Mr Peter Galbrith is certainly a writer to read on Iraq. If you read this one, the one feeling that stays with you is that Kurds deserve to be independent and thats the only possible logic presented. Being so biased in favour of Kurds Mr Peter lost the accumen of a historian and a balancer and propogated only one view thus destroying the value of, in my opinion, an otherwise excellent commentary on Iraqs problem.
Eventually stopping at my station, he was the first to speak, "I see you're reading about Iraq." He then went on to recite the FOX News laundry list of reasons why the invasion was a good idea: Saddam was an ally of Osama Bin Ladin and and the Taliban, the terrorists would fight us over here if we weren't there, we deposed a dictator and imposed a democracy, etc. "That must be a good book then, what does it say?" As I went over Galbraith's outline of the situation my companion's eyes lit up; before I could call it he chimed in that the central region in Iraq is Sunni. In his voice there was also a tone of regret, as if he had been one of those sent to fight for no good reason, and had perhaps returned damaged in ways that don't easily heal.
If you have read anything about T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), or even seen the movie, think "Galbraith of Iraq," moving behind the scenes, sometimes officially, often privately, coaching Iraqis and especially Kurds on how to deal with American illogic. Furthermore, he points out, the new Iraqi constitution, crammed down their throats by Paul Bremer and Condoleeza Rice, actually pretty much locks in an independent Kurdistan, anyway, even as the Bush administration continues to bluster futilely about a democratic nation called Iraq. Looters were at work in every building I visited, but not once did I have any sense of danger ...I rescued several treaties ...Many of the sites had obvious intelligence value ...yet neither the Pentagon nor the CIA seems to have made any effort to mine these sites for intelligence ...As part of its case for war, the Bush administration alleged that Iraq was covertly acquiring materials for weapons of mass destruction, like yellowcake from Niger, while Vice President Cheney insisted Saddam's embassies were in contact with al-Qaeda. But looters were the only people I saw prying open foreign ministry safes." "On my return to Washington in May, I spent an hour at the Pentagon briefing Paul Wolfowitz on what I had seen in Iraq. After that meeting, neither Wolfowitz nor his staff returned my phone calls and I had no further contact with the Pentagon." "For a full year before the war, the State Department had spent millions of dollars working with Iraqi exiles and experts to prepare a 15-volume blueprint for how Iraq might be governed after the war. He would learn of it in the press sometime after arriving in Baghdad." "Bremer's grand entry represented a 180-degree turn in strategy from Garner's." "Bremer was Kissinger's protege' "Two months before he ordered troops into Iraq, Bush: didn't know that Islam was divided between Shiites and Sunnis." Six young people who had not applied for jobs in post-war Iraq, and who had no relevant job experience, were hired without interview and without security clearance and ended up being responsible for spending Iraq's budget, writes Galbraith. The Pentagon hired eleven people off the Heritage Foundation Web site, including those six who handled Iraq's budget." "Without there being an Iraqi nation, it was impossible to create a genuine national army." In recommending that Iraq be allowed to dissolve into a Shiastan (for the Shiites), a Sunni Arab zone, and a Kurdistan, Galbraith recognizes that critics will say such a solution will yield its own problems. The Unites States cannot put the country back together again and it cannot stop the civil war." To the nay-sayers who say Turkey would never stand by and let an independent Kurdistan arise, Galbraith has reasoned reply: "Turkish attitudes toward Iraqi Kurdistan have evolved significantly since 2003 ...
Galbraith's central argument is that the basic US error in IQ (he claims in this book to be agnostic about whether the invasion was the right move) was thinking of Iraq and the Iraqi people as a single entity and trying to reforge a nation rather than accept that IQ has never been a unified state or people and work toward ameliorating the process of partition/federalization. Galbraith acknowledges that his federalized, de facto partition solution is not perfect and leaves many problems unresolved (what to do about war-torn Baghdad, for instance?), but in general he is right. This book is very useful for intra-Kurdish politics, the constitution-making process, the roots of the insurgency, and thinking more broadly about the Iraqi state and history.
The second theme of the book is that Iraq, by the beginning of 2006, when this book was published, was already a defacto conglomeration of three semi-independent states: Kurdistan, the Shiite south, which is dominated by Iranian influence, and the Sunni middle of Iraq, which was in the throes of a civil war and of the three "states" was the least organized and independent. The present Iraqi constitution, according to the author, acknowledges the federal nature of the country and the defacto independence of Kurdistan as well as the growing independence of the Shiite south.