Review: Anthony Arnove: Iraq the logic of withdrawal

Jim Jepps


The logic of withdrawalAnthony Arnove's 'Iraq: the logic of withdrawal' is a comprehensive, well argued and surprisingly coherent run down of why the Western led coalition has to withdraw from Iraq, not just sometime in the future but right now.

Arnove is spot on when he states that "the US left in particular needs far greater clarity about the reasons for the war, the political context of the war, and an effective strategy for ending it."

This clearly laid out and rational account is certainly a good step towards this in a way that no amount of left sloganeering, moralising or rhetoric ever will be. It's also eminently readable.

I have to confess that five hundred years into the Iraq war as we are I wasn't sure how much more there was left to be said on the subject. However, this book highlights how confused and muddled much of the anti-war movement has been and demonstrates with real clarity the need for not just the ABC's of anti-imperialism but the XYZ's as well. XYZ's we can only reach if we grapple with the issues as they really are without falling back on the dogma and algebra of the past.

There are particularly useful sections on the history of imperialism in the region and of the US and pulls apart the lies upon which this war was based. It also helps clarify, I think, that the war was not wrong because it cost a lot of money that could have been spent elsewhere or that US and UK soldiers have been killed. After all if the war had been justified so would have been the cost - but that the war was wrong because it furthered the bloody aims of those whose interests standing in direct contradiction to those of the vast majority of the world.

Arnove says that we have to look to the Vietnam war to understand the factors that can defeat the US government's plans. He argues that the focus for the anti-war movement in the West should be to:

The resistance to the war should, he argues, take on the fight on many fronts, but also that we should not "confine our marching to Washington" or, of course, London. In fact the war against the war can only be won if we understand that there is no one centre to the movement and it is not single set piece events that will dig the resistance in deep enough to win.

When Arnove suggests that we "no longer confine our civil disobedience to the day after major mobilisations, when most protesters have gone home" he may be speaking to a specifically US audience but its resonances is felt very clearly for many anti-war activists in the UK.

In my view this book is a real contribution to the anti-war movement and proves the case that there is space for rational depth in the movement as well as political width.



Speaking tour


Iraq: the logic of withdrawal is published by The New Press.

Anthony Arnove, will be speaking at the following events during his tour of Britain:


Wednesday 14 June: Oxford 7.30pm

The Vaults, St Mary's Church, High Street

Co-organised with East Oxford Stop the War Coalition

Contact: Dave 07985 056089


Thursday 15 June: Cambridge 6.30pm 

Waterstones Bookshop, Sidney Street, Cambridge

Contact: Jim 07956 605634


Friday 16 June: London public meeting

End the Occupation Now!

With Anthony Arnove, Tariq Ali & Glen Rangwala

7pm, Indian YMCA, 41 Fitzroy Square, W1



Saturday 17 June: Edinburgh 3pm 5pm

Edinburgh Stop the War Coalition in association with Word Power


Sunday 18 June: Glasgow 1pm - 5pm

Scottish TUC Hall, 333 Woodlands Road Glasgow

"Conflicts, Occupation, Civil Liberties and Media Deception"

Speakers include: Anthony Arnove, Muhamamd Idrees Ahmad, Alan Hart, Rena Bivens

Co-organised with Glasgow Stop the War Coalition

For information on either Glasgow or Edinburgh, contact Gordon 0141 339 3323


Monday 19th June: Nottingham, 7:30pm

International Community Centre

61b Mansfield Road, Nottingham

For further information, ring Ranjan on 07775 863750


For more details



May 2006

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