Books: Terror through the Centuries; Iraq: A Report from the Inside by Dilip Hiro (Granta, Pounds 8.99); the Final Frontier: America, Science and Terror by Dominick Jenkins (Verso, Pounds 19) and an Anatomy of Terror by Andrew Sinclair (Macmillan, Pounds 18.99). Reviewed by Simon Evans
Byline: Simon Evans
So, after all the resolutions, protests, threats and accusations we are finally, irrevocably, at war. In his latest book Dilip Hiro, a renowned Middle East expert, demonstrates, concisely and cogently, the duplicities of American foreign policy towards Iraq, stretching back more than 20 years.
Take Saddam's use of chemical weapons on the Kurds during the IranIraq war. In recent weeks this willingness to inflict the horrors of mustard and cyanide gas on his own people has been advanced as one reason why Saddam had to be removed from office.
Yet, as Hiro points out, America and its allies not only turned a blind eye but actively encouraged Saddam in his war against Iran, providing intelligence support and even destroying Iranian oil platforms.
So why the change of heart? Hiro suggests Bush's attack on Iraq forms part of a strategy of what amounts to permanent war, hiking up defence spending and enhancing his own standing by focusing American opinion on a perceived external threat. Also, as Hiro points out, Bush and his hawkish advisers are not bright enough - or simply don't care - that they are doing the hated Osama bin Laden's work for him, in stirring up a potentially cataclysmic conflict between Islam and the West.
It also seems a bit rich that the pretext for the current conflict was Saddam's supposed possession of nuclear, chemical and biological arsenals. For, when it comes to weapons of mass destruction, America's hands are by no means clean - as the residents of Nagasaki and Hiroshima know all too well.
The potentially lethal combination of science, industry and the military is documented in Dominick Jenkins' worthy but rather indigestible book. Jenkins, a former Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth activist, looks at how the Americans have long been at the forefront of harnessing science for war, of killing carried out on an industrial scale. …