The End of Iraq describes America's failed strategy toward that country & what must be done now. The USA invaded Iraq with grand ambitions to bring democracy & thereby transform the Middle East. Instead, Iraq has disintegrated into three constituent components: a pro-western Kurdistan in the north, an Iran-dominated Shiite entity in the south & a chaotic Sunni Arab region in the center.
The country is plagued by insurgency & is in the opening phases of a potentially catastrophic civil war. George W. Bush broke up Iraq when he ordered its invasion in '03. The USA not only removed Saddam Hussein, it also smashed & later dissolved the institutions by which Iraq's Sunni Arab minority ruled: its army, its security services & the Baath Party. With these institutions gone & irreplaceable, the basis of an Iraqi state has disappeared.
This book describes the administration's strategic miscalculations behind the war as well as the blunders of the occupation. There was the failure to understand the intensity of ethnic & religious divisions. This was followed by incoherent & inconsistent strategies for governing, the failure to spend money for reconstruction, the misguided effort to create a national army & police, then the turning over of the country's management to Republican political loyalists rather than qualified professionals.
As a matter of morality the Iraqi Kurds are no less entitled to independence than are Lithuanians, Croatians or Palestinians. If the country's majority Shiites want to run their own affairs, or even have their own state, on what democratic principle should they be denied? If the price of a unified Iraq is another dictatorship it's too high a price to pay.
The USA must focus now, not on preserving or forging a unified Iraq, but on avoiding a spreading civil war. It must accept the reality of Iraq's breakup & work with Iraq's Shiites, Kurds & Sunni Arabs to strengthen the already semi-independent regions. If they're properly constituted, these regions can provide security, tho not all will be democratic. There's no easy exit from Iraq.
We have to relinquish present strategy--trying to build national institutions when there is in fact no nation. That effort is doomed. It will only leave the USA with an open-ended commitment in circumstances of uncontrollable turmoil. Galbraith has been in Iraq many times over the last 21 years during historic turning points for the country: the Iran-Iraq War, the Kurdish genocide, the '91 uprising, the immediate aftermath of the '03 war & the writing of Iraq's constitutions.
In The End of Iraq, he offers 1sthand observations of the men who are now Iraq's leaders. He draws on his nearly two decades of involvement in Iraq policy working for the US government to appraise what has occurred & what will happen. This book is a definitive account of the war & its ramifications.