Paul Rogers Into the Long War (London; Pluto Press, 2006) £12.99

January 30, 2007 17:35 | Reviewed by Brian Precious

This brief but important little book is the third in a series of volumes published by the Oxford Research Group (ORG), containing the text of the monthly briefings organised by the ORG since May 2003.This volume contains the core of the briefings from May 2005 to April 2006.

Don't think that you are just coming into a series of volumes that are well under way, and that you might need a lot of catching up to do, as this volume begins

with a summary of all the most important developments from September 2001 to April 2005.

These volumes cover identifiable phases in the development of the war in Iraq,as well as that in Afghanistan. What started as liberation turning to occupation became an increasingly organised insurgency, and is now being turned into a 'long war' scenario, as popular support for the war - especially that in Iraq - evaporates, witness the Bush gang's utter debacle in the US mid-terms and the dropping of the 'war on terror' vocabulary.

The book draws our attention to the Clinton administration's Director of Central Intelligence, James Woolsey, who envisioned the post-Cold War world as a jungle without a major dragon but filled with poisonous snakes,with taming this jungle being the main task of US forces for the forseeable future. Recall that this is well before the 9-11 attacks, whereupon a rising chorus of sabre-rattlers used that outrage to predict a conflict stretching over many years if not decades. Now that the 'war on terror' propaganda has been replaced with the vocabulary of 'long war',we are seeing the chilling fruition of that which has turned out to be more than the rhetoric of the moment.

The ORG started their 'briefings' in response to the rapid deterioration witnessed as Bush was giving his victory speech onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, while

looting ran rampant and US forces in Baghdad were already under sustained attack. Indeed,in the first of these volumes, 'Iraq:Consequences of a War', published in 2002, the ORG concurred with the anti-war movement that the likely consequence of a war would be strengthening of support for al-Qaida and an intensifying insurgency.

The present volume looks at the context for the 'long war': from the way in which the Taliban were removed from power but left essentially intact,to the growing

debacle in Iraq,the situation of the Palestinians and the sabre-rattling at Iran. The book concludes with a final chapter putting the 2005-2006 period into a

longer-term context,comparing the apparent war objectives in the two theatres with an analysis of the aims and strategy of al-Qaida,and how long all protagonists can maintain any kind of 'long war', especially as there own bases of support may

wither over time.'Into the Long War' concludes with a recommendation of little less than dismantling the current world order, developing new trade relations, sustainable enrgies and tackling climate change as the priorities which will be far more important and decisive than the (alleged) war on terror or whatever it metamorphoses into.

This concise little book is very level-headed, matter of fact and scholarly in tone, and is all the more powerful a debating weapon for it.Consider this book

compulsory reading.