Academic journal article Military Review

The Struggle for Iraq's Future: How Corruption, Incompetence, and Sectarianism Have Undermined Democracy

Academic journal article Military Review

The Struggle for Iraq's Future: How Corruption, Incompetence, and Sectarianism Have Undermined Democracy

Article excerpt

THE STRUGGLE FOR IRAQ'S FUTURE: How Corruption, Incompetence, and Sectarianism Have Undermined Democracy

Zaid Al-Ali, Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 2014, 295 pages, $35.00

Was the U.S. intervention in and occupation of Iraq from 2003-2011 a success? Was the collapse of the Iraqi Army in the face of the advance of the Islamic State in 2014 the fault of the U.S. occupation? Many Americans may be asking themselves the same questions as they watch news coverage of Iraq's recent difficulties. Zaid Al-Ali provides sobering and depressing insight into the answers to these two questions. The U.S. intervention did fail to help Iraq become a stable state and, in fact, encouraged the corruption that followed. Certainly, Al-Ali did not intend to discuss the advance of the Islamic State as his book was published months before their territorial gains in Iraq. However, his book still provides material that explains the weakness in the post-U.S.-occupied Iraq that would lead to the security collapse mentioned above.

Zaid Al-Ali is from an Iraqi family, though he lived outside of Iraq for the majority of his early life. He became a lawyer, returned to Iraq after the U.S. invasion, and worked as a legal advisor to the United Nations in Iraq from 2005-2010. He has family and numerous contacts in Iraq, and much of the book is written based on his own experience and personal interviews. Al-Ali provides value to the reader through his understanding of Iraq, the Arabic language, and the regional culture and issues.

He states in his introduction that "the purpose of this book is to explain how [Iraq's deplorable] situation has come about," and he does an excellent job of doing just that. He explains in eight chapters what created the Iraq of 2014--a failing state with an unresponsive central government and with no apparent ability or desire to meet the basic needs of its citizens. …

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