Baram's long essay offers a wealth of little-known information and a shrewd assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of Saddam Husayn's regime, based on the author's encyclopedic knowledge of the Iraqi political and tribal elite and the complex relationships within the president's own extended family. Baram finds that although the regime has been weakened by internal division, defections (especially of Husayn Kamil) and family feuds, its leader's capacity to hold on to power remains largely unshaken. "As long as it is not committed explicitly and decisively to the ouster of the Iraqi President, the international community should not be surprised to see itself further manipulated to suit Saddam Husayn's purposes." His general conclusion is bleak: although weakened, Saddam Husayn is as firmly entrenched as ever, and those opposing him, nationally, regionally and internationally, are weaker and more divided than they were in 1991.
Contributors to Clawson's edited volume examine six policy options for the United States: (1) pursuing a narrower form of containment; (2) limiting action against the Iraqi regime to occasions when the regime attacks its neighbors; (3) continuing present policies; (4) supporting the opposition to weaken Saddam Husayn; (5) assisting the opposition to bring down the regime and take over power for itself; (6) full-scale U.S. invasion leading to an ouster of the regime. The authors present arguments for and against each of these courses of action, without drawing general conclusions.
Both short books offer a useful guide to current realities, but neither addresses a key problem: the evident U.S. inability to keep the anti-Saddam coalition up to the mark, both regionally and internationally. Why on earth, I cannot help thinking—and as I thought at the time—was General Schwarzkopf ordered not to push on to Baghdad in 1991?