In This Review

A Solitary War: A Diplomat's Chronicle of the Iraq War and Its Lessons
A Solitary War: A Diplomat's Chronicle of the Iraq War and Its Lessons
By Heraldo Muñoz
Fulcrum Publishing, 2008, 288 pp

This sophisticated insider account by a seasoned Chilean scholar-diplomat of the international intrigue surrounding the Iraq war inadvertently dispels two major myths -- that George W. Bush has been disengaged from policymaking and that he has ignored Latin America. With professional precision, Muñoz records the long list of personal phone calls and substantive meetings between Bush and the leaders of the two Latin American nations, Chile and Mexico, that held nonpermanent seats on the UN Security Council during the run-up to the war. Muñoz's main purpose is to chastise Bush for brushing aside Latin American advice and to powerfully advocate for multilateral cooperation in confronting global problems. He does not, however, offer clear guidance on how international institutions that too often give folks such as Russia's Vladimir Putin and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez veto powers can be made more effective, and he rejects the more workable formula of ad hoc issue-oriented coalitions. Nor does he elaborate on the domestic political constraints that impede full engagement by Latin American governments with Washington. Few Latin American insiders are willing to candidly dissect their own countries' internal foreign-policy-making processes or their imperfect leaders, and Muñoz, despite this otherwise worthy contribution, is no exception.