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Chronicle of a War, 20 Years On

The case for removing the worst of the Arab prison states looks more justifiable than ever, even as the blunders involved in its execution look even more unpardonable.

· 17 min read
Chronicle of a War, 20 Years On

A review of Confronting Saddam Hussein: George W. Bush and the Invasion of Iraq by Melvyn P. Leffler, 368 pages, Oxford University Press (February 2023)

When asked after the ouster of Saddam Hussein how history would judge the Iraq war, President George W. Bush replied, “History, we don’t know. We’ll all be dead.” For all the alluring modesty of this reply, Bush did not reckon on an eminent and conscientious historian of US foreign policy like Melvyn Leffler. Leffler’s new book, Confronting Saddam Hussein, examines the tangled origins of the war without reproducing the historical revisionism that has long disfigured public understanding of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The purpose of his study is neither to denounce the decision to wage war nor to praise it, but to better apprehend how it came to pass.

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