The occupation, Phillips urges, has been characterized by sheer incompetence. Though there’s little news in that...

LOSING IRAQ

INSIDE THE POSTWAR RECONSTRUCTION FIASCO

Might does not always equal power, strength does not always yield influence, and “winning the peace requires cooperation from freedom’s beneficiaries.” So warns policy expert Phillips (Council on Foreign Relations) in this justly gloomy report.

Saddam was no friend of the Iraqi people, allows Phillips. In areas of Kurdish settlement, he introduced ethnic cleansing methods meant to “Arabize” the population and destroy political opposition; areas of Shia control were bloodily repressed. Despite ethnic divisions that lead some observers to wonder whether Iraq can really be a country at all, Phillips suggests that federalism may be the best hope for an independent nation. Complicating this are all the old scores to settle—not just Shia versus Sunni, Baathist versus Kurd, but also, back across the waters, neocon versus paleocon, nation-builder versus bomb-into-submission old Cold Warriors. In this respect, picture Paul Wolfowitz, who fancies himself an expert on Islam and is demonstrably a hawk, rumbling with Colin Powell, who characterized the weapons-of-mass-destruction ploy as “bullshit”; though Phillips reminds us that Powell eventually bowed to the will of President Bush, it is clear whose side he believes the angels and devils stand. Phillips, like so many others, wonders how it could be that the U.S. backed such a wrong horse as Ahmad Chalabi, who has stood trial for embezzlement elsewhere in the Arab world and seems now to be favored only by a small set of neocons. One answer, he suggests, is that State Department analysts who knew anything at all about Iraq, rather like the “China hands” of old, were systematically frozen out of agencies such as the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, a civilian and military clearinghouse for transitional management of Iraqi affairs. One result: good military campaign, bad postwar management, with neocons like Wolfowitz brushing aside the concerns and warnings of career soldiers who presumably know something about war.

The occupation, Phillips urges, has been characterized by sheer incompetence. Though there’s little news in that argument—and indeed, little news here—his narrative does a good job of recording a long series of missteps, naming names as it does.

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8133-4304-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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