Getting Out: Historical Perspectives on Leaving Iraq

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Eventually every conqueror, every imperial power, every occupying army gets out. Why do they decide to leave? And how do political and military leaders manage withdrawal? Do they take with them those who might be at risk if left behind? What are the immediate consequences of departure? For Michael Walzer and Nicolaus Mills, now is the time to ask those questions about exiting—and to worry specifically about the difficulties certain to arise as we leave—Iraq.

Getting Out approaches these issues in two sections. The first, entitled "Lessons Learned," examines seven historical cases of how and how not to withdraw: Britain's departure from the American colonies and from India, the French withdrawal from Algeria, Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, and the U.S. decision to leave (or not leave) the Philippines, Korea, and Vietnam. These cases offer a comparative perspective and an opportunity to learn from the history of political and military retreats.

The second section, "Exiting Iraq," begins with an introduction to just how the United States got into Iraq and continues with an examination of how the U.S. might leave from a diversity of voices, ranging from those who believe that the Iraq war has produced no real good to those who hope for a decent ending. In addition to essays by volume editors Walzer and Mills, Getting Out features contributions by Shlomo Avineri, Rajeev Bhargava, David Bromwich, Frances FitzGerald, Stanley Karnow, Brendan O'Leary, George Packer, Todd Shepard, Fred Smoler, and Stanley Weintraub.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Our entry into Iraq was a moral and operational catastrophe, but our exit doesn't have to be. Getting Out shows that if we take the trouble to learn from history the United States can do in Iraq what few departing imperial powers ever do: make the welfare of those left behind its highest priority."—Hendrik Hertzberg, New Yorker

"An arresting, morally serious book, of the sort that readers have come to expect from the precincts of Dissent."—Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy: Jackson to Lincoln

"From Stanley Weintraub's crisp essay on Great Britain's withdrawal from the Colonies after its defeat in the American Revolutionary War to studies of much more recent disengagements, the contributions offer a variety of useful and stimulating perspectives on the complex problems involved in orderly withdrawals."—Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs

"This admirable book makes it plain that one reason why military occupations are, in general, a bad idea, is that exit ramps get blocked and horrors ensue. It is morally evident that, for the occupying power, there is no end to responsibilities, which begin even in nightmares. This is not a book that offers simple recipes for Iraq or Afghanistan. But people of all persuasions should read it to deepen their awareness of the moral imperatives."—Todd Gitlin, Columbia University

"This collection will appeal to a broad audience. Excellent at dealing with a complicated topic both historically and in terms of the current situation in Iraq, it will appeal to anyone interested in the fate of our world today."—Library Journal

Library Journal
Eleven leading experts contribute essays here setting the issue of the United States getting out of Iraq into current and historical context. Walzer (emeritus, Inst. for Advanced Study, Princeton; Just and Unjust Wars) and Mills (literature & American studies, Sarah Lawrence Coll.; Winning the Peace: The Marshall Plan and America's Coming of Age as a Superpower), coeditor and editorial board member, respectively, of Dissent magazine, self-described as "a magazine of the left," present essays in two categories: The first section, "Lessons Learned," looks at seven historical examples of occupier withdrawal, both successes and failures. The second group of essays focuses on "Exiting Iraq," examining U.S. involvement there and how withdrawal might be managed. These essays come from a variety of perspectives. VERDICT Owing to the highly readable essay format, this collection will appeal to a broad audience. Excellent at dealing with a complicated topic both historically and in terms of the current situation in Iraq, it will appeal to anyone interested in the fate of our world today.—Krista Bush, Univ. of New Haven, West Haven, CT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812242164
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/8/2009
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Walzer is Professor Emeritus in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and editor of Dissent. He is the author of many books, including Just and Unjust Wars and, most recently, Thinking Politically: Essays in Political Theory. Nicolaus Mills is Professor of Literature and American Studies at Sarah Lawrence College. A long-time contributor to Dissent magazine, his most recent book is Winning the Peace: The Marshall Plan and America's Coming of Age as a Superpower.
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Table of Contents

—Michael Walzer

1. No Exit but Victory: Britain and the American Colonies
—Stanley Weintraub
2. America and the Philippines: The Graceful Withdrawal
—Stanley Karnow
3. India and Britain: The Consequences of Leaving Too Soon
—Rajeev Bhargava
4. The Surprising Success: The United States and Korea
—Fred Smoler
5. France and Algeria: Claim Victory and Au Revoir
—Todd Shepard
6. Vietnam and the United States: The Price of Intransigence
—Frances FitzGerald
7. The Gates of Gaza and the Limits of Power: Israel and Gaza
—Shlomo Avineri

8. 9/11 and the Road to Iraq
—Nicolaus Mills
9. The Persistence of Empire
—David Bromwich
10. Departing Responsibly
—Brendan O'Leary
11. It Isn't Over
—George Packer

List of Contributors

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