Democracy vs. Democratization (A Public Conciliation)

Yesterday, in class, we tackled one of the biggest questions of recent U.S. history. Why did the U.S. decide to invade Iraq in 2003? This question has been debated in all corners of the academic, public, and government worlds for almost a decade with many answers proposed. Some are unlikely, such as oil and corporate greed, some are plausible, such as security concerns and intelligence failures, and some are downright crazy, such as revenge for events in the 1990s and secret Israeli conspiracies. This subject is difficult for me, a veteran of the invasion, to approach because it is still difficult to separate my emotions from reason. Although I study Iraq extensively, both personally and academically, I purposely shy away from the above question. Continue reading

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A Note for Veteran’s Day 2012

As the dust settles from another bitterly divisive presidential election, tomorrow Americans will come together in unity and remembrance. Each year, on November 11, we set aside partisan differences and join in parades, service projects, and displays of gratitude in support of veterans. However, over a decade of war has widened the gap between the majority of Americans and the small minority who swear to defend and protect them from danger. Instead of sharing the burden of war, we have become accustomed to yellow ribbons, American flag bumper stickers, and “I Support the Troops” signs. In reality, the community of America’s veterans, especially those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, face crippling unemployment, an epidemic of suicide, and heart-breaking numbers of homeless. Continue reading

Kurdistan- The Next Oil State?

Oil platform in Iraqi Kurdistan. (www.telegraph.co.uk)

Oil has played a significant role in creating and sustaining states in the Middle East. Since the Qajar Shah of Iran signed the first oil deal with William D’Arcy in 1901, oil money has been used to centralize power, fund an era of modernity, and build elaborate welfare states across the Middle East. Could Iraqi Kurdistan be the next state to buy its independence with oil? Unfortunately, the cards still seem to be stacked against Kurdish independence. Continue reading