Author: Kenneth M. Pollack, Director of Research, Saban Center for Middle East Policy
A CFR Book. Random House
This highly influential book, written as the Bush administration turned its sights on Saddam Hussein's regime, takes the reader back to the pre-war days of uncertainty about Saddam's weapons and his ties to major terrorist organizations, outlining a powerful case for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Senior Fellow Kenneth Pollack argues that to prevent Saddam from acquiring nuclear weapons, the United States has little choice to topple the regime, eradicate its weapons of mass destruction, and rebuild the country as a prosperous and stable society.
Pollack lays out five options available to the United States: bolstering containment, depending on a formal deterrence policy, mounting a covert action campaign, relying on airpower and the Iraqi opposition, and launching a full-scale invasion. Arguing the first four are no longer realistic, he concludes that only a full-scale invasion involving several hundred thousand American soldiers—what he terms the "least bad" option—can deal with the growing threat.
Pollack wisely argues that the United States must approach an invasion soberly and meticulously. The invasion force must be big enough to overwhelm the Iraqi armed forces and stifle Saddam's likely counterattacks; the United States must have the support of key Middle Eastern states; Washington should do everything it can to secure the support of its European and Asian allies; and it must be willing to commit the resources and the attention needed to rebuild a stable, prosperous Iraq once the war is over. In a prescient warning, Pollack cautions that if the United States is unwilling to make such commitments, an invasion could create as many problems as it solves.
"It is fair to say that whatever your feelings about the question of Iraq, you owe it to yourself to read Mr. Pollack's book, which is both hawkish and judicious....In short, Mr. Pollack has written a timely book that should be read as the public debate on Iraq continues."
—Richard Bernstein, New York Times
"The Threatening Storm is of great value....Pollack, a respected expert on the Gulf region both in and out of government, provides a meticulous account of the history, the known facts, and the pros and cons of different options in the current controversy over Iraq....comprehensive, well-informed, and for the most part down-to-earth...provides an invaluable antidote to the simplistic and sometimes emotional rhetoric from all sides that obscures this difficult question."
—Brian Urquhart, New York Review of Books
"If any book can shape the current thinking on Iraq, this one will assuredly be it. The author made his reputation as a young CIA analyst who predicted Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. He has since worked in think tanks and on the National Security Council and has long been a prominent voice in this debate.... Pollack is sober about the dangers, costs, and implications of invasion but ends by concluding that it is the best option. This well-written work will no doubt attract much controversy. But it will be indispensable, even for those who disagree with its conclusions."
—Elliot A. Cohen, Foreign Affairs
"This book makes the best case possible for an invasion of Iraq. Few Americans are as qualified as Kenneth M. Pollack to present this argument. His immersion over more than a decade in the vast sea of information available to the United States government has enabled him to offer a comprehensive analysis of United States-Iraqi relations, conditions in Iraq, the nature of Saddam Hussein's rule and his aggressive goals."
—Jack F. Matlock Jr., New York Times Book Review
"The Threatening Storm is both a primer on Iraq and a fascinating insider's view of American attempts to meet the threat it poses."
—Asla Aydintasbas, Wall Street Journal
"In assessing the coming war with Saddam Hussein, Kenneth Pollack's The Threatening Storm has supplied all the necessary arguments for an invasion of Iraq...knowledgeable, convincing, well-documented..."
—Douglas Porch, Washington Post Book World
"This book, I believe, will change the course of our national debate on Iraq. The trouble with the debate up to now is that the war's opponents have not been forced to confront a detailed and realistic picture of what will happen if Saddam is not definitively stripped of his weapons of mass destruction and deposed. Yet no one, I wager, will now be taken seriously on this issue who has not come to grips with the facts and arguments of The Threatening Storm. Buy it. Read it. Like it or not, there will be a test."
—Stanley Kurtz, National Review
"Pollack manages to eschew the cant, stupidity, and obfuscation which are the common currency of much of the current public debate over Iraq policy and has produced one of the key books—probably the key book—for anyone trying to grapple with the Iraq question."
—Joshua Micah Marshall, Washington Monthly
"Indispensable....Considering the complexity of these subjects, Pollack's treatment of them is both thorough and admirably concise. But by far the most impressive part of the book is the third section, where he lays out the various options the U.S. might now pursue.
—Frederick W. Kagan, Commentary
"Much of the debate about war with Iraq has featured simplistic analysis and bombastic rhetoric. Given the stakes involved, consideration of this issue deserves a solid intellectual foundation, based more on fact than passion. Kenneth Pollack's The Threatening Storm provides a welcome dose of common sense....Although Pollack argues strongly for prompt action against Hussein, The Threatening Storm presents a balanced evaluation of policy options."
—Philip Seib, The Dallas Morning News
"Kenneth Pollack has brilliantly written a comprehensive and insightful analysis of the problem Iraq poses for the United States. This is a must read for those desiring an in-depth understanding of the issues in this complex problem and for those who are responsible for developing policy.
—General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret.)
"Iraq is at the top of America's foreign policy agenda and this book should be at the top of your reading list. Kenneth Pollack approaches the problem of Saddam Hussein without ideological blinkers or prejudices. He provides a clear-eyed account of the breakdown of American policy toward Saddam Hussein and makes a powerful case for a shift in that policy. Whether or not you agree with Pollack's solution-and I do-you will admire The Threatening Storm. It is intelligent, balanced, and measured; a model of fair-minded analysis on a topic that rarely gets any. Before you make up your mind on Iraq, read this book."
—Fareed Zakaria, Editor, Newsweek International
"One of the most important books on American foreign policy in years. There is no greater strategic challenge than Iraq, and nobody better qualified to tackle it than Kenneth Pollack. To have such comprehensive, high-quality professional analysis available publicly and in real time is simply extraordinary. From now on, all serious debate over how to handle Saddam starts here."
—Gideon Rose, Managing Editor, Foreign Affairs
Kenneth M. Pollack is Olin senior fellow and director for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. From 1995-96 and 1999-2001, he served as director for Gulf affairs at the National Security Council, where he was the principal working-level official responsible for implementation of the U.S. policy toward Iraq. He is also the author of Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991.