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Lessons From Iraq

Avoiding the Next War
  • and Miriam Pemberton, Research Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies
Published:   May 2008
ISBN: 1594514992 | 160 pages
This timely, immensely thoughtful, and justifiably angry collection gets the process of assessing the wreckage caused by the Iraq War off to an excellent start.

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If what is shaping up to be the worst foreign policy disaster in U.S. history has an upside, it is that the current war in Iraq should definitively, permanently settle a handful of critical questions about American conduct in the world. This book provides a list of those questions and even ventures some answers in the form of key lessons from Iraq.

The idea of assembling lessons as tools for avoiding the next war is less of a stretch than it seems, given the group of writers represented here. They include a Nobel Prize-winning economist; the former chief UN weapons inspector; and an Iraqi American whose weekly conversations with his relatives have given him a grim education on what living through a war to spread democracy is like on the ground. Also here is a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner who traces the recurring American bad habit of starting wars as tryouts for big ideas.

All societies need a ready reference handbook that draws some lines around its conduct of war. The Bush administration has produced a radical overhaul of the U.S. manual. Given the Iraq experience, it is urgent that we reject this version and think again. This book is a manageably sized, accessibly written, affordable compilation of key points that most urgently need to be rethought.


  • Fred Barbash
  • Phyllis Bennis
  • Linda Bilmes
  • Hans Blix
  • Neta C. Crawford
  • Ivan Eland
  • Frances FitzGerald
  • William D. Hartung
  • Aziz Huq
  • Chalmers Johnson
  • Michael Klare
  • Jeffrey Laurenti
  • Jules Lobel
  • John Prados
  • Anas Shallal
  • Normal Solomon
  • Joseph Stiglitz
  • Janine Wedel
  • C.K. Williams

Praise for Lessons From Iraq

"Assessing the wreckage caused by the Iraq War is an urgent national priority. This timely, immensely thoughtful, and justifiably angry collection gets that process off to an excellent start.”
-- Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War

“If a main reason our government went to war in Iraq was to reassert American authority after 9/11 exposed our vulnerability, the actual consequence -- as these incisive and important essays make clear -- has been just the opposite. Not only have we paid dearly in blood, treasure and in damage to American liberties. In addition, the decline of our credibility and prestige has led to a sharp reduction in American power. We tried to show that we are strong and made ourselves seem weak.”
-- Aryeh Neier, President, Open Society Institute