Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Babylon a la Polk


This is a short (220pp), pithy, beautifully written account of Iraq and the Iraqis from earliest times to today, written by an American whose Middle East academic credentials are impressive and who was also actively involved with US Middle East policy under the Kennedy administration. He dismisses the current disastrous US/UK military action in a few short sentences - it was always about the oil. His point, and its hard to disagree, is Santayana's dictum: those who don't understand history are condemned to repeat it...

Strange to realise for the first time, reading this on Anzac Day, that the spectacularly unsuccessful attempt by Australian troops and others to occupy Gallipolli was a direct consequence of Britain's decision to invade Iraq in November 1914 and a few days later to declare war on the Ottoman empire. On that occasion, they made no bones about the reason: to protect their oil sources. Forty odd years of uneasy British occupation of Iraq followed, until the revolution of 1958 which installed Saddam's predecessors.

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