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Iraq in a Nutshell


In March, 2003, the United States declared war on Iraq and successfully dismantled the government of one of the longest reigning dictators in the Middle East, Saddam Hussein.  Today the U.S. is working to help rebuild the nation amid a sea of controversy surrounding the absence of weapons of mass destruction, local uprisings and Shiite relations with Iran.

In her presentation, Amanda Roraback analyzes U.S. complications in post-war Iraq by reviewing the country’s history, examining Iraq’s political, economic and cultural background and assessing East-West relations.


  • Why did the U.S. go to war in Iraq?:  The official reason: to prevent Iraq from developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
  • Why didn't the U.S. have international support?
  • Who are the insurgents?
  • Who are the Shi'as, Sunnis and Kurds? Why were the Sunnis in power?
  • The role of Islam then and now
  • The politics of oil
  • Iran's involvement in Iraq. Is Iran supporting the insurgents?  What does Iran have to gain with the fall of Saddam Hussein? Should the U.S. be concerned? Will Iran be next?
  • Possible consequences of a civil war?:  After World War I, Iraq was formed from the Ottoman Vilayets of Basra (mostly Shi'a), Baghdad (mostly Sunni), and Mosul (mostly Kurdish).
  • Lessons from the Gulf War:  Why didn't George H. Bush (Bush Sr.) arrest Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War in 1991? Why didn't the U.S. support post-Gulf War rebellions?
  • Why the conflict has continued?

Politics? Oil? Power? Why did the United States go to war in the Middle East? Why has the conflict continued? Why didn't George H. Bush get rid of Saddam Hussein in 1991? Who are the insurgents? What role does Iran play? What if there is a civil war in Iraq? Will Iran be next?

Other Talks:

Islam in a Nutshell