Chronology of United States-Iraqi Relations, 1920-2006.

Author:DeAtkine, Norvell B.
Position:Book review
 
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This book is highly recommended to those involved with Iraq professionally or personally. It is an indispensable work from the standpoint of a quick reference to recall events or trends in Iraq. In the preface Dr. Mattox tells readers he "offers an overview of political, economic and diplomatic relations between the United States and Iraq from the time the latter state came into being until decades afterward, when a second major crisis dominated interactions between the two nations." He does this in an admirable fashion, without polemics that have plagued so much of what has been written about Iraq recently; and he is careful to tell the reader where he injects his opinion or comment. In those comments he is also careful to relate the facts as known, with an opposing view when required.

Writing a good chronology without burying the reader in trivia or obscuring the main events or trends with insignificant detail is very difficult. The author's judgment on what is significant and what is not, while still producing a usable book, is a task for an expert with long experience who can draw upon his own background as well as that of others. Sometimes it is simply the intuitive sense of a long-time Foreign Service hand who can separate the chaff from the wheat. Dr. Mattox, a career Foreign Service Officer before he became a university professor, has done this with a tightly written narrative that is cogent and coherent for anyone who follows events in Iraq with more than passing interest. With what he considers solid background knowledge of Iraq, the reviewer could not find any place in this book where one could seriously quibble in terms of events covered or emphasis given them. The author not only lays out the thread of United States-Iraqi relations with continuity, but also gives the reader enough information to put it into context.

A non-ideologically based chronology on our relations with Iraq is vital at this point because of the pervasive politicization the conflict has incurred on the domestic scene. The lead-in to the second Iraqi War chronicled by the author is particularly instructive in a number of ways. First it conveys the obstinacy and suspicious nature of the Saddam regime in its dealings with the UNSCOM team after the first Iraqi War. It was a tactic that fooled most intelligence agencies of the Western world and even the inner circle of the Saddamists. In a recent interview, Saddam Hussein's FBI interrogator, George Piro, stated...

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