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Losing Iraq and the Future of the Middle East

List Price: $16.95

April 21, 2009 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 320 Pages | ISBN 9781582434797
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“In Defeat, British journalist Jonathan Steele has managed something that might have been deemed beyond reach: He has asked the question in a new and interesting way... He has picked up on the small but vital things.” —Washington Post

While much has been made of the faulty intelligence claim that Saddam had a secret arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that was used to justify the U.S. invasion, in reality the failures of political intelligence were equally serious.

Award-winning reporter Jonathan Steele reveals the disastrous mistake U.S. decision-makers made by not seeing that the post-Saddam vacuum would be filled by Shia Islamists with close ties to a resurgent Iran. They underestimated the complexity of Iraqi society and the deep well of proud nationalism that was bound to produce resistance if the U.S. did not make clear that it intended to withdraw quickly.

Steele shows, for the first time, how the invasion and occupation were perceived by ordinary Iraqis whose feelings and experiences were ignored by Western policymakers. The result of such arrogance, Steele demonstrates, was a failure that will forever resonate among the darkest chapters of American and British history. Blending vivid reportage, informed analysis, and powerful historical narrative Defeat is the definitive anatomy of this horrendous catastrophe.

JONATHAN STEELE is a senior foreign correspondent and columnist on international affairs for The Guardian. He has won numerous journalistic awards, and he has twice been named International Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. A regular broadcaster on the BBC and CNN, Steele has written several books on international affairs. He lives in London.


“A good analysis of what went wrong in Iraq must be based on sufficient closeness to be authentic (particularly through understanding well the Arab points of view), but also sufficiently distant to allow the author to arrive at a convincing overall diagnosis (including why Iraq is not like Germany and Japan). Jonathan Steele has remarkable qualifications to write such a book and this is indeed a splendid contribution.” —Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize winner and author of Development as Freedom and Identity and Violence

“For many years, it has been a remarkable experience to watch history unfold through Jonathan Steele’s discerning eyes. Often a painful experience as well. Regrettably, that is true of his wrenching analysis of the suffering of Iraq-as always, with penetrating intelligence and deep knowledge, drawing on his own courageous reporting from Iraq and the region and genuine comprehension of the rich and complex historical background of the awful events taking place before our eyes, another chapter in the record of treachery, hypocrisy and cruelty. No less noteworthy is his sympathetic understanding of the perceptions of the victims, and their simple appeal to their tormentors: ‘Do not attempt to do us any more good. Your good has done us too much harm already,’ an appeal dating back to well over a century, resonating all to vividly today.” —Noam Chomsky, author of Manufacturing Consent

“This is a superb book—the best account so far of what went wrong in Iraq, and why. Measured, highly intelligent, and written from personal observation by perhaps the best foreign correspondent working in British journalism, it examines why the occupation of Iraq turned into the disaster it did, and not simply how it happened. With immense care and first-hand knowledge, Jonathan Steele has written the one indispensable account of the whole disturbing, thoughtless, cynical process.” —BBC

“America’s mistakes have been given an extensive airing in many excellent books… In Defeat, British journalist Jonathan Steele has managed something that might have been deemed beyond reach: He has asked the question in a new and interesting way… He has picked up on the small but vital things.” —Washington Post

“In an impeccably written and thoughtful book, Steele concludes that there is no alternative to withdrawal, expressing enduring surprise that neither Blair nor Bush can see what they have unleashed.” —The Independent

“Steele’s account takes a number of major themes and sees how they combined to create the current uncertain condition in Iraq. This allows him to develop a persuasive thesis about the logic of military occupation, supported by a rich array of evidence.” —Book Review Digest

“In his superb new book Defeat: Why America and Britain Lost Iraq, the British journalist Jonathan Steele makes a powerful case that it was not the poor decisions made during the occupation that doomed the United States, it was the occupation itself.” —

“This exquisite prose resonates with integrity and compassion. Amongst the many volumes that will record and unpick this catastrophic war, this book will stand the test of history. A classic of our times.” —Helena Kennedy, author of Just Law

“Steele has written a dazzling indictment.” —Jonathan C. Randal, author of Osama: The Making of a Terrorist

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