Serfaty, a professor of U.S. foreign policy at Old Dominion University, asks why in 2003, the United States and Great Britain chose war with Iraq while France and Germany resisted it. Chapters separately examine each country as Serfaty tries to explain how distinct French, German, British, and U.S. narratives formed and shaped their leaders' decisions.
While an interesting analytical exercise, Architects of Delusion is poorly researched and written. Serfaty makes little effort to survey French and German language sources or to interview French or German political figures as he seeks to explain the formation of the decisions made by those countries. Lapses are many: For example, in his chapter about French history in the run-up to Iraq, Serfaty mentions neither the multi-billion and sanctions-busting Franco-Iraqi trade, French president Jacques Chirac's long personal history with Saddam Hussein, nor France's unique history in Iraq. Nor should the reader expect to find here mention of French sponsorship of Iraq's own Osirak nuclear reactor. The German chapter is as deficient: There is little discussion of how internal German politics—for example, the rise of the Green Party and coalition formation—shaped Berlin's position. Discussion of U.S. policymaking occurs at the 30,000 foot level; there is little detail and only sporadic but tangential references to writings by Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and vanity references to Serfaty's own works, causing much of the narrative to be un-sourced and grounded in little more than Serfaty's own opinion.
Serfaty's poor writing is just as handicapping. Sentences are run on, word choice is awkward, and structure confusing as the author indulges a fondness for tangents with an excessive use of parentheses. University of Pennsylvania Press appears to have conducted little editing before publishing. It is a shame that Architects flops, because serious study of the European approach to Iraq remains a vital missing piece in the narrative of the 2003 war in that country.