Excerpt from The End of Iraq by Peter W. Galbraith, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The End of Iraq

How American Incompetence Created a War Without End

by Peter W. Galbraith

The End of Iraq by Peter W. Galbraith X
The End of Iraq by Peter W. Galbraith
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jul 2006, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2007, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

On March 2, in Basra's Sa'ad Square, an Iraqi tank driver turned his turret toward a two-story portrait of Saddam Hussein and fired. The shell ignited a rebellion that spread from Basra up the Euphrates and Tigris river valleys, reaching the southern outskirts of Baghdad.

In Nasiriyah, crowds literally tore Ba'ath Party officials apart. Government offices, Ba'ath Party headquarters, and military installations were looted and burned. The intensity of Shiite feelings was encapsulated for me in an incident that I witnessed a few weeks later.

I was in a refugee camp on the Iraq-Kuwait border when a U.S. Army medic in a Humvee drove into the camp. Four children, he said, had been collecting tomatoes on the Iraqi side of the border when they stepped on unexploded American ordnance. It had detonated. Was there a doctor, he asked. I rounded up the only available medical person, a Kuwaiti medical student, and drove him into Iraq. Three of the children had been moved to an American field hospital. The medic pointed a pin light in a twelve-year-old boy's eyes. There was no response.

As I watched, the boy's mother came up the road, unaware that anything had happened. Then she saw her dead son, his knees torn open. As she ripped at her hair and clothes, the first words from her lips were "Saddam did this."

About ten days after the uprising began, Saddam consolidated his position sufficiently to move some Republican Guards south. Unlike the conscript army, the Republican Guards were mostly Sunni Arabs and their officers included many from Saddam's own Tikriti clan. The Republican Guards were the regime's last line of defense and Saddam had deliberately kept them out of battle in Kuwait. They were intact and not demoralized by military defeat.

In mid-March, American troops still occupied southern Iraq, holding positions not far from the cities and towns along the Euphrates Valley. The Iraqi advance on the rebellious Shiites arguably violated the cease-fire terms ending the Gulf War dictated by the U.S. theater commander General Norman Schwarzkopf, which Iraq had accepted on March 3. American troops in Iraq could have stopped the Republican Guards and saved tens of thousands of lives. But they had strict orders not to intervene.

Saddam's retribution was swift and terrible. Republican Guard tanks blasted apart ancient city centers. Shiite shrines became battlegrounds and then slaughterhouses as rebels, clerics, and unlucky civilians were massacred. The Republican Guard attached nooses to the gun barrels of their tanks, hanging Shiite men -- several at a time -- by elevating the gun. As all this took place, American soldiers looked on, many seething with anger because they were not allowed to stop the killings. Patrick Lowe was one of the soldiers who witnessed the atrocities. Years later, he heard me on the radio and sent me an e-mail describing what he had seen:

I was a recon scout with the 1st Armored Division. I was responsible for graves registration and EPW's [enemy prisoners of war] for the Squadron. After the ground war I was assigned to an area on the Baghdad to Basrah Highway, about 3 miles outside of Basrah. I watched as Iraq helicopter gun ships flew into the city and gunned down everything in their way. I watched as troops were sent in and I can tell you, first hand, what was going on in Basrah.

I was the one that had to process the civilian refugees that fled the town. They pleaded with me to do something, anything to stop this wholesale mass murder. I heard stories of women and children being burned alive, in their homes. Women being raped to death, men being chopped up alive. Civilians being used for target practice, mass hangings. I can hear their screams and wailing to this day on bad nights. I remember one day in particular. I had been pleading for almost 3 days with my chain of command to let me do something about what was going on. The Squadron Commander flew up to my position, and we had a face to face. He ordered me to do nothing without express orders. In 12 years of service that is the closest that I ever came to disobeying a serious direct order. I even went to the point of sending a patrol out to get closer to the killing fields to see if the Iraq soldiers would shoot at them so that I had a reason to engage and protect those innocent civilians. They did not engage and so we continued to sit and watch. I have never been more ashamed of our country's actions as I was at that point.

Copyright © 2006 by Peter W. Galbraith

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Pianist from Syria
    The Pianist from Syria
    by Aeham Ahmad
    Aeham Ahmad became famous as the face of Syrian suffering when a photo of him playing piano in the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Smiling Man
    The Smiling Man
    by Joseph Knox
    Joseph Knox's latest turns on a simple premise: an unidentified and unidentifiable murdered man is ...
  • Book Jacket: The Heavens
    The Heavens
    by Sandra Newman
    I've been a big fan of Sandra Newman's writing ever since reading her 2014 novel The Country of Ice ...
  • Book Jacket: Sugar Run
    Sugar Run
    by Mesha Maren
    Mesha Maren's debut novel is a plunge into the depths of the dark Southern gothic with pulsing and ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    American Princess
    by Stephanie Marie Thornton

    Rated 4.9 stars by BookBrowse members - one of the highest scores of all time!
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Last Year of the War
    by Susan Meissner

    A little-known story of WWII with great resonance for our times.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Girls Burn Brighter
by Shobha Rao

An extraordinary and heart-rending tale of two girls with all the odds against them.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win The Summer Country

Win up to 12 copies to share with friends or your book club!

A sweeping epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D T T! Full S A!

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.