A Year After Tahrir

by Chris Toensing | published January 30, 2012

Of "Instructors" and Interests in Iraq

by Reidar Visser | published August 22, 2011

The Obama administration repeatedly declares that it is “on track” to withdraw all US military forces from Iraq by the end of 2011, in keeping with candidate Barack Obama’s signature promise to “end the war in Iraq.” But, even as the White House avows this intention, policymakers in Washington repeatedly express their hope that the Iraqi government will ask some US troops, perhaps 10,000 or more, to stay past December. In an ideal world, US strategists would like the Iraqis to decide to extend the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed in late 2008, which provides legal cover for the US military presence in post-invasion Iraq. A series of summertime developments in Iraq have now made it clear that no such straightforward extension is forthcoming.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

"Free People Will Set the Course of History"

Intellectuals, Democracy and American Empire

by Robert Blecher | published March 2003

As the Bush administration struggled to find a justification for launching an attack on Iraq, churning out sketchy intelligence reports about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and links with al-Qaeda, Washington wordsmiths produced their own grist for the war mill: the prospect of a democratic pax americana in the Middle East. The importance of the pundits’ contribution to the war machine should not be underestimated. As the task of swaying public opinion grew more difficult, rhetoric around freedom and democracy has become ever more central. In the weeks after September 11, 2001, George W. Bush did not talk of remaking the Middle East.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

The Peace Movement Plans for the Future

by Mark LeVine | published July 2003

As the Bush administration struggles with occupying Iraq, the anti-war movement is in the midst of intense self-evaluation. For all of the movement’s success in raising doubts about and opposition to the March 2003 invasion, as of July George W. Bush’s war is still popular among Americans. The war caused thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths, and Iraqis may be dying for years to come due to widespread use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions. While some local Kurdish and Shi‘i leaders have cautiously decided to work with the occupation regime, the inability of US forces to restore law, order or public services, along with the imperial style of US viceroy L. Paul Bremer, have led to increasing opposition to the occupation among ordinary Iraqis. Yet sentiment among Americans, amidst concerns over post-war casualties and the missing weapons of mass destruction, still supports (albeit cautiously) the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Torture and the Future

by Lisa Hajjar | published May 2004

There is a popular belief that Western history constitutes a progressive move from more to less torture. Iron maidens and racks are now museum exhibits, crucifixions are sectarian iconography and scientific experimentation on twins is History Channel infotainment. This narrative of progress deftly blends ideas about “time,” “place” and “culture.” In the popular imagination, “civilized societies” (a.k.a. “us”) do not rely on torture, whereas those societies where torture is still common remain “uncivilized,” torture being both a proof and a problem of their enduring “backwardness.”

Washington's Physics Problem in Iraq

by Chris Toensing | published July 12, 2011

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, says its chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, has a “physics problem.”

According to a 2008 accord between the United States and Iraq, the US military is to be evacuated from Mesopotamia -- down to the last tank mechanic and dishwasher -- by the close of the calendar year. Lately, there have been hints that Iraq might want a “residual force” of as many as 12,000 troops to stay, but nothing firm.

Hence Mullen’s dilemma: How does the Pentagon plan for withdrawing its personnel and equipment when it doesn’t know for sure how many soldiers will be leaving? There are only so many C-130s to load and so much time in which to load them.

Rosen, Aftermath

by Chris Toensing
published in MER257

Nir Rosen, Aftermath (Nation Books, 2010).

In addition to numberless tales of human misery, the post-September 11 US wars in the greater Middle East have produced a veritable library of war reporter’s books. Most of them are formulaic and eminently forgettable, but a few are valuable chronicles that considerably improve the state of knowledge about the traumatic ruptures that war has wrought in the societies caught in the crossfire. Nir Rosen’s Aftermath falls in the latter category.

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Visser, A Responsible End?

by Chris Toensing
published in MER257

Reidar Visser, A Responsible End? The United States and the Iraqi Transition, 2005-2010 (Just World Books, 2010).

There are few keener students of contemporary Iraqi affairs than Reidar Visser. Since the spring of 2006, when he released a lengthy paper on the politics of Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Visser has enjoyed growing respect in Western academic and journalistic circles as a close observer of post-invasion Iraq with a talent for debunking the mainstream narrative.

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Enloe, Nimo's War, Emma's War

by Lauren Geiser
published in MER256

Cynthia Enloe, Nimo’s War, Emma’s War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010).

War is usually presented as all about hard power and weaponry. In school, students are taught about generals, battlefields, advances in armaments and innovations in military strategy. The historical figures associated with wars whose pictures are featured in textbooks are overwhelmingly male. Women’s experiences are considered to be of secondary importance in understanding armed conflict.

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Poetic Injustice

by Ian Urbina | published November 8, 2002

In its war against terrorism, the United States has trumpeted its intentions to spread democracy in a region where there is little. Many around the globe remain skeptical about whether toppling leaders is an effective method for cultivating a respect for the rule of law and a liberalization of the political process. However, there is one place where, with minimal diplomatic pressure, the United States could radically bolster prospects for democracy. To the scandal of its own people as well as the international community, longtime US ally Turkey rigged its November elections. But the real scandal is that the United States had nothing to say about it.