Pollack, Kenneth M(ichael) 1966-

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POLLACK, Kenneth M(ichael) 1966-


Born 1966. Education: Yale University, B.A., 1988; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D., 1996.


Office—Saban Center for Middle East Policy, The Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036. E-mail—[email protected].


Middle East policy analyst. Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, DC, Iran-Iraq military analyst, 1988-95; National Security Council, director for Near East and South Asian affairs, 1995-96, director for Persian Gulf affairs, 1999-2001; Council of Foreign Relations, director for national security studies, 2001-02; Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, director of research and senior fellow, Foreign Policy Studies. National Defense University, senior research professor, 1998-99, 2001.


Saudi Military Effectiveness in the 1990s, Washington Institute for Near East Policy (Washington, DC), 1999.

Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2002.

The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor to journals, including International Security, Middle East Journal, and Foreign Affairs. Author of studies for RAND Corporation.


Kenneth M. Pollack is an expert on Middle East policy who, in his positions at the Central Intelligence Agency during the 1980s and on theNational Security Council in more recent years, has maintained his view that the United States should invade Iraq and eliminate Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. In his 2002 book The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq Pollack presents a detailed overview of the repressive regime of Hussein and marshals compelling evidence in support of his own "reluctantly arrived at" position that, as Nation contributor Ian S. Lustick explained, "only an American invasion, mounted to do the job even without help from Middle Eastern or European allies, can succeed" at eliminating the threat Hussein poses to not only the United States but Iraq's Middle East neighbors.

The Threatening Storm is the work of a man who "has spent virtually his entire professional life wrestling with the problem of Iraq," according to Washington Monthly contributor Joshua Micah Marshall. A timely volume that numbers close to 400 pages, Pollack's book presents readers with "a complete treatment of a critical question of national security policy," according to Marshall. Praising the book as "an indisputable success," Marshall went on to note that "Pollack manages to eschew the cant, stupidity, and obfuscation which are the common currency of much of the current public debate over Iraq policy and has produced one of the key books—probably the key book—for anyone trying to grapple with the Iraq question." That many were trying to grapple with that question was clear, and within months the U.S. government had followed Pollack's advice and ousted the Hussein regime as part of its ongoing war on terrorism waged in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The Threatening Storm had as its genesis an article Pollack published in the March/April 2002 issue of Foreign Affairs in which he candidly addresses the question of war with Iraq. His well-substantiated argument is made within the context of rectifying the ineffective policy decisions of past administrations, most notably that of President Bill Clinton. "Thanks to Washington's own missed opportunities and others' shameful cynicism, there are no longer any good policy options toward Iraq," Pollack maintained in his article. "After the more immediate danger posed by Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network has been dealt with.…The United States should invade Iraq, eliminate the present regime, and pave the way for a successor prepared to abide by its international commitments and live in peace with its neighbors." Options such as containment and deterrence are discussed and rejected by Pollack, who goes on to provide a detailed, fact-based analysis of invasion strategies, timing, and the process of rebuilding Iraq in the war's aftermath. Pollack's 2002 book Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991 fuels the author's arguments for war by providing what Library Journal contributor Dale Ferris explained is "a highly specialized military history" of the Middle East nations, complete with an analysis of the "factors that have consistently hindered" their efforts at warfare and a "robust assessment of their strengths and weaknesses" in past battles.

Response to The Threatening Storm was overwhelmingly positive, although Pollack's arguments were closely critiqued by several critics. In the Naval War College Review, Preston C. Rodrigue noted that, although Pollack "argues his case well, going beyond the vituperative pronouncements of the [George W. Bush] administration to link operational objectives to national strategy, … he does not spend much time on the reconstruction of the country, which is, after all, the reason for invasion in the first place." Jack F. Matlock, Jr. questioned whether Pollack's comparisons of containment and deterrence to "the appeasement of Hitler in 1938" and in his New York Times Book Review article maintained that "such misplaced comparisons smack of hysteria, and damage Pollack's credibility." However, most critics agreed that The Threatening Storm should be required reading for U.S. citizens in the first months of 2003, as war loomed in the Middle East. As Richard Bernstein stated in the New York Times, "It's fair to say that whatever your feelings about the question of Iraq, you owe it to yourself to read Mr. Pollack's book, which is both hawkish and judicious."



Christian Century, December 18, 2002, David Heim, review of The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, p. 36.

Commentary, December, 2002, Frederick W. Kagan, review of The Threatening Storm, p. 69.

Economist, November 9, 2002, review of The Threatening Storm.

Foreign Affairs, March-April, 2002, Kenneth M. Pollack, "Next Stop Baghdad?," p. 32.

Library Journal, August, 2002, Dale Farris, review of Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness, p. 118.

Nation, March 24, 2003, Ian S. Lustick, "Storm Warnings for a Supply-Side War," p. 23.

Naval War College Review, winter, 2003, Preston C. Rodrigue, review of The Threatening Storm, p. 174.

Newsweek, February 17, 2003, Seth Mnookin, "On Iraq's Cockeyed Optimist" (interview), p. 66.

New York Review of Books, December 19, 2002, Brian Urquhart, "The Prospect of War," p. 16.

New York Times, October 22, 2002, Richard Bernstein, "Making a Case for a U.S. Invasion of Iraq," p. E5.

New York Times Book Review, October 20, 2002, Jack F. Matlock, Jr., "Deterring the Undeterrable," p. 11.

Publishers Weekly, August 5, 2002, p. 68; October 7, 2002, review of The Threatening Storm, p. 23.

Times Literary Supplement, January 31, 2003, Peter Baehr, "The Critical Path," p. 3.

Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2002, Asla Aydintasbas, "Yes, Change the Regime," p. D10.

Washington Monthly, November, 2002, Joshua Micah Marshall, "The Reluctant Hawk: The Skeptical Case for Regime Change in Iraq," pp. 43-47.


Brookings Institution Web site,http://www.brook.edu/ (April 16, 2003).*

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