Some Initial Thoughts on the Chilcot Report

published July 8, 2016 - 11:45am

On July 6, an independent inquiry into British involvement in Iraq from the summer of 2001 to July 2009 released its report. Chaired by Sir John Chilcot, a veteran Whitehall mandarin, the inquiry was set up in 2009 by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The delay in publication of the report was partly a result of the sheer volume of material—nearly 150,000 documents and countless interviews, including several with Tony Blair, prime minister at the time of the 2003 invasion—that the panel examined. And it was partly a result of efforts that crossed party lines to wiggle out of publication.

The Next Round of an Unwinnable War Beckons

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers | published September 17, 2014

Once again, a U.S. president vows to eliminate an extremist militia in the Middle East to make the region, and Americans, safe.

And that means it’s time again for a reality check. Having failed in its bid to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the United States is still trying to dismantle both organizations. Over the course of 13 years of war, that mission has spread to Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Mali, and West Africa, as militant groups on two continents have adopted the al-Qaeda brand.

Not Much Better Than Bush

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers | published July 23, 2014

President Barack Obama got it right when he declared: "There's no military solution inside of Iraq, certainly not one that is led by the United States."

But his Iraq track record doesn’t mark much of an improvement over the mess his predecessor made.

Petraeus’ Real Failure

by Laleh Khalili | published June 12, 2014 - 11:38am

On the sidelines of the catastrophic failure of the Iraqi army to hold back the militias of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (or ISIS, as it is usually known), and the fall of Mosul to that group, a debate is taking place in the United States about whether this turn of events is yet another black mark in the massive ledger of retired Gen. David Petraeus. As Anne Barnard of the New York Times tweeted, “Remember the ‘Mosul miracle’ under Petraeus?”

Modernizing Memorial Day

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers | published May 28, 2014

Whoever made the decision to open the National September 11 Memorial Museum just a few days before Memorial Day was both bold and intuitive. The theme of remembrance unites both events, but the 9/11 memorial is a departure because it is dedicated to those so often forgotten in the recollection of national sacrifice—civilians.

Death and Taxes

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers | published April 15, 2014 - 12:25pm

Last year 27 cents of every income tax dollar in the United States went to the military. Even so, that proportion has not generated enough revenue to pay for the military’s operations over the last 13 years, which, in a historic departure, have been funded largely by borrowing.

Iraqi Christians: A Primer

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers
published in MER267

Media coverage in the West can overstate the degree to which Christians are “disappearing” from the Middle East. But one place where such characterizations have merit is Iraq. In the years since the 2003 invasion led by the United States, at least half of Iraq’s Christians have fled the country to escape the violence of war, occupation and insurgency, as well as a campaign of intimidation, forced expulsion and sectarian cleansing carried out by militias and criminal gangs. Numerous others have been internally displaced.

Rewiring a State

The Techno-Politics of Electricity in the CPA's Iraq

by Nida Alahmad
published in MER266

The Coalition Provisional Authority, the US-British body that briefly ruled in Baghdad from May 2003 to June 2004, had grand ambitions for Iraq. The idea was to transform the country completely from what was basically a command economy (notwithstanding liberalization measures in the 1990s) into an open market and from a dictatorship into a liberal democracy. The radical nature of these plans and orders, coupled with the CPA’s swift dissolution, has led many to dismiss the body as a hasty and ill-conceived imperial experiment. Indeed it was -- and a destructive one as well. But the CPA period still deserves serious examination. It was the only time when the US, in its capacity as occupier, was in charge of Iraq administratively and legally.

Iraq: What Remains

by Joost Hiltermann
published in MER266

American soldiers are gone from Iraq, along with much of Washington’s influence. The Obama administration, which came to office opposed to the entire enterprise but then tried, and failed, to extend the troop presence, professes still to play a leading part in what goes on. In reality, it looks more like a bemused bystander who hopes that, somehow, things will not abruptly fall to pieces.

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER266

“The Iraq war is largely about oil,” wrote Alan Greenspan in his memoir The Age of Turbulence (2007). “I’m saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows.” It may indeed be self-evident that the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, as the former Federal Reserve chairman says, because of oil. But what does this proposition mean? The answer is not so obvious.