In the latest issue:

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick


Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

Jia Tolentino

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Short Cuts: Harry Goes Rogue

Jonathan Parry

I blame the BritishCharles Glass

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website ( — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.

  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.

but the voice-with-a-smile of democracy
announces night & day
‘all poor little peoples that want to be free
just trust in the u s a’

e.e. cummings, ‘Thanksgiving (1956)’

We in Iraq are losing our minds. War does that to people, even to us in the North who have yet to see one. All that we have observed are B52s roaring through the skies to bomb cities south of here and a sideshow offensive to eradicate Islamic fundamentalists from the hills along the Iranian border. Oh, yes, the Iraqi Army did withdraw from the Kirkuk front into Kirkuk itself without a fight. Not much, compared to the madness in the South, but enough for us to share the insanity.

The war is two weeks old, a pup by most standards, but it feels like it’s already in overtime. The US Defense Secretary, Mr Donald ‘Rummy’ Rumsfeld, has just warned us that wearing down the Iraqi Army may take some time. Why does no one listen to him? Like most other politicians, he can, unexpectedly, utter a (belated) truth. George Bush has asked the Congress to stump up an extra $75 billion to replenish expended hardware and to transport more soldiery from the threatened homeland to the battlefield. The American television networks, less enthusiastic about bearing any burden and paying any price, are cutting back on staff out here and on airtime at home. Most of us, myself among the crowd, believed the Iraqi Army would go down like it did in 1991, when it was larger, better armed and had more money. Now, this weakened force is holding back the combined weight of the United States and Britain the way Yasir Arafat’s few thousand commandos kept the Israeli Army out of Beirut for nearly three months in 1982. I remember the words of a Palestinian activist in Beirut that year: ‘All the real fighting is done with Kalashnikovs. Everything else is fireworks.’

Saddam’s boys have the Kalashnikovs. Whether they fight out of fear of the leader or love of the country, they are battling harder and longer than the American game plan envisaged. I blame the British. Their forces are too few to make a difference, and Iraqis remember that their grandfathers fought against them when they created this country in 1921. What the hell are they doing back here? Throw in the daily bloodletting in the West Bank and Gaza, with the rumours that the US is threatening Syria on behalf of Israel, and you see that fear of the leader is not too distant from love of country. It worked for Stalin, when the Germans promised to liberate the Russians, and it seems to be doing the trick for his pupil Saddam. The Iraqi people themselves should have been allowed to overthrow the bastard in 1991, but the United States never wanted that. When it comes to changing regimes in the Middle East, as in Latin America of old, Americans prefer not to leave it to the natives.

Washington invited the British, the Poles, the Australians and just about any other nationality that still listens to it to participate in the overthrow of Mr Rumsfeld’s old negotiating partner, President and Field Marshal Saddam Hussein. However, Messrs Bush and Rumsfeld neglected to ask Iraq’s people to do anything other than stay out of the way. Prohibited from fighting alongside America against Saddam, many are fighting for him instead. They are sniping at American supply lines. One soldier blew himself up to kill four American marines, and Saddam awarded him two posthumous medals. As if to underline their misunderstanding of the world, American military spokesmen call Iraqis who are resisting their invasion ‘terrorists’. Who else on earth would call a man who fights a foreign soldier in his own country a terrorist?

Iraqi and other Arab television channels portray Iraqi citizens resisting the invader not as terrorists, but as heroes. Volunteers are leaving Jordan to fight for Iraq. One ABC News reporter with US troops in Safwan, a town just over the fence from Kuwait, said he was surprised to hear his Arabic translator tell him that people receiving American food parcels were not chanting, ‘Thank you, Uncle Sam, for the rice,’ but: ‘By our blood, by our souls, we will sacrifice our lives for you, O Saddam!’ Somebody fucked up, and blame is thrown from hand to hand like a live grenade. Sooner or later, if nobody falls on it, it will blow them all away. The generals blame Rumsfeld, who blames the Pentagon bureaucracy, who blame the State Department, who blame the CIA, who blame the Iraqi opposition, who aren’t part of the war and have no one to blame but themselves for trusting the United States. Soon, they’ll all, as in Vietnam, blame the press.

