The 2003 Iraq war remains among the most mysterious armed conflicts of modernity. In The Iraq War, John Keegan offers a sharp and lucid appraisal of the military campaign, explaining just how the coalition forces defeated an Iraqi army twice its size and addressing such questions as whether Saddam Hussein ever possessed weapons of mass destruction and how it is possible to fight a war that is not, by any conventional measure, a war at all.
Drawing on exclusive interviews with Donald Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks, Keegan retraces the steps that led to the showdown in Iraq, from the highlights of Hussein’s murderous rule to the diplomatic crossfire that preceded the invasion. His account of the combat in the desert is unparalleled in its grasp of strategy and tactics. The result is an urgently needed and up-to-date book that adds immeasurably to our understanding of those twenty-one days of war and their long, uncertain aftermath.
Ubiquitous military historian Keegan (Intelligence in War) offers a reportage-based account of a "mysterious war." Keegan addresses the war's anomalies 200,000 soldiers took a country of almost 30 million in three weeks; the war's justification (WMD) never materialized; the Iraqi army "melted away" and the populace tried only to stay out of the way by surveying the post World War I origins of Iraq, Saddam's rise to power, the nature of his rule and his external ambitions. The result is a work with broader scope than Murray and Scales's TheIraqWar (2003), and one that makes a case for the war as justified in moral, legal and practical contexts. Saddam emerges, predictably enough, as a particularly nasty regional despot and the architect of his own destruction through his intransigent failure to satisfy the demands of an increasingly frustrated international community. Keegan divides his account of the campaign itself into "American" and "British" chapters, and he praises the skill of the planners and commanders of both armed forces. His accounts of British operations in the Shiite south and the U.S. drive on Baghdad affirm the high morale and fighting power of the troops involved. Keegan in particular demonstrates the U.S. mastery of mechanized maneuver war, but underplays the problems of control and pacification that have been making headlines since the turn of the year.