Research Proposal: Iraq War John Keegan Tackles

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Iraq War

John Keegan tackles what he admits to be the one of the most controversial wars in recent American history in the Iraq War. However, Keegan's first edition of the tome was published in 2004, meaning that the author penned most of his observations not long after the invasion began. When the author extols the victories of the coalition forces in the beginning chapters of the Iraq War readers wonder if he is referring to the same Iraq War: the one 24-hour cable news networks still report on in 2008; the same Iraq War that has sullied the reputation of the United States; the same Iraq War that has not been characterized by "ending victoriously," as Keegan claims in the opening sentences of the book (p. 1). Keegan was forced to add a postscript and a subtitle to the Iraq War in the publisher's second edition: The Iraq War: The Military Offensive, from Victory in 21 Days to the Insurgent Aftermath. The postscript, though, still cannot offer any closure to the issues at large in the ongoing conflict.

Keegan begins by introducing Iraq through its history, tracing its ancient roots as the Mesopotamian cradle of civilization through the birth of Islam, then the Ottoman Empire, and finally the British colonial occupation at the beginning of the 20th century. The historical analysis of Iraq culminates in his explication of Saddam Hussein's role in destabilizing the nation. Keegan proceeds to describe Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and the American response to that invasion with the First Gulf War in the first Bush administration. Following September 11 and the crises of 2002 and 2003, the American and British coalition launched their wars amid much international objection. Ultimately, Baghdad was captured, Saddam arrested, leaving Iraq's future dreadfully uncertain. The insurgent aftermath is a glaring reminder of the need for greater sensitivity to the historical, cultural, and religious issues that plague Iraq and prevent peace in the entire Middle East.

Crucial to Keegan's historical analysis is a brief biography of Saddam Hussein, which comprises the several chapters in the Iraq War. Saddam was a sadistic megalomaniac, notes Keegan, whose use of chemical weapons was akin to that of the Nazis. Hussein's invasion of Kuwait was what kick-started international intervention in the affairs of Iraq and exposed the mess that had been made of Mesopotamia. Keegan points out that Iraq was a problem nation before Saddam rose to power because the British artificially pasted it together without concern for the rights of its people. Iraq was -- and still is -- composed of three distinct ethnic groups who the Ottomans ruled separately. Those groups also sharply differed on their views of Islam: the Sunni and the Shi'a.

Keegan spends a sufficient portion of the Iraq War explaining the domestic conflicts in Iraq. Unfortunately, Keegan justifies the invasion of Iraq in 2003 with the same rhetoric touted by the Bush administration without paying enough attention to the glaring lack of foresight of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His position throughout the Iraq War is obviously pro-war and in support of the neo-conservative stance that motivated it. For example, he uses words like "deprived" to describe the way President Clinton refused to ascribe to the doctrine of pre-emption (p. 96).

Admiration epitomizes the tone of the Iraq War from its opening pages, when Keegan describes the war as being "mysterious." His use of the term "mysterious" resembles common use of the word "exotic," which is used to refer to non-Western cultures. The Iraq War was mysterious, but not for the reasons Keegan mentions. Keegan notes what a mystery it was to be eluded by the weapons of mass destruction. The author also notes… [END OF PREVIEW]

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