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Inventing Iraq


Auteur : Toby Dodge
Éditeur : Columbia University Press Date & Lieu : 2003, New York
Préface : Pages : 280
Traduction : ISBN : 0-231-13166-6
Langue : AnglaisFormat : 155x230 mm
Thème : Histoire

Présentation
Table des Matières Introduction Identité PDF
Inventing Iraq

Inventing Iraq: The Failure of Nation Building and a History Denied

In Iraq today, the United States is presiding over a country about which it has a limited understanding. The United States is attempting to rebuild Iraqi state institutions and reform their interaction with society. Post–Cold War military interventions into failed or rogue states with the overt aim of reforming their political systems are becoming increasingly common but, to date, these interventions have been uniformly unsuccessful. It is not surprising therefore, that attention is increasingly being focused on Britain’s own inadequate attempts to build a modern democratic state in Iraq during the eighteen-year period between 1914 and 1932.

At the beginning of a very hot Iraqi summer I interviewed a senior British diplomat in the garden of what had been the British High Commission on the banks of the Tigris River in Baghdad. He was optimistic, even bullish. The lawlessness that had been the focus of much media coverage over the previous month was, he said, overstated. Order would soon return to the capital’s streets and the country beyond. Criticism, both Iraqi and international, of the nascent representative structures being fostered by the occupying powers was inaccurate. They were not, as detractors argued, dominated by an irrelevant minority of carpetbaggers, but were instead the foundations of a democratic process that would slowly evolve into a vibrant and sustainable polyarchy—a stable coordinated rule of multiple institutions representing diverse social forces and interests...


Preface: Iraq and the Ordering of Postcolonial World
from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush


In Iraq today, the United States is presiding over a country about which it has a limited understanding. The United States is attempting to rebuild Iraqi state institutions and reform their interaction with society. Post–Cold War military interventions into failed or rogue states with the overt aim of reforming their political systems are becoming increasingly common but, to date, these interventions have been uniformly unsuccessful. It is not surprising therefore, that attention is increasingly being focused on Britain’s own inadequate attempts to build a modern democratic state in Iraq during the eighteen-year period between 1914 and 1932.

At the beginning of a very hot Iraqi summer I interviewed a senior British diplomat in the garden of what had been the British High Commission on the banks of the Tigris River in Baghdad. He was optimistic, even bullish. The lawlessness that had been the focus of much media coverage over the previous month was, he said, overstated. Order would soon return to the capital’s streets and the country beyond. Criticism, both Iraqi and international, of the nascent representative structures being fostered by the occupying powers was inaccurate. They were not, as detractors argued, dominated by an irrelevant minority of carpetbaggers, but were instead the foundations of a democratic process that would slowly evolve into a vibrant and sustainable polyarchy—a stable coordinated rule of multiple institutions representing diverse social forces and interests.

The interview took place at the end of May 2003 as British and American forces, having unseated Saddam Hussein, struggled to impose order on Iraq and wondered how to reform its political structures. However, the conversation could well have taken place at the end of May 1920. Instead of Christopher Segar, Head of the British Office in Baghdad, answering the questions, it would, in 1920, have been Arnold Wilson, the acting Civil Commissioner, responsible for building a state in Iraq in the aftermath of the First World War. Wilson was a confident and bullish colonial official who was wrestling with a serious dilemma. How, under intense international scrutiny, could he control a well-armed society that had become increasingly resentful about the occupation of their country? Wilson himself never found satisfactory answers to this question. On July 2, 1920, a revolt, or thawra, broke out along the lower Euphrates. Fueled by a population resentful at the heavy-handed approach of the occupying forces, the rebellion quickly spread across the south and center of the country. Faced with as many as 131,000 armed opponents, the British army did not regain full control until six months later in February 1921. The cost in lives and money of the revolt made the continued occupation of Iraq very unpopular with British public opinion. It also cost Wilson his job. From 1921 onward the British continually strove to cut the costs of their presence in Iraq. Ultimately the decision was made to extricate themselves from the country as quickly as possible. The result was a failure to build a liberal or even a stable state in Iraq....




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