Hans Blix recounts the events leading up to the declaration of war on Iraq in March 2003, looking back to Saddam Hussein's long wrangle with the international community since the first Gulf War and forward to the implications for international security in the aftermath of the war just ended. In clear-eyed descriptions of his meetings with Blair, Bush, Chirac, Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell and Kofi Annan, he conveys the frustrations, the tensions, the pressure and the drama of the months leading up to the US/UK-led attack on Iraq. He also asks and answers key questions including: Could the war have been prevented? Was it inevitable? Does Iraq have weapons of mass destruction? Why couldn't the US and the UK secure the backing of the member states of the UN Security Council? And: What can be learnt from the Iraq war for the prevention of the spread and use of WMDs in the future?
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Disarming Iraq is an insider's account of the diplomatic and inspection efforts leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Though a bit dry, the book is logically presented and gives an excellent background on the inspections process and the politics surrounding it. Hans Blix, who came out of retirement in 2000 to lead the inspections effort, was often bashed by American politicians and journalists, but he does not use this forum to strike back. Instead, he allows the evidence to do the talking, only occasionally offering his own opinion. Blix stresses that he never trusted Hussein and that inspectors were often misled and stonewalled, but he also points out that they never found any evidence of weapons of mass destruction either. Though Blix welcomes the end of Hussein's brutal dictatorship, his removal was "neither the avowed aim nor the justification given" for the war—-WMDs were the issue. Therefore, he believes the invasion was unnecessary and possibly counterproductive in the long run and is disappointed that they were not given enough time to complete their task. "Containment had worked," he writes. "It has also become clear that national intelligence organizations and government hawks, but not the inspectors, had been wrong in their assessments."Blix blames "monumental" intelligence failures on the part of the U.S. and Great Britain for most of these errors. In particular, he questions America's reliance on Iraqi defectors over their own intelligence agencies. He further wonders why the U.S. dismissed nearly all of the inspection agencies' findings over the past decade, in essence depriving themselves of a valuable source of information. He concludes that inspections are a worthwhile and effective method of containing potentially dangerous regimes and he believes that too high a price was paid for the war: "in the compromised legitimacy of the action, in the damaged credibility of the governments pursuing it, and in the diminished authority of the United Nations." --Shawn Carkonen From the Inside Flap :
The war against Iraq divided opinion throughout the world and generated a maelstrom of spin and counterspin. The man at the eye of the storm, and arguably the only key player to emerge from it with his integrity intact, was Hans Blix, head of the UN weapons inspection team.
This is Dr. Blix?s account of what really happened during the months leading up to the declaration of war in March 2003. In riveting descriptions of his meetings with Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Kofi Annan, he conveys the frustrations, the tensions, the pressure and the drama as the clock ticked toward the fateful hour. In the process, he asks the vital questions about the war: Was it inevitable? Why couldn?t the U.S. and UK get the backing of the other member states of the UN Security Council? Did Iraq have weapons of mass destruction? What does the situation in Iraq teach us about the propriety and efficacy of policies of preemptive attack and unilateral action?
Free of the agendas of politicians and ideologues, Blix is the plainspoken, measured voice of reason in the cacophony of debate about Iraq. His assessment of what happened is invaluable in trying to understand both what brought us to the present state of affairs and what we can learn as we try to move toward peace and security in the world after Iraq.
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