A solid but dry academic analysis of how and why the US wrongheadedly tilted toward Iraq and leader Saddam Hussein until the Gulf War. In 1982, notes Jentleson (Political Science/Univ. of California, Davis), the Reagan administration removed Iraq from a list of state sponsors of terrorism. The main reason: leverage against Iran, Iraq's opponent in war. Iraq gained trade credits, military aid, and, in 1984, restoration of diplomatic relations. But, as Jentleson persuasively argues, the ``enemy of my enemy'' is not necessarily a friend. Hussein did not moderate his behavior, but flagrantly violated human rights, pursued construction of an atom bomb, and continued to support terrorism. The author suggests that trade considerations and a wishful State Department outweighed the outrage of Congress. In 1989, President Bush signed a strategic directive pointing toward normalization of relations between the two countries; once again, political and trade considerations outweighed the well-founded doubts of those concerned with human rights and nonproliferation. Jentleson also criticizes the inept accommodation US officials offered as Hussein prepared for his invasion of Kuwait. The author follows his case study with a prescription for appropriate strategy in such ``enemy-enemy- friend'' cases: Policy makers should ensure reciprocity (a rough equivalence in mutual benefits) and proportionality (the support offered should not allow the ``friend'' to be too powerful); they should also maintain deterrent credibility (a willingness to leave the alliance). He also criticizes Bush administration ``groupthink'' and federal agencies' failure to cooperate. Jentleson relies mainly on secondary sources where a journalist might have pinned down some of the faulty policy makers in interviews. He also could have offered more context on such issues as the Republican posture toward human rights policy and the importance of Israeli-Arab peace talks. Finally, Jentleson, who has served as an advisor to President Clinton's State Department, avoids commenting on the current US posture toward Iraq. For students, scholars, and policy types.
Read full book review >