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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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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