February 26, 2015

Col. Joel Rayburn - Iraq After America: Strongmen, Sectarians, Resistance

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Title: Iraq After America: Strongmen, Sectarians, Resistance. Source: New America. Date Published: September 24, 2014. Description: 
More than a decade after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, most studies of the conflict focus on the twin questions of whether the United States should have entered the country in 2003 and whether it should have exited in 2011, but few have examined the new Iraqi state and society on its own merits. This is especially disconcerting in light of the recent crisis with the Islamic State.

In his book, Iraq After America: Strongmen, Sectarians, Resistance, U.S. Army Col. Joel Rayburn notes that the authoritarianism, sectarianism, and Islamist resistance that dominate Iraq’s post-U.S. 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 before and since 2003. Rayburn also examines key aspects of the U.S. 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.
"What we've seen since 2003, I think, is a hardening of Iraq's sectarian and ethnic fractures into a rigid political order. So that Sunni-Shia and Arab-Kurd rivalries dominate every political question, and they enable ethno-sectarian extremist groups and terror networks to thrive inside the society. I think this process began when mainly ex-patriot parties returned to Iraq in 2003 without a mass following, but with sectarian agendas in mind. And I think they set out consciously to polarize Iraqi society along sectarian lines in order to create constituencies for themselves, and things spiralled downward from there." - Col. Joel Rayburn.