ZNet Interviews Anthony Arnove

(1) Can you tell ZNet, please, what the updated edition of Iraq Under Siege is about? What is it trying to communicate?


When people have asked me if I would bring out an updated edition of Iraq Under Siege, which first came out in 2000, my answer has always been no — that I hoped the book would soon become historically obsolete and gather dust on a library shelf as a chronicle of a time that had passed. Tragically, not only for the people of Iraq but for those around the globe who hope for an alternative to the daily violence of this world, it is more relevant today than when it was first published.


The drive to escalated war, even perhaps occupation, is intensifying. The sanctions continue. The no-fly zone bombings continue. And so do the lies used to justify the dehumanization and destruction of the Iraqi people, the lies that the authors of this book systematically challenge. After the Bush II administration launched its war on the world (selling it as an endless “war on terrorism”), it became clear to many of the people who worked on Iraq Under Siege that a new edition was needed and that we needed to not only go over the history of US policy in Iraq, but lay out the case against Bush’s war. With the October vote in Congress giving Bush a blank check for war, this is even more urgent.


We would have liked to have included more new material, but with South End’s limited time and means, we were able to add a new afterword by Denis Halliday, the former UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq who resigned in 1998 in protest against the sanctions. We also added updates, in some cases significant ones, of the Introduction (which I wrote) and the chapters by Peter Pellett, Rania Masri and Ali Abunimah, Naseer Aruri, Voices in the Wilderness, and Sharon Smith. The list of contributors also includes: Dr. Huda S. Ammash, Barbara Nimri Aziz, David Barsamian, Phyllis Bennis, George Capaccio, Noam Chomsky, Robert Fisk, Kathy Kelly, John Pilger, and Howard Zinn.



(2) Can you tell ZNet something about writing the book? Where does the content come from? What went into making the book what it is?


The sources for Iraq Under Siege comes partly from the alternative press, and partly from first-hand experience in Iraq, but much of the material is actually based on the mainstream press, official UN reports, and other official sources. The story of Iraq has been buried and distorted by the media and distorted by the government, but the evidence is there if you look between the lines.


All of the chapters are thoroughly fact-checked and documented, so that people can confidently and factually make the argument against the sanctions and against the war on Iraq‘s people.



(3) What are your hopes for Iraq Under Siege? What do you hope it will contribute or achieve, politically? Given the effort and aspirations you have for the book, what will you deem to be a success? What would leave you happy about the whole undertaking? What would leave you wondering if it was worth all the time and effort?


The hope of all of the folks who have worked on the book is that the book will continue to be of service to anti-sanctions and antiwar activists, not just in the United States but internationally.


The book is oriented toward an activist audience, and is meant to help win new people to the movement against the war in Iraq.


The honest answer is that those of us who have worked on Iraq Under Siege will only have succeeded when the book does become a historical relic.



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