Synopses & Reviews
The war against Iraq divided opinion throughout the world and generated a maelstrom of spin and counterspin. The man at the eye of the storm, and arguably the only key player to emerge from it with his integrity intact, was Hans Blix, head of the UN weapons inspection team.
This is Dr. Blix’s account of what really happened during the months leading up to the declaration of war in March 2003. In riveting descriptions of his meetings with Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Kofi Annan, he conveys the frustrations, the tensions, the pressure and the drama as the clock ticked toward the fateful hour. In the process, he asks the vital questions about the war: Was it inevitable? Why couldn’t the U.S. and UK get the backing of the other member states of the UN Security Council? Did Iraq have weapons of mass destruction? What does the situation in Iraq teach us about the propriety and efficacy of policies of preemptive attack and unilateral action?
Free of the agendas of politicians and ideologues, Blix is the plainspoken, measured voice of reason in the cacophony of debate about Iraq. His assessment of what happened is invaluable in trying to understand both what brought us to the present state of affairs and what we can learn as we try to move toward peace and security in the world after Iraq.
"Blix reluctantly came out of retirement in 2000 to lead the U.N. weapons inspections team in Iraq because he was the only man everyone could agree on for the job. Three years later, those clamoring for military intervention grumbled at his inability (or, as they saw it, refusal) to present evidence of weapons of mass destruction, but he reminds readers that his assignment was to assess and report on the available evidence. Although his instincts told him Saddam was probably 'still engaged in prohibited activities and retained prohibited items,' as he dryly puts it, hard evidence never materialized. This play-by-play account of the months of diplomacy and inspection efforts leading up to the war is almost always strictly professional in tone, and though it does take us behind closed doors for meetings with world leaders, nothing here will radically transform the historical record or the ongoing debate. Blix doesn't have any scores to settle; while noting that Condoleezza Rice was never bashful about expressing her opinion, for example, he notes that she never tried to exert undue influence over him. He even laughs off some of the sharpest barbs from the conservative press (though not the New York Post's unflattering comparison to Mister Magoo). When he does, near the end, shift emphasis from facts to opinions, he suggests the American-led drive to war was led at least in part by 'a deficit of critical thinking,' and that the much-ballyhooed WMD threat probably doesn't exist but he doesn't lament Hussein's overthrow. His sober account probably won't sway hardline critics, but it offers insightful perspective on how the Iraq situation snowballed into a geopolitical crisis. (Mar. 9)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Blix is unsparing of the United States in his concluding
sections....[A]n important addition to the historical
record." Fareed Zakaria, The New York Times Book Review
Starting with the weapons inspections in Iraq in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War and concluding with the invasion of Iraq by the United States and the United Kingdom in March of 2003, Disarming Iraq
is a detailed, illuminating chronicle of the activities of Hans Blix's weapons inspection team.
Blix's commentary gives us an unprecedented understanding of the inspectors' work, findings, and conclusions. And his descriptions of his meetings with George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Kofi Annan convey the frustrations, tensions, and drama of the months leading up to the invasion in 2003. Blix's unique position and the intelligence and integrity he brings to his recounting of these momentous events add immeasurably to the significance of the questions he raises about the propriety and efficacy of the policies of preemptive attack and unilateral action.
Blix's plainspoken, measured voice of reason is free of the agendas of politicians and ideologues ("We were without spin," he says of the U.N. weapons inspectors). His assessment of what happened is invaluable in trying to understand not only what brought us to the present state of affairs in Iraq but also what the possibilities are for preventing the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction in the future.
This detailed, illuminating chronicle of the activities of Hans Blix's weapons inspection team offers an unprecedented understanding of the inspectors' work, findings, and conclusions.
About the Author
Hans Blix was the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1981 to 1997 and was a member of Sweden's delegation to the United Nations from 1961 to 1981. From 2000 to 2003, he was the executive director of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), supervising international inspections for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq until the inspections were suspended in March 2003. Blix has been named chairman of the newly formed International Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction, which began its work in January 2004. He lives in Sweden.