Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq. Rev. ed.


384 pages
Contains Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-385-66368-7
DDC 327.5670182'1





Reviewed by Dave Bennett

David Bennett is the national director of the Department of Workplace Health, Safety and Environment at the Canadian Labour Congress in Ottawa.


For the last 90 years, the history of Iraq has been one of unremitting exploitation by the U.S. and the western European powers, principally Great Britain. They exploited resources, organized coups, and promoted then betrayed revolts, as well as selling poison gas and unconventional weapons to both Iraqi regimes and Iraq’s enemies. They sponsored economic sanctions, causing the death of hundreds of thousands, mainly children.


Canadian journalist Barry Lando tells this story with great passion and outrage. He relies on news reports, secondary sources, interviews with leaders, and the limited amount of available documentation. This is the best account we will get until the full release of the American and British primary sources many decades from now.


Lando shows that the coalition invasion of Iraq in the Second Gulf War on March 19, 2003, was not a new departure. The previous policy had been to impose economic sanctions, ostensibly to require Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) but really to force him from power. Under George W. Bush, a clique of neo-conservatives worked from the beginning to make war on Iraq. They were given the occasion by 9/ll: Saddam was conspiring with international terrorists and would give his WMD to al-Qaeda. The first of these was utterly false and the latter highly dubious.


The only major flaw in Lando’s book is that there is no discussion of the relationship between the invasion of Afghanistan and the war on Iraq the following year. The invasion of Afghanistan was in two parts: war on the government of the country (“the Taliban”) and a major police action aimed at killing Osama bin Laden and neutralizing al-Qaeda. The latter was botched so badly that it leads to suspicion that bin Laden was more useful to American foreign policy alive than dead. Certainly, it enabled the Americans to claim that al-Qaeda was active in Iraq and that Saddam was developing his WMD, posing a threat greater than in the 1990s. The attack on Iraq was even more outrageous than Lando makes out.


Lando, Barry M., “Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq. Rev. ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/32249.