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Iraq: from war to a new authoritarianism

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Toby Dodge
IISS (31 December 2012)

Iraq recovered its full sovereignty at the end of 2011, with the departure of all US military forces. The 2003 invasion was undertaken to dismantle a regime that had long threatened its own population and regional peace, as well as to establish a stable, democratic state in the heart of the Middle East.

This Adelphi looks at the legacy of that intervention and subsequent state-building efforts. It analyses the evolution of the insurgency, the descent into full-scale civil war and the implementation of the ‘surge’ as a counterinsurgency strategy. It goes on to examine US and Iraqi efforts to reconstruct the state’s military and civilian capacity.

By developing a clear understanding of the current situation in Iraq, this book seeks to answer three questions that are central to the country’s future. Will it continue to suffer high levels of violence or even slide back into a vicious civil war? Will Iraq continue on a democratic path, as exemplified by the three competitive national elections held since 2005? And does the new Iraq pose a threat to its neighbours?

  • Dr Toby Dodge is a reader in international relations in the Department of International Relations at LSE.

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‘Toby Dodge is one of the smartest Iraq analysts around. Read this book.’
Thomas E Ricks, author of Fiasco: the American military adventure in Iraq and The Gamble: General Petraeus and the untold story of the American surge in Iraq, 2006–2008.

‘A searching analysis of Iraq's tortured history since the 2003 US/UK invasion.Toby Dodge's study is a searing dissection of modern Iraqi politics which consolidates his reputation as a leading scholar on the country and the region.'
Lord Michael Williams, PhD, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, 2006–07, and UN under secretary-general, Middle East, 2007–11.

‘Toby Dodge is among our very best analysts of contemporary Iraq. His canny insights are firmly grounded in history and on-the-ground field work. In a field where the starry-eyed and the conspiracy theorists have had a field day, Dodge is careful and conscientious about his evidence, and his conclusions are both formidable and alarming.’
Professor Juan Cole, Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan and author of the 'Informed Comment' blog on Middle East Affairs.

'Dodge casts a clear and critical eye on the shaping of Iraqi politics since the US-led invasion of 2003. In this incisive study, he provides a sombre, but realistic analysis of the forces at work in the country, informed by a close and acute reading of events. Most usefully for anyone concerned about Iraq's future, he develops a highly plausible account of its trajectory under prime minister al-Maliki and the new political elites.'
Professor Charles Tripp, professor of politics, School of Oriental and African Studies and author of A History of Iraq.