John M. Schuessler on the Lead-up to the Iraq War

The sequence of events that lead to the 2003 Iraq War is receiving fresh attention as a result of Jeb Bush’s presidential aspirations. Here’s one take on the issue from James Fallows: The Right and Wrong Questions about the Iraq War.

In his forthcoming book Deceit on the Road to War: Presidents, Politics, and American Democracy, John M. Schuessler, Associate Professor of Strategy at the Air War College, writes on precisely this topic:

“George W. Bush faced a relatively permissive domestic political environment on the eve of war. With the public in a vengeful mood after the 9/11 attacks and Democrats in Congress not wanting to be seen as weak on national security, Bush had a relatively free hand in 2002–2003, although not so free as to allow for total candor. Accordingly, overselling played the leading role in his securing domestic support for the Iraq War. Misrepresenting the available intelligence, Bush and members of his administration suggested repeatedly that Saddam Hussein was an undeterrable madman, in league with al Qaeda, and on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. The overall effect was to obscure the preventive nature of the war by depicting Iraq as a clear and present danger when in fact it was a weak and isolated pariah.”

In his chapter “Overselling the Iraq War,” Schuessler writes:

“Why did Bush invade Iraq? The first point to make is that the Iraqi WMD programs and links to terrorism were not as crucial to the decision to invade as their prominence in the public debate would suggest. In other words, it is simply not the case that Iraq was an intelligence-driven crisis. Rather, Bush had already decided on a confrontation with Saddam Hussein by the time the relevant intelligence was scrutinized in detail. The movement toward war began almost immediately in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, when hawks within the Bush administration, such as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, pressed for Iraq to be included in the initial phases of the war on terror. Although the decision was made to deal with Afghanistan first, attention turned to Iraq as soon as Kabul fell, with military planning for what would become Operation Iraqi Freedom beginning in late November 2001.”

Celebrating Our Cornell University Authors

As Commencement Weekend (May 22–24) fast approaches, it seems an opportune time to highlight some recent books whose authors and editors teach at Cornell University. The range of topics represented in this selection of books by Cornell professors published by the Press since 2013 (and forthcoming in Fall 2015) provides a glimpse of the broad scope of both our list and the university’s curriculum:

Mobilizing against Inequality: Unions, Immigrant Workers, and the Crisis of Capitalism, edited by Lee H. Adler (ILR School), Maite Tapia, and Lowell Turner (ILR School)

Cornell: A History, 1940–2015 by Glenn C. Altschuler (American Studies) and Isaac Kramnick (Government)

Introductory Food Chemistry by John W. Brady (Food Science)

Empire of Language: Toward a Critique of (Post)colonial Expression by Laurent Dubreuil (Romance Studies)

The American Way of Bombing: Changing Ethical and Legal Norms, from Flying Fortresses to Drones, edited by Matthew Evangelista (Government) and Henry Shue

Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China by Eli Friedman (ILR School)

An Introduction to Labor Law, Third Edition by Michael Evan Gold (ILR School)

The Great Wall of Money: Power and Politics in China’s International Monetary Relations, edited by Eric Helleiner and Jonathan Kirshner (Government)

The Fleeting Promise of Art: Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory Revisited by Peter Uwe Hohendahl (German Studies)

A Scrap of Paper: Breaking and Making International Law during the Great War by Isabel V. Hull (History)

Labor Relations in a Globalizing World by Harry C. Katz (ILR School), Thomas A. Kochan, and Alexander J. S. Colvin (ILR School)

American Power after the Financial Crisis by Jonathan Kirshner (Government)

History, Literature, Critical Theory by Dominick LaCapra (History)

Brothers in Arms: Chinese Aid to the Khmer Rouge, 1975–1979 by Andrew Mertha (Government)

Hear My Sad Story: The True Tales That Inspired “Stagolee,” “John Henry,” and Other Traditional American Folk Songs by Richard Polenberg (History)

The Law of Kinship: Anthropology, Psychoanalysis, and the Family in France by Camille Robcis (History)

War, States, and Contention: A Comparative Historical Study by Sidney Tarrow (Government)

Agricultural Product Prices, Fifth Edition by William G. Tomek (Applied Economics and Management) and Harry M. Kaiser  (Applied Economics and Management)

