In Iraq After America, Rayburn Focuses on Why Iraq Is Too Important to Disregard

Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Iraq after America: Strongmen, Sectarians, Resistance

The Hoover Institution Press today released Iraq after America by Colonel Joel Rayburn, a contributor to the Hoover Institution’s Working Group on Islamism and the International Order.

Iraq after America examines the new state, sectarian and secular factions, and key political trends that have emerged in Iraq since 2003. Rayburn looks at some of the most significant players in the new Iraq, explaining how they have risen to prominence, what they aim to do, and what that means for the United States and others.

Iraq after America: Strongmen, Sectarians, Resistance
Iraq after America by Colonel Joel Rayburn, a contributor to the Hoover Institution’s Working Group on Islamism and the International Order

“Americans tend to consider Iraq as little more than the site of an unpopular military expedition that most would prefer to forget. But with the world’s second-largest oil reserves and a strategic location, Iraq is too important to disregard, a country whose stability is not just an academic curiosity but a critical regional and global concern,” concluded Rayburn.

More than a decade after the US-led invasion of Iraq, most studies of the conflict focus on the twin questions of whether the United States should have entered Iraq in 2003 and whether it should have exited in 2011, but few have examined the new Iraqi state and society on its own merits.  The book traces the origins of three key trends in recent Iraqi history--authoritarianism, sectarianism, and Islamist resistance--to explain the political and social forces that produced them, particularly during the intense civil war between 2003 and 2009, but also beyond America’s departure in 2011.

Iraq after America provides the best description and the most incisive analysis I have seen of the political situation that has emerged in Iraq since 2003.  Indeed, as both a historian and practitioner, Rayburn is admirably equipped for the task.  With this book, he earns a position among the most perceptive observers of modern-day Iraq,” said General David Petraeus.

Rayburn notes that the authoritarianism, sectarianism, and Islamist resistance that dominate Iraq’s post-US political order have created a toxic political and social brew, preventing Iraq’s political elite from resolving the fundamental roots of conflict that have wracked that country since 2003 and before. Rayburn concludes by examining aspects of the US legacy in Iraq, analyzing what it means for the United States and others that, after more than a decade of conflict, Iraq’s communities—and its political class in particular—have not yet found a way to live together in peace.

Colonel Joel Rayburn, a contributor to the Hoover Institution’s Working Group on Islamism and the International Order, is a US Army officer with more than twenty years of experience in intelligence and political-military affairs, including multiple combat tours in the Middle East and South Asia.  He specializes in historical and strategic analyses of the modern Middle East. 

About the Hoover Institution:  The Hoover Institution, Stanford University, is a public policy research center devoted to the advanced study of economics, politics, history, and political economy—both domestic and foreign—as well as international affairs. With its eminent scholars and world-renowned library and archives, the Hoover Institution seeks to improve the human condition by advancing ideas that promote economic opportunity and prosperity and secure and safeguard peace for America and all mankind.

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