Iraq: What Now?

moderator: Stephen Van Evera, Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
author: Juan Cole, University of Michigan
author: Ivo Daalder, Brookings Institution
published: May 16, 2011,   recorded: December 2003,   views: 2071

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The gloves come off in this biting review of Bush Administration policy in “post-war Iraq.” Juan Cole believes the administration acted on a fundamental misunderstanding, imagining that by toppling the Hussein regime, all Iraqis “would be happy.” After the U.S. destroyed Hussein’s security apparatus, preexisting constituencies -- no friends to America -- came to the fore. Now, in villages throughout Iraq, Shiites devoted to a clerical Islamic state violently demand the immediate departure of U.S. troops. Ultimately, Cole says, “the U.S. is going to have to find ways of dealing with the forces it’s unleashed.”

Ivo Daalder pries open what he describes as a deeply divided administration, led by a president whose primary concern is reelection. On the one hand we find the “democratic imperialists,” who believe the only way America can be made secure is if the rest of the world is remade in our image. On the other hand, the “assertive nationalists,” who believe that “once you get rid of bad people you will have achieved the goal of making America secure.” While these two sides agreed to eliminate Saddam Hussein, they cannot agree on what comes next-- with disturbing consequences for Iraq and the U.S.

NOTE: This event was taped nine days before the capture of Saddam Hussein.

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