by Research Unit for Political Economy
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2003, 144pp. pb
This is the best of the available books on the invasion of Iraq, from an overall perspective. Despite the title, the material stems from December 2002 and February 2003, just before the invasion. Readers of MIM Notes have already seen most of this material, but already at least one reviewer has expressed satisfaction in seeing many items pulled together in one book.
The authors were confident the invasion would occur and named the economic reasons for it as well as the colonial administration that did take shape after the invasion. In other words, nothing in the book proved wrong once the invasion actually occurred.
The most important aspect of this book is that it goes back into history and interests the reader in economic subjects, but in a highly accessible manner. Readers who become interested in this material and who want heavier analysis can find it later from the same Monthly Review Press, especially in the 1960s and 1970s titles concerning China. It is by reading books like this one that the public can build up its understanding of political economy.
MIM has only very slight complaints. One is that the RUPE authors correctly dwell on the competition of the euro and the dollar. However, it is not quite correct to say that the existence of dollar reserves, and dollar-denominated trade has created the only financial basis for the united $tates to fund its trade deficit. This is a misunderstanding of finance capitalism and how it works. The status of the dollar is a factor in the dollar's own price relative to other currencies, but financing of trade deficits is related to things such as the nature of investor beliefs about asset values in the united $tates. For example, as the RUPE authors mention, Japan has been in a long recession. Japanese investors going into the united $tates do so not just because there is a bias toward the dollar internationally, but because they believe there is no other proper outlet for capital. To say that the united $tates is a mess does not leave Japanese investors with a necessarily better outlet.
Two, in passing, the authors mention that the united $tates will use revolts by the Arab peoples as an excuse for further intervention. Happily, the RUPE authors also explain that the global masses will have a say in how the U.$. strategy for empire works out. We had only a momentary concern that the RUPE might be saying it was time not to revolt.
Something worth mentioning before we close is the authors' sharp exposure of the Indian rulers fueling hatred against Islam and lining up evermore loyally with the u.$. imperialists. This book sheds welcome light on the geopolitics of the region near India and many other regions as well.
Buy This Book