Recent Award Winners

The Baron’s Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution by Willard Sunderland’s is the winner of the 2015 Ohio Academy of History Book Award

Blood Ties: Religion, Violence, and the Politics of Nationhood in Ottoman Macedonia, 1878–1908 by Ipek Yosmaoğlu is shortlisted for the 2015 Runciman Award given by the Anglo-Hellenic League

Forgotten Foundations of Bretton Woods: International Development and the Making of the Postwar Order by Eric Helleiner is shortlisted for the Canadian Political Science Association Prize in International Relations

Songs of the Factory: Pop Music, Culture, and Resistance by Marek Korczynski is shortlisted for the 2015 Thinking Allowed Ethnography Award given by the British Sociological Association and the British Broadcasting Company

Kathryn S. March on the Devastation in Nepal

In the Cornell Chronicle, Kathryn S. March, whose book “If Each Comes Halfway”: Meeting Tamang Women in Nepal features a CD of traditional songs recorded nowhere else, wrote this heartrending account of the fate of the village where she and David Holmberg, author of Order in Paradox: Myth and Ritual Among Nepal’s Tamang, have done fieldwork for decades: Cornell Perspectives: My village in Nepal is gone.

Other books Cornell University Press has published on Nepal include In the Circle of the Dance: Notes of an Outsider in Nepal by Katharine Bjork Guneratne and Many Tongues, One People: The Making of Tharu Identity in Nepal by Arjun Guneratne.

Remembering M. H. Abrams

Cornell University Press joins with the rest of the Cornell community, Ithaca, and scholars of literature around the world in mourning the death of M. H. Abrams, Class of 1916 Emeritus Professor of English, at the age of 102. A 2014 recipient of the National Humanities Medal, Abrams was best known for his long career teaching at Cornell, where his students included Harold Bloom and Thomas Pynchon, and for editing the Norton Anthology of English Literature. For this last accomplishment many of us owe him a particular debt of gratitude; his efforts afforded us, even in pre-Internet days, the great luxury of keeping centuries’ worth of literature always at hand.

New York TimesM.H. Abrams, 102, Dies; Shaped Romantic Criticism and Literary ‘Bible’; Keeper of the Canon

Cornell ChronicleM.H. Abrams, beloved professor, literary scholar, dies at 102

The GuardianMH Abrams, Norton anthology founder, influential critic, dead at age 102

On the Cornell University Press Facebook page, the Press’s Editor in Chief, Peter Potter, wrote: “We at Cornell University Press are greatly saddened to hear the news of Professor Abrams’s passing. Without a doubt he is one of the most influential scholars ever to teach at Cornell. Just this summer I was speaking with a colleague from another university about the study of Romanticism, and, without skipping a beat, he singled out The Mirror and the Lamp as one of the best books still for those who want to understand the Romantics. How many scholars can say that about a book they published 60 years ago! We at the Press were fortunate to have his support and counsel. Shortly after his arrival at Cornell in 1945, he served on the Press’s editorial board, and he remained a trusted advisor thereafter. He will be sorely missed.”

Abrams’s term on the Cornell University Press editorial board stretched from 1947 to 1951. Later, he served on the advisory board for the Cornell Wordsworth. Jared Curtis, coordinating editor of both the Cornell Wordsworth and the Cornell Yeats, says of Abrams’s role in making the Cornell Wordsworth a reality:

“Mike was not only involved in the Cornell Wordsworth project from the very beginning as a colleague of general editor Stephen Parrish, but he also taught a good many of those who planned (John A. Finch), edited (James Averill, Paul Betz, Jim Butler, Jared Curtis, Beth Darlington, Kristine Dugas, Joe Kishel), and ultimately brought the series to a successful conclusion. His steady, wise, and generous counsel to all editors for the project contributed hugely to the great sense of collegiality and common cause among all those contributing to it. I can’t imagine the series achieving the standing it has in the world of Wordsworth scholarship without Mike’s inspiring presence and always helpful guidance.”

In 1981, the Press published High Romantic Argument: Essays for M. H. Abrams, edited by Lawrence Lipking, which features Abrams’s reply to essays by six distinguished contributors who explore important critical questions related to Abrams’s work and its implications. Abrams also contributed chapters to other books published by Cornell University Press, including In Search of Literary Theory and Romanticism and Contemporary Criticism.