Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco

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Things didn't go wrong in postwar Iraq because the United States lacked a plan. Things went wrong because the United States was blinded by ideology and ignored planning that was already underway. Losing Iraq tells the story of the tragedy of Iraq, from the first discreet meetings to plan the political transition through the debacle the United States finally created. Losing Iraq is a stunning and revealing look at our recent past--with a candid take on how we can prevent this sort of tragedy from happening again.
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About the author

David L. Phillips is Director of the Nobel Laureates Initiative at the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. He is also a Visiting Scholar at Harvard's Center for Middle East Studies, and Program Director of American University's Center for Global Peace. He lives in New York City.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Basic Books
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Published on
Apr 28, 2009
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780786736201
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Middle East / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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"David Enders has a stunning independent streak and the courage to trust his own perceptions as he reports from outside the bubble Americans have created for themselves in Iraq."
---Joe Sacco, author of Safe Area Gorazde

"Baghdad Bulletin takes us where mainstream news accounts do not go. Disrupting the easy cliché s that dominate U.S. journalism, Enders blows away the media fog of war. The result is a book that challenges Americans to see through double speak and reconsider the warfare being conducted in their names."
---Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death

"Journalism at its finest and on a shoestring to boot. David Enders shows that courage and honesty can outshine big-budget mainstream media. Wry but self-critical, Baghdad Bulletin tells a story that a few of us experienced but every journalist, nay every citizen, should read."
---Pratap Chatterjee, Managing Editor and Project Director, CorpWatch

"Young and tenacious, Dave Enders went, saw, and wrote it down. Here it is-a well-informed and detailed tale of Iraq's decline under American rule. Baghdad Bulletin offers tragic politics, wacky people, and keen insights about what really matters on the ground in Iraq."
---Christian Parenti

"I wrote my first piece for Baghdad Bulletin after visiting the mass graves at Al-Hilla in 2003. The Baghdad Bulletin was essential reading in the first few months after the end of the war. I handed that particular copy to Prime Minister Tony Blair. I am only sorry that I cannot read it anymore. David Enders and his team were brave, enterprising, and idealistic."
---Rt. Hon. Ann Clwyd, member of the British Parliament


Baghdad Bulletin is a street-level account of the war and turbulent postwar period as seen through the eyes of the young independent journalist David Enders. The book recounts Enders's story of his decision to go to Iraq, where he opened the only English-language newspaper completely written, printed, and distributed there during the war.

Young, courageous, and anti-authoritarian, Enders is the first reporter to cover the war as experienced by ordinary Iraqis. Deprived of the press credentials that gave his embedded colleagues access to press conferences and officially sanitized information, Enders tells the story of a different war, outside the Green Zone. It is a story in which the struggle of everyday life is interspersed with moments of sheer terror and bizarre absurdity: wired American troops train their guns on terrified civilians; Iraqi musicians prepare a recital for Coalition officials who never show; traveling clowns wreak havoc in a Baghdad police station.

Orphans and intellectuals, activists and insurgents: Baghdad Bulletin depicts the unseen complexity of Iraqi society and gives us a powerful glimpse of a new kind of warfare, one that coexists with-and sometimes tragically veers into-the everyday rhythms of life.
Nir Rosen has been hailed by The New York Review of Books as the reporter who managed to get inside Fallujah "at a time when it was a death trap for Western reporters," and as one of the few Western reporters able to report the truth from Iraq. Still in his twenties, a freelancer who has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and Harper's Magazine, Rosen speaks Iraqi-accented Arabic and has managed to report from some of the country's most dangerous locales. Even The Weekly Standard notes that "he probably has more sources in the insurgency than any other American reporter."

Rosen knows better than anyone how much the Americans are hated, and how deeply the Sunni Iraqis hate the Shias and vice versa. He has listened to the insurgents, and he knows that they will never rest until the Americans are gone. Too many Sunnis and Shias are willing to use violence for Iraq to ever have peace. The overthrow of Saddam has proved to be nothing less than a triumph for the martyrs who use violence at every turn.