The only Iraqis who seem still to trust the United States are the Kurds, whose history of betrayal at America’s hands is longer than anyone else’s. The leader of their original nationalist movement, Mullah Mustafa Barzani, witnessed the fall of the Kurdish Mahabad Republic in 1946, when the US helped the Shah of Iran to crush the Stalin-supported statelet and hang its leaders. Barzani fled to the Soviet Union, but returned to fight the Iraqi state at America’s behest in 1974. When the Shah of Iran signed a border agreement with Saddam in Algiers in 1975, Henry Kissinger let Saddam blast the Kurds out of the mountains. Mullah Mustafa died, a much loved if defeated leader, in American exile. His son, Massoud, succeeded him. A hearty people with forgiving memories, the Kurds turned to the US for succour in 1988. That was when Saddam gassed many of their villages, notably Halabja. The US tried to accuse the Iranians of killing the Kurds. (Britain, for its part, denied that the gassing had taken place at all. Then Gwynne Roberts, a documentary film-maker, carried soil samples from Halabja to Porton Down for scientific analysis. Not only did the soil contain poison residue, it indicated that Saddam’s chemical formulae had originated in the Western world.) Three years later, the Kurds once again put their faith in the Stars and Stripes. President George Bush called on them to rise up after his conquest of Kuwait in February 1991. Rise they did, along with the Shiites. And massacred they were, like the Shiites. But the Kurds were redeemed when the US gave them a Saddam-free zone north of the 36th parallel, something no one offered the Shiites. That, no doubt, is one reason the southern villagers remain so bitter.

The United States abandoned the South to its fate in 1991, while General Norman Schwarzkopf was only miles away. Ali Hassan al-Majid, Saddam’s Reinhard Heydrich, oversaw the ruin of the rebellious Shiites’ homes and the torture of their children. Unlike the Kurds, the southern Shiites have remained under Saddam’s rule since 1991, a fate to which they had to accommodate themselves or die. They also suffered the worst of the economic sanctions. Where Kurdish infant mortality declined under self-rule, theirs rose tenfold or more under Saddam. And the blame for sanctions fell on the United States for compelling the United Nations to renew them each year. Whenever Saddam pops up on Iraqi television to show his people that the US has failed once again to assassinate him, he alleges that the Americans invaded because the UN was about to cancel sanctions. We must bear this in mind when young Iraqis approach British and American soldiers and shout at them to get out of their country.

The picture in Iraqi Kurdistan is the reverse of the South: no battles, very few American troops and a population that loves the United States. Iraq’s Kurds have lived in the North without fear of Saddam and his security forces for 12 years, with a brief interruption in 1996. The few thousand American troops who have flown in here over the last few weeks have stayed away from the population. There are no American checkpoints and no leaflet drops. American warplanes and Special Forces allowed one of the two largest Kurdish factions, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, to overcome a local Islamist group called Ansar al-Islam. For the most part, the combined operation by the peshmerga guerrillas and the Americans was a rare success in a country where setbacks are the norm. The annihilation and exodus of some eight hundred Ansar guerrillas permitted the US to claim a propaganda coup and to fudge the distinction between Kurdish Islamic misfits and America’s ennemis de l’année, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. The US also managed to claim that Ansar had poison gas that it could have used against, you guessed it, American cities. US propaganda aside, some of the Kurds dream that the Ansar battle will serve as a model for liberating the once Kurdish oil centre of Kirkuk. They ignore, however, the lack of American heavy artillery and armour up here that would take a long time to deliver on the Kurds’ few and primitive airstrips.

The Kurds appear to love the more or less absent Americans; the Shiites and other Arabs in the South appear to loathe them. This was not how it was supposed to be. Last January, Kanan Makiya of the Iraqi opposition told me he had recently met with President Bush at the White House. Bush asked him how the American Army would be received in Iraq. ‘With sweets and flowers,’ Makiya said. Bush then asked: ‘Would it be the same if the bombing was severe?’ ‘Does it have to be severe?’ Makiya asked. It would seem that the bombing has to be severe in order to win the battle for military dominance. But the more severe it is, the more likely the US will lose the ‘hearts and minds’ of which military spokesmen speak. So far, there is a severe shortage of sweets and flowers in the South of Iraq.

Rather than sweets and flowers, American soldiers are finding suicide bombers and young men who shoot Kalashnikovs at them. This increases their anxiety to such a degree that they killed seven women and children and wounded several others in a car that did not stop at one checkpoint. Which leaves the stronger impression on impressionable peasants: getting chocolate cakes from friendly Americans or the killing of those they know and love by those same Americans? In 1921 the British Empire beat back the natives and won the war in Iraq. Iraqis have yet to thank Britain, and I wonder when they will express their gratitude to the US for this war to kill off Saddam. Not that many will, in the end, mourn his death.

Who is winning this man’s war? Look at it like this. If Saddam is not losing, he is winning. If America is not winning, it is losing. In the South, the battle rages. In the North, thanks to America’s alienation of Turkey, the absence of American forces has kept the front more or less quiet. For the Kurds, despite their enthusiasm for the US, that may be a blessing. In the rest of the country, Vietnam-era phrases such as ‘hearts and minds’, ‘terrorist infiltrators’ and ‘friendly fire’ are resurrected. Soon, no doubt, President Bush will tell us that there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Beware. That’s no light. It’s fire.

1 April

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.