One of the few senior-level officials who dealt with Saddam Hussein’s government on a regular basis before the U.S.-led invasion relates his experiences as a former weapons inspector and WMD hunter.
Duelfer was deputy head of the United Nations weapons-inspection organization from 1993 to 2000, then head of the CIA-led Iraq Study Group (ISG), which fruitlessly searched for those much-touted weapons of mass destruction. The ISG’s final report on Iraq in 2004 was known as “the Duelfer Report.” Writing of conversations he had with high-level officials, including President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell and FBI director George Tenet, Duelfer states that he found many in the government reluctant to accept the idea that Iraq lacked existing WMDs. The assumption was that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was fooling the inspectors in some way, hiding the weapons just out of reach. This mistaken assumption would help carry the United States into today’s ongoing conflict with insurgents, one that Duelfer would experience firsthand. In 2004, a convoy of armored vehicles he was riding in was struck by a car bomb, destroying the vehicle behind his and killing two soldiers. Afterward, one of his colleagues grimly surveyed the twisted wreckage and said, “This isn’t worth it.” Duelfer ably sketches the frustrating and difficult history of U.S.-Iraqi relations and his part in them. However, his conclusions—that U.S. officials deeply misjudged Iraqi politics and society before and after the invasion—have already been expressed and written about by others. It’s the author’s on-the-ground experiences that make this book so engaging, and at times chilling. Shortly after the invasion, one Iraqi security official told him bluntly, “You know, to rule Iraq, you will have to become Saddam.” That comment, Duelfer writes, would echo in his mind for a very long time.
A knowledgeable look at Iraq from a unique perspective.