Adrian Weale

Counting the Cost

Muqtada Al-Sadr and the Fall of Iraq

By Patrick Cockburn

Faber & Faber 289pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict

By Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes

Allen Lane / The Penguin Press 312pp £20 order from our bookshop

It would be difficult, in recent history, to find a better illustration of the law of unintended consequences than President George W Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. The underlying fantasy was that a swift and decisive military campaign would be followed by a rapid reconstruction effort, spearheaded by some of America’s finest and most overtly Republican engineering corporations and funded by Iraq’s vast oil wealth. With this achieved, the United States would supervise a political renaissance in the Middle East. Iraq would become an affluent representative of democracy and the dominoes would begin to topple. Democracy and a fairer distribution of oil wealth, protected by the United States’s security umbrella, would pull the rug from under the feet of Arab feudal oligarchs and Islamic fundamentalists alike. After all, who wouldn’t want to live in an ordered, tolerant society that respects its neighbours (like Israel), and where there’s a halal McDonald’s franchise in every air-conditioned shopping mall?

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • David Jacques's Garden of Court and Country: English Design 1630-1730, reviewed by Tim Richardson ,
    • Lucy Popescu () appeals on the behalf of Rashad Ramazanov, a writer and blogger imprisoned in Azerbaijan ,
    • ''the icon of restlessness for a world that never seems able to settle.'' How Hamlet went on tour ,
    • . is upon us. Look out for free copies of Literary Review for festival attendees.,
    • 'If there is a god, nature is the breath of it and art ... is its messenger.' Jan Morris contemplates Wordsworth ,
    • Weekend read 2: Take inspiration from Jonathan Meades's 'anti'-recipes and 'serve up a treat' this Sunday ,
    • If you're at , starting tomorrow, there are free copies of Literary Review for festival attendees. Grab while stocks last!,