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Sanctioning Saddam: The Politics of Intervention in Iraq

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Throughout the 1990s Iraq has been the target not only of military attack but of the most draconian and protracted economic embargo ever imposed by the international community. In the immediate aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War the embargo was accompanied by an effort to provide aid to the Iraqi people and to protect them against human rights abuses, an initiative that seemed Throughout the 1990s Iraq has been the target not only of military attack but of the most draconian and protracted economic embargo ever imposed by the international community. In the immediate aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War the embargo was accompanied by an effort to provide aid to the Iraqi people and to protect them against human rights abuses, an initiative that seemed to break new ground in providing protection for civilians in a situation of conflict. Yet the outcome of the international community’s efforts has fallen short of the promise. Why has there been such a large gap between the rhetoric and reality? How exactly have the combination of economic sanctions, international humanitarian aid and limited protection of civilians affected Iraq? And what lessons can be drawn from the experience? This is the most carefully documented, comprehensive account to be published on the consequences of intervention in Iraq during the 1990s. It examines not only the record of intervention, but also the complicated political context which has shaped international policy and the Iraqi response to it.


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Throughout the 1990s Iraq has been the target not only of military attack but of the most draconian and protracted economic embargo ever imposed by the international community. In the immediate aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War the embargo was accompanied by an effort to provide aid to the Iraqi people and to protect them against human rights abuses, an initiative that seemed Throughout the 1990s Iraq has been the target not only of military attack but of the most draconian and protracted economic embargo ever imposed by the international community. In the immediate aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War the embargo was accompanied by an effort to provide aid to the Iraqi people and to protect them against human rights abuses, an initiative that seemed to break new ground in providing protection for civilians in a situation of conflict. Yet the outcome of the international community’s efforts has fallen short of the promise. Why has there been such a large gap between the rhetoric and reality? How exactly have the combination of economic sanctions, international humanitarian aid and limited protection of civilians affected Iraq? And what lessons can be drawn from the experience? This is the most carefully documented, comprehensive account to be published on the consequences of intervention in Iraq during the 1990s. It examines not only the record of intervention, but also the complicated political context which has shaped international policy and the Iraqi response to it.

19 review for Sanctioning Saddam: The Politics of Intervention in Iraq

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Stieb

    This author has put together an incredibly in-depth and information rich book, but the final product is marred by repetitiveness, stale writing, heavy technicality. For a book about such a dramatic and important topic, there is virtually no human element to this account. It reads much more like an NGO report than a monograph on sanctions. A lot of the book really isn't about sanctions but about the politics of delivering humanitarian aid to Iraq. The book also would have been stronger if the aut This author has put together an incredibly in-depth and information rich book, but the final product is marred by repetitiveness, stale writing, heavy technicality. For a book about such a dramatic and important topic, there is virtually no human element to this account. It reads much more like an NGO report than a monograph on sanctions. A lot of the book really isn't about sanctions but about the politics of delivering humanitarian aid to Iraq. The book also would have been stronger if the author had proceeded chronologically and given more of a sense of how the policy evolved. Still, Graham-Brown does a good job explaining the origins of sanctions, their effects on Iraqi society, and their steady breakdown over the course of the decade. She accurately notes that American goals for the sanctions diverged strongly from the coalition's goals. She also has the best description I've yet seen on how each major player in the sanctions formed their policies. The US and the UK saw sanctions mainly as a means of containment with the hope of bringing the regime down. At the minimum, they wanted full compliance with UN resolutions passed just after Desert Storm. The sections on Iraqi society's changes under the sanctions regime are also interesting. Oddly enough, while the sanctions reduced the regime's ability to threaten its neighbors, they may have made SH's power at home more secure by making him the main distributor of goods in the country, which allowed him to starve out recalcitrant areas and build patronage networks elsewhere. The sanctions also bolstered SH at home by wrecking the Iraqi middle class, which could have formed a basis of opposition to Saddam. In reading this book you see the extent of damage, dislocation, and demoralization the Iraqi people had endured long before the US invasion. We should have had more awareness that we were entering a broken, fearful, and skeptical society and then starting up a new round of massive changes. So while the content of this book is vital for any student of Iraq, it is an absolute slog to read. There are more words on each page than any book I've ever seen. There are virtually no human characters in the book, and the chapters on disputes among NGO's are very boring. I'd therefore recommend it only to people doing highly specialized research in sanctions, humanitarianism, or Iraqi history. Graham Brown is clearly a very passionate advocate for humanitarianism, but she could have reached more people with a more vivid, full-blooded account of human decisions and ideas.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Danny S

    Fascinating, in-depth exploration of the brutal war years in Iraq (between the two wars)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Froggy

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  5. 4 out of 5

    Livvy Saunders

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  7. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sabine Berzina

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ed Wilson

  11. 5 out of 5

    Simona Šjadīte

  12. 4 out of 5

    BookDB

  13. 5 out of 5

    Woody

  14. 4 out of 5

    Muhamed

  15. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Adams

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Dougherty

  17. 4 out of 5

    Krzysiek (Chris)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Max

  19. 4 out of 5

    Heresh Kurdi

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