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The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq

A compelling, masterly portrait of a country revaged by foreign occupation.

In February 2003, Patrick Cockburn secretly crossed the Tigris river from Syria into Iraq just before the US/British invasion, and has covered the war ever since. In The Occupation, he provides a vivid and disturbing picture of a country in turmoil, and the dangers and privations endured by its people.

The Occupation explores the mosaic of communities in Iraq, the US and Britain's failure to understand the country they were invading and how this led to fatal mistakes. Cockburn, who has been visiting Iraq since 1978, describes the disintegration of the country under the occupation. Travelling throughout Iraq, from the Kurdish north, to Baghdad, Falluja and Basra, he records the response of the country's population – Shia and Sunni, Arab and Kurd – to the invasion, the growth of the resistance and its transformation into a full-scale uprising. He explains why deepening religious and ethnic divisions drove the country towards civil war.

Above all, Cockburn traces how the occupation's failure led to the collapse of the country, and the high price paid by Iraqis. He charts the impact of savage sectarian killings, rampant corruption and economic chaos on everyday life: from the near destruction of Baghdad's al-Mutanabi book market to the failure to supply electricity, water and, ironically, fuel to Iraq's population.

The Occupation is a compelling portrait of a ravaged country, and the appalling consequences of imperial arrogance.

Reviews

  • “A wealth of telling detail.”
  • “Cockburn's account of the evolving conflict ... is informed by his keen personal observations and understanding of the complexities and horrors of daily life in Iraq.”
  • “Of the raft of books about the calamitous mismanagement of the intervention in Iraq, The Occupation is probably the most readable and certainly the only one that—even if only in the driest possible way—manages to be amusing.”
  • “A masterpiece of journalism.”
  • “From the front line itself, the brilliant and brave Patrick Cockburn has produced one of the best books of the year.”
  • “Brilliantly told... No Western reporter knows the country better.”
  • “A necessary book.”
  • “One of the most accurate and intrepid journalists in Iraq.”

Blog

  • After Chilcot: A Reading List on Iraq and the “War on Terror”

    “We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.” — John Chilcot.

    The long-awaited Chilcot Report, spanning almost a decade of UK government policy decisions between 2001 and 2009, was released today. The report finds that there was no “imminent threat” from Saddam Hussein, and that Tony Blair had gone to war before “peaceful options for disarmament” had been exhausted — the UK's invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not a “last resort”.

    Verso presents a reading list of books that contextualize the disaster resulting from the "War on Terror" and the refugee crisis rooted in its violence. After the invasion by coalition forces in 2003, Iraq began fracturing along sectarian lines, unleashing years of violence and displacement. With the outbreak of war in Syria in 2011, ISIS exploited the chaos and societal tensions of the region to sweep to power on a brutal campaign that has displaced millions of civilians. The Iraq War, too, led to increased risk of terrorism in Europe as well as within the Middle East. 


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  • Post Orlando / Post Brexit Anti-Islamophobia Reading List

    Following the tragic Orlando massacre at a gay nightclub, both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called for a return to “the spirit of 9/12,” a reference to a dark period of racism, surveillance, and state sanctioned Islamophobia after the September 11th attacks. In the United Kingdom, instances of xenophobia and Islamophobia have reportedly surged following the EU referendum, leaving migrants and minorities, particularly Muslim women, vulnerable to attack and discrimination. As events unfold and the "Brexit" debates continue, we present a reading list of key titles that shed light on the origins of Islamophobia and ways we can organize to fight it. 

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  • 'Religion: a private affair?' A rebuttal of a commonplace idea by Christine Delphy

    The author of Close to Home: A Materialist Analysis of Women’s Oppression and the forthcoming Dominating Others: Feminism and Racism after the War on Terror interrogates the new French state secularism.


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