Observers of late have dusted off the history of the United Kingdom's occupation of Iraq and would-be nation building there (begun during the latter years of World War I) to set alongside the U.S. effort some nine decades later and, in the process, offer a cautionary tale. Here is a well-executed collective effort to present the first part of that comparative history -- the Iraqi-British story. Indeed, coverage includes more than just bilateral confrontation. Piecing together the always multidimensional nature of Middle East diplomacy are separate chapters treating the negotiations that created the Iraqi-Turkish border as well as the Iraqi-Iranian border, the role of oil, the declining role of Russia and the peripheral role of the United States, plus a chapter placing Iraq in the ongoing "Eastern Question" diplomacy. Other chapters treat the Kurds, Basra, and Baghdad. All these contributions blend into a succinct yet comprehensive account of this period. And, yes, The Creation of Iraq does illustrate both the continuing characteristics of great-power interventions in the Middle East and the constants that any occupier must face in Iraq.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.