The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End

Peter W. Galbraith, Author . Simon & Schuster $26 (260p) ISBN 978-0-7432-9423-2

Galbraith, a leading commentator on Iraq thanks to his recent articles in the New York Review of Books , presents a clear-eyed and persuasive case against the Bush administration's nation-building project there. As a former U.S. diplomat with long experience in Iraq, he offers an insider's view of the American occupation's failures—the poor preparation for post-invasion chaos, the cluelessness about Iraqi politics, the incompetence and corruption of the occupation authority—while advancing a deeper critique. With Saddam's dictatorship and the Baathist party and army that supported it gone, he contends that Iraq is irrevocably splitting into a pro-American Kurdistan in the north, a pro-Iranian Shiite south and an ungovernable Sunni center. America "cannot put the country back together again and it cannot stop the civil war," he insists. Deeply skeptical of attempts to reunify the Iraqi state, he proposes that the U.S. withdraw from Arab Iraq and "facilitate an amicable divorce" between the fractious sections. Galbraith advised the Iraqi Kurds during recent constitutional negotiations and is palpably sympathetic to their national aspirations; his argument sometimes feels like a brief for Kurdish separatism. Still, Galbraith's authoritative grasp of the issues and his cogent, forthright call for disengagement ensure that the book will move into the center of the debate over American policy in Iraq. (July 17)

Reviewed on: 05/22/2006
Release date: 07/01/2006
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