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Meeting Saddam’s Men

Looking for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction

Authors: Ashton Robinson
(7 customer reviews)
Saddam, Iraq War
C Format

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This book is Ashton Robinson’s unique eye-witness account of the ISG’s operations in Iraq, based at Camp Slayer, in one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces.  The group’s task was to search for weapons of mass destruction or to account for them if they did not exist.  But the ISG discovered so much more.

The ISG unintentionally gained a fascinating insight into Saddam’s dictatorship through interviews with most of ‘the Quartet’, Saddam’s senior committee of trusted lieutenants, and uncovered a web of international corruption surrounding Iraq’s erosion of UN sanctions.

The author interweaves his daily experiences in Iraq with interviews with Saddam’s men and historical analysis of pre- and post-war Iraq. He explores Australia’s intelligence relationships with allies and also covers the human rights issues in the coalition occupation of Iraq, as well as the development of the insurgency in Iraq and the rise of ISIL.

This story is not just about the Iraq War; it’s a rare look into Australia’s allied intelligence relations, and the international politics, intrigue and corruption surrounding the war.

Ashton Robinson

Ashton Robinson

Ashton Robinson began his career in the then Department of Foreign Affairs. Most of his experience in government was with the Australian Department of Defence, the Iraq Survey Group in Baghdad and the Office of National Assessments (ONA) – part of the Australian Prime Minister’s portfolio – where he dealt with long-term strategic matters, including terrorism, transnational crime and irregular migration.

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7 reviews for Meeting Saddam’s Men

  1. Ashton Robinson’s book, ‘Meeting Saddam’s Men: looking for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction’, has an additional value in helping us understand how the United States’ decision to invade Iraq in 2003 contributed to the dysfunction of the current international order.

    He also gives us a comprehensive account of how Iraq had reached a point where its WMD programs were of such concern to the rest of the world, a persuasive description of how the ISG operated and reflections on the nature of contemporary warfare.

    One of the valuable features of the book is the astute and humane way in which Robinson describes not just the allied figures trying to discover the truth, but the roles and approaches of Saddam Hussein’s men, especially the four senior leaders of the Iraqi weapons program whom he interviewed in detention. These men, including Tariq Aziz, Taha Yasir Ramadan and ‘Chemical Ali’, were all servants of an appalling regime and culpable in their own ways, but they nevertheless emerge from Robinson’s account as complete human beings.

    But in the absence of such a review, there are plenty of lessons for Australian policymakers to take from Robinson’s book.

    This is an important work of history, analysis and reflection, imbued with deep moral purpose. Ashton Robinson has done all of us, including the next generation of Australia’s policy practitioners and intelligence analysts, a great service.

  2. Many might ask – What is Australia doing in the Middle East and why is Australian treasure and blood being expended there? This new book by a highly-credentialled former Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) analyst who was an Australian member of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) adds considerably to answering this complex question. – Ian George

  3. The book contains a relevant and perceptive account of the operation of this multi-national US dominated group during Ashton’s six-month deployment to Baghdad in 2004, and in doing so, adds contemporary academic weight to understanding the Australia – Middle East relationship.

  4. Robinson gives us an easily read background of the cultural and religious obligations of the regional political leaders together with personal ambitions and raw brutality of the leading players. Relationships between neighbours and the collective regional hostility toward Israel and the US is the canvas upon which the narrative is built.

  5. The insightful and up to date analysis of the international status of the Gulf States is an informed contribution to Western understanding of the regional tensions on display then and now.

  6. This journey into the intelligence world will no doubt satisfy the inquisitive reader aspiring to grasp the complexities of politics in the Middle East.

  7. The book contains comprehensive end notes, a complete list of abbreviations (an essential in this age of the extensive use of acronyms), descriptions of the many Iraqi personalities in the text, a glossary of chemical warfare agents, a bibliography and a complete index. The dozen colour photographs (seemingly from the authors camera) help the reader to appreciate the physical difficulties the ISG had in conducting their investigations and reporting.

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