The instant book has a bad name, and no doubt some critics will view this work -- written before a war, not in its immediate aftermath -- with grave suspicion. It is nonetheless exceptionally thoughtful. If any book can shape the current thinking on Iraq, this one will assuredly be it. The author made his reputation as a young CIA analyst who predicted Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. He has since worked in think tanks and on the National Security Council and has long been a prominent voice in this debate. He walks his reader through a brief history of the Ba'athist Iraqi state, the Gulf War, and the tortured history of Iraq's relations with the world since 1991. He examines the options for dealing with Saddam Hussein and boils them down to two: deterrence or invasion. The former, he argues, is the riskier course, because the Iraqi dictator has consistently flouted the rules of rational calculation beloved by political scientists. Pollack is sober about the dangers, costs, and implications of invasion but ends by concluding that it is the best option. This well-written work will no doubt attract much controversy. But it will be indispensable, even for those who disagree with its conclusions.
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