"War Plan Iraq -Ten reasons against war on Iraq"

Written by Milan Rai Verso, 2002

Reviewed by Katia Hancke, Socialist View No. 10, Spring 2003

"Give peace a chance and buy this book. It explains why Bush's proposed war against Iraq has little to do with Saddam's tyranny and everything to do with Washington's infinite greed for oil and power" Mike Davis.

That is what the cover announces about the content of the book. Does it live up to the expectation? This book is not a worked out analysis of the background to Bush's drive for war, rather it is a handbook for opponents to war full of useful facts and information.

The main part of the book, "Phase II - Iraq" is by far the best and most convincing section. Before very efficiently exposing the ten most used pretexts for war, Rai goes over US and British policies towards Iraq since 1991. He starts with the US administration's attitude to the UN weapons inspection agencies and reports accurately how it did its best to destroy them. They were infiltrated by US spies and used to gain intelligence on Iraq's leadership and facilitate a high-level coup attempt. UNSCOM was manipulated to create an atmosphere of confrontation and then instructed to withdraw in December 1998, days before heavy bombardments of Baghdad started. The US administration's attitude to UNMOVIC, the second UN weapons inspection agency, has not been any different.

Next Rai deals with the detail of exactly how Bush Senior and Co. not only stood by, but actively supported Saddam Hussein in crushing the uprisings inside Iraq immediately after the Gulf War. He correctly concludes from that experience that the US does not want regime change in Iraq, even opposes it with all means possible. What the US wants is "leadership change", i.e. a more reliable local stooge than Saddam, and he documents it well.

"Ten reasons against war on Iraq", the core chapter of the book, deals in a matter-of-fact and sharp way with the flimsy pretext for this war and the potential consequences of it. Some of the points very sharply expose US (and British) foreign policy: the humanitarian disaster this war is certain to trigger; the destabilisation it will cause in Iraq and in the entire region; the fact this war is not about regime change but about merely "cloning Saddam"; the lack of any proof of a build up of Weapons of Mass Destruction; why there is no link with Al Qaeda; the massive worldwide opposition to this war.

In addition, the less relevant point, much discussed in the media, about the illegality of this war is discussed along with the more important issues of the military complications and the potentially disastrous consequences for the world economy. The last chapter in the book deals with the media bias in reporting on the war preparations and the anti-war movement.

On top of that, there is a chapter written by Noam Chomsky, not really relevant to what the book has set out to do, but obviously meant as a sales pusher, more facts and figures and quite emotional appeals from "11 September relatives" opposing war on Iraq. So, does the book do what Mike Davis promised us on the cover? Not really, as Rai doesn't really set out to discuss the real reasons for a war on Iraq - control over the vast oil reserves and US prestige and power in the region and across the world. He also doesn't endeavour to look at the underlying reasons for war - the unrelenting drive for profit at any cost which drives the capitalist system.

But what this book does do is very effectively rebut the media propaganda regarding this war. It will convince anyone in their right mind that this war is wrong and will have grave consequences. All in all a useful instrument to strengthen and transform anti-war sentiments into active opposition to an unjust war.

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