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JSIS 498A Advanced Readings: Resat Kasaba – U.S. War in Iraq

October 8, 2023

Resat Kasaba


March 19, 2023 marks the twentieth anniversary of the start of the U.S. War in Iraq. Even though the U.S. combat troops left Iraq in 2011, there are still about 2,500 US military personnel in the country. Iraq is trying to rebuild its infrastructure and the institutions that were destroyed during the war. The nation is deeply divided, the country is on the brink of anarchy, its government is corrupt, regional powers and local insurgencies are trying to outdo each other and use Iraq to advance their own interests.  Today, there is a general agreement among scholars and politicians that the Iraq War constitutes one of the worst blunders of U.S. foreign policy.

Since the early days of the war, politicians, journalists, and scholars have been debating how the U.S. decided to attack Iraq and why the policy makers failed to predict the disastrous consequences that followed. In this course we will follow some of these discussions by reading selections from several books.  We will learn how the decision to go to war was made by the executive branch of the U.S. government, how it was carried out by the military and various other organs of the government, and what role the media and the U.S. Congress played in this process. We will review the writings of some of the early opponents of the war and discuss why their views were ignored. We will also read descriptions of  the war’s effects on Iraq, Iraqi people, and on the US soldiers who fought there.