Arming Iraq: How the U.S. and Britain Secretly Built Saddam's War Machine by Mark Phythian, (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997)

Editorial Reviews


From Library Journal
During the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, a number of countries, including the United States and Britain, increasingly tilted toward Iraq. While many Western countries declared their neutrality in this bloody conflict, several funneled arms and ammunition to Saddam Hussein's government in the hope of defeating Islamic Iran. Phythian (politics, Univ. of Wolverhampton, England) details both the motives of the United States and Britain in bolstering Hussein's regime and the mechanisms they employed. Using a variety of sources, he details the various schemes the United States and British governments hatched to turn Iraq into a regional threat to its neighbors. The strength of Phythian's book lies in its extensive coverage of Britain's covert role in what is arguably one of the most disastrous foreign policy ventures of the West in the past 50 years. The author's description and analysis of the Scott Inquiry's verdict on British complicity in the shipment of weaponry and dual-use technology to Iraq is especially fascinating. For both informed lay readers and scholars in the field of foreign policy.?Nader Entessar, Spring Hill Coll., Mobile, Ala.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.



From Kirkus Reviews
A chilling report on how Western vendors, with the covert connivance of their governments, helped oil-rich Iraq to acquire a state-of-the-art arsenal. Focusing on the role played by United Kingdom suppliers in the lucrative arms trade with Baghdad, Phythian (a faculty member at England's Wolverhampton University) first reviews why London and Washington (determined that Iraq should not lose the war it had started with Iran in 1981) allowed the despotic, expansion-minded Hussein regime to procure from domestic sources under their control not only advanced weaponry but also the means to build nuclear bombs. According to his authoritative account, most such business was done by legitimate enterprises tacitly encouraged to evade or ignore official embargoes. Further, because of application ambiguities (e.g., certain agricultural chemicals may be employed in either fertilizers or poison gases), dealers could plausibly deny any illegal intent in their wide-ranging export efforts. With jobs, profits, and the balance of power in a volatile region at stake, moreover, first-world capitals turned a blind eye to contraband traffic and risky transfers of dual-use technologies. The technology and weapons the West had so blithely supplied to Iraq were, of course, used against UN coalition forces during the battle for Kuwait. In the wake of Desert Storm, the UK and US launched investigations that eventually disclosed that the governments of both countries had played a duplicitous game, acting in ways at considerable variance with stated positions. The drawn- out inquiries also revealed that intelligence services routinely recruited the executives of defense contractors (including several the British Crown attempted to prosecute) to furnish information on their sales trips to Iraq. A timely, convincingly documented reminder that, even in democratic societies, actions taken in the name of national security may not be in the national interest. -- Copyright 1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


U.S. Representative Henry B. Gonzalez, 20th District, Texas
"The arming of Iraq is one of the most incredible chapters in recent foreign policy. Not only were foreign aid programs and international financial systems abused, but our military men and women were sent to fight the very war-machine we'd helped create. . . . Mark Phythian's thorough and incisive study helps bring this into full public view."


Peter Mantius, author of Shell Game
"Arming Iraq raises highly relevant public policy questions about the administration of arms exports, the role of intelligence services, and the extent to which governments are obligated to deal in good faith with the people they are sworn to serve." Shell Game


Book Description
During the Gulf War, U.S. and U.N. troops found themselves facing Western-made weapons, the result of the U.S. and Britain's dramatically failed covert policy to supply Iraq with arms in its 1980s war with Iran. This detailed case study discloses the full scope of that concealed policy, and untangles the complex web of major players who implemented and then covered it up.