his knowledge of the facts on the ground does lead him to conclude that the U.S. needs to stay in Iraq for democracy to take; his book, based on lectures delivered at Princeton in April 2004, constructs an ethics for doing so. Considering trusteeship, he argues that the American presence in Iraq should facilitate public speech, assembly and participation in administration. He also warns Americans to abandon the notion that they know how to produce a functioning democracy, something that has already come to pass. Written with tempered passion and a grounded sense of the possibilities, Feldman's book nicely bridges theory and practice, even as some events outpace it. Agent, Heather Schroder of ICM. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 08/09/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-691-12612-8
Open Ebook - 176 pages - 978-1-4008-2622-3
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