As Britain’s colonial secretary in the 1920s, Winston Churchill made a mistake with calamitous consequences. Scholar and adviser to Tony Blair’s government, Christopher Catherwood chronicles and analyzes how Churchill created the artificial monarchy of Iraq after World War I, thereby forcing together unfriendly peoples under a single ruler. The map of the Middle East that Churchill created led to the rise of Saddam Hussein and the wars in which American troops fought in 1991 and 2003. Defying a global wave of nationalistic sentiment, and the desire of subject peoples to rule themselves, Winston Churchill put together the broken pieces of the Ottoman Empire and created a Middle Eastern powder keg. Inducing Arabs under the rule of the Ottoman Turks to rebel against their oppressors, the British and French during World War I convinced the Hashemite clan that they would rule over Syria. In fact, Britain had promised the territory to the French. To make amends, Churchill created the nation of Iraq and made the Hashemite leader, Feisel, king of a land to which he had no connections at all. Eight pages of photographs add to this fascinating history on Churchill’s decision and the terrible legacy of the Ottoman Empire’s collapse.
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