Ever since the fall of Saddam's regime Rosen has been in and out of Iraq, from north to south, listening to Friday sermons in mosques, breaking bread with dangerous men, interviewing political henchmen, joining Shia pilgrims, and listening to ordinary Iraqis who face American soldiers on raids in the Sunni triangle. He has had to plead for his life at times, and he has received more than one death threat. He has been pres-ent when bombs were detonated, and he has sat in meetings of insurgent leaders as they made policy decisions about territory they controlled. He has heard the double messages of Iraqi leaders -- the careful English messages for Western ears and the unvarnished hostility in Arabic -- and he has interviewed politicians and imams and seen how the insurgents and gang leaders create militias, private courts, prisons, security services, and more.

In the Belly of the Green Bird is a searing report, unlike any other book about the American experience in Iraq. Almost everything covered in the Western media has been at least one or two steps removed from the minds and acts of the people who will determine the future of Iraq. Some of them are peaceful, some are violent. Some of them hate one another with the intensity of ancient enemies. The depth of discord between Sunnis and Shias is difficult to fathom without listening to them. Their anti-Americanism is much more recent, but not much less intense. The divisions within this cobbled-together country, much like those within Yugoslavia after Tito, are simply too intense to contain.
America's leading expert on democracy delivers the first insider's account of the U.S. occupation of Iraq-a sobering and critical assessment of America's effort to implant democracy

In the fall of 2003, Stanford professor Larry Diamond received a call from Condoleezza Rice, asking if he would spend several months in Baghdad as an adviser to the the American occupation authorities. Diamond had not been a supporter of the war in Iraq, but he felt that the task of building a viable democracy was a worthy goal now that Saddam Hussein's regime had been overthrown. He also thought he could do some good by putting his academic expertise to work in the real world. So in January 2004 he went to Iraq, and the next three months proved to be more of an education than he bargained for.

Diamond found himself part of one of the most audacious undertakings of our time. In Squandered Victory he shows how the American effort to establish democracy in Iraq was hampered not only by insurgents and terrorists but also by a long chain of miscalculations, missed opportunities, and acts of ideological blindness that helped assure that the transition to independence would be neither peaceful nor entirely democratic. He brings us inside the Green Zone, into a world where ideals were often trumped by power politics and where U.S. officials routinely issued edicts that later had to be squared (at great cost) with Iraqi realities. His provocative and vivid account makes clear that Iraq-and by extension, the United States-will spend many years climbing its way out of the hole that was dug during the fourteen months of the American occupation.

From Bullets to Ballots considers non-state Muslim organizations at different stages of abandoning violence and pursuing their goals through a political process. Some have successfully made the transition. Others are in mid-stream. Some have tried but backtracked, splintered, or simply abandoned such efforts, reverting to pathological violence. Many groups could be case studies, but Phillips has selected the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Kurdistan Workers Party, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, and the Free Aceh Movement, because they cover the spectrum. This book deals with political strategies for moderating violent Muslim movements by engaging them in the political process. In strong criticism of the Bush administration, Phillips notes that the push for democracy may have increased conflict by giving violent groups "the ballot" which they use to gain power. Focusing on non-state Muslim organizations, From Bullets to Ballots considers the relationship between ideology and policy. Phillips discusses their origin, ideology, structure, and leadership and examines financing, activities, and communications. He assesses the groups' commitment to elections and its acceptance of the responsibility that comes with governance. From Bullets to Ballots draws on twenty years of Phillips' experience working democratization and conflict prevention in the Middle East, the Balkans, the Caucasus, and South Asia. His recommendations are primarily directed to the United States because he believes the United States should be a leader in promoting democracy around the world. At the same time, he is convinced that the United States must tread softly, or run the risk of fomenting further violence, undermining future democratic development, and setting back its own national interests. This is a provocative, informed, and balanced analysis of the theories behind current policies.
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