Lessons of the Iraqi De-Ba'athification Program

Lessons of the Iraqi De-Ba'athification Program for Iraq's Future and the Arab Revolutions by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill, U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute.

This monograph considers both the future of Iraq and the differences and similarities between events in Iraq and the Arab Spring states. The author analyzes the nature of Iraqi de-Ba’athification and carefully evaluates the rationales and results of actions taken by both Americans and Iraqis involved in the process. While there are many differences between the formation of Iraq’s post-Saddam Hussein government and the current efforts of some Arab Spring governing bodies to restructure their political institutions, it is possible to identify parallels between Iraq and Arab Spring countries. As in Iraq, new Arab Spring governments will have to apportion power, build or reform key institutions, establish political legitimacy for those institutions, and accommodate the enhanced expectations of their publics in a post-revolutionary environment. A great deal can go wrong in these circumstances, and any lessons that can be gleaned from earlier conflicts will be of considerable value to those nations facing these problems, as well as their regional and extra-regional allies seeking to help them. Moreover, officers and senior noncommissioned officers of the U.S. Army must realize that they may often have unique opportunities and unique credibility to offer advice on the lessons of Iraq to their counterparts in some of the Arab Spring nations.

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