In This Review

The Death Lobby: How The West Armed Iraq
The Death Lobby: How The West Armed Iraq
By Kenneth R. Timmerman
443 pp, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1991

Each month brings new information about the extent of Iraq's programs for nuclear weapons, missiles and other weapons of mass destruction. How could the West not have known about this massive arsenal before the recent Gulf War? Timmerman's answer is that Western governments did know, since they were often responsible for the supplies of equipment and technology. The "death lobby," as the author labels it, was motivated primarily by greed, but also by the belief of some governments that an Iranian victory over Iraq would be a strategic disaster. This compelling indictment cannot be dismissed, although it suffers from obvious problems of instant histories. Sources are often lacking; the prose is sometimes purple; the focus is one-dimensional. Still, the overall account of Western complicity-especially German and French-in the Iraqi military buildup is persuasive and raises serious questions about whether arms control is a realistic prospect as long as billions of dollars are to be made by selling military technology and weapons.