[ISBN: 978-1-935982-03-6; 302pp; $21 in U.S.] Reidar Visser is a research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and one of the western world's best-informed analysts of Iraq's internal politics. His book A Responsible End? The United States and the Iraqi Transition, 2005-2010 is an author-curated and -guided compilation of this brilliant researcher's best shorter texts, brought together within a single cover for the first time from various sources-- on his blog, his Historiae website, on the History News Network, and elsewhere. Veteran Washington-based military analyst Tom Ricks has written, "I first came across [Visser] three or so years ago when a member of Petraeus's staff said, 'Don't ask me! If you want to understand Basra, read Reidar Visser'."
This form of compilation has allowed Visser to build up a sustained narrative about both the internal politics of Iraq and the United States' continuing role and involvement in Iraqi politics over the five-year period that started with the country's U.S.-sponsored elections in 2005. Many Americans had hoped that the 2005 elections would usher in a new era of democracy and flourishing in Iraq. But their immediate aftermath was devastating for many (perhaps most) Iraqis, as sectarian violence engulfed Baghdad and many other key areas of the country in 2006-2007. The country was able to hold provincial elections in 2009 and a second nationwide election in March 2010. But after those latter elections, the leaders of the large Iraqi political blocs were not able (or perhaps, willing) to form the coalition that establishment of a new government would require; and in many ways Iraq support for the U.S.-sponsored constitution of 2004-2005 seemed to have seriously eroded.
In this book he provides clear explanations and analysis of the complex path Iraq's internal politics has taken, and charts how the policies Washington has pursued in Iraq-- first under Pres. George W. Bush and later under Pres. Barack Obama--have very often had the effect of very seriously weakening the very country that Pres. Bush once argued he had come to "save".
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