11.948 | Spring 2005 | Graduate

The Politics of Reconstructing Iraq

Lecture Notes

ses # Topics lecture notes
L1 Introduction Introduction to the Politics of Reconstructing Iraq

Introduction to the United States agenda for the reconstruction of Iraq and the recent history of post-conflict reconstruction. Although the U.S. Congress has allocated $18.4 billion towards reconstruction, only $2.4 billion has been spent as of January 2005, over a year and a half after the United States declared the end of the war. The reconstruction of Iraq can be placed in a historical context as the third generation of what we refer to as “post-conflict” countries. The first generation is exemplified by reconstruction efforts emerging after World War II, particularly the rebuilding of Europe under the Marshall Plan and Japan. The second generation of post-conflict countries are those emerging from the Cold War, such as Bosnia. The third generation of post-conflict are those post 9/11, so far Afghanistan and Iraq.

L2 Planning, Politics and the Idea of Post-Conflict Reconstruction (PDF)

Planning, Politics and the Idea of Post-Conflict Reconstruction

Conflict can be categorized in different ways including territorial conflict, ethnic or sectarian conflict, political and ideological conflict and intensive external intervention. Poorer countries are more vulnerable to conflict: 15 out of the 20 poorest countries in the world have had a major conflict in the past 15 years. The language of reconstruction has shifted from “post-war reconstruction” to “post-conflict reconstruction” (PCR), which has become a subspecialty of the development agenda between humanitarian relief and long-term development (e.g. the World Bank now has a post-conflict unit), and development is now seen as a cure for conflict. Somewhat ironically, the World Bank was involved in the rebuilding of Iraq as early as the 1950s. Today, post-conflict reconstruction in Iraq is highly politicized, and it is mainly controlled by the two perspectives of the U.S. Army and the U.S. foreign ministry, though Iraqis such as the Ayatallah al-Sistani have also influenced the path of the reconstruction effort.


U.S. Planning and Realities of Post-war Iraq

Lawrence Vale: Professor/Head, Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Richard Samuels - Professor, Director of the Center for International Studies at MIT

David J. Nash: Former Director of Iraq Project and Contracting Office; Baghdad

Harvey Sapolsky: Professor and Director of the MIT Security Studies Program

Charles N. Patterson: Consultant and founder of Global  Communications

(MP4 - 248 MB)
L3 International Experience: Marshall Plan, the Reconstruction of Japan, and Bosnia and Herzegovina (PDF)

Stakeholders and Strategies in Historical Context

There are many stakeholders in a major national reconstruction process, the key to which must be civil society. Foreign intervention has characterized recent post-conflict reconstruction particularly with the U.S. as a major actor. The U.S. has helped engineer many reconstruction efforts, particularly since the mid-1950s, towards the goal of instilling a global democratic forum. Towards a compatible end, the World Bank has outlined four pillars of reconstruction: the security pillar, the governance and participation pillar, the social and economic well-being pillar and the justice and reconciliation pillar. What is needed is to align these pillars with a coordinated international response to mediate the many different agendas of the stakeholders. Robert Orr outlines ten principles for such a coordinated international response in the reading for this week.

L4 The U.S. Post-September 11 Reconstruction Agenda (PDF)

Stakeholders and Strategies in Historical Context cont. 


Politics and Society in Iraq in the 20th Century

Sami Zubaida: Professor of Politics and Sociology, Birkbeck University of London

(MP4 - 173 MB)
L5 Social and Political Background for Reconstruction: Politics and Society in Iraq in the 20-21st Century (PDF)

Iraq Historical and Political Context

This lecture provides a brief overview of the political history of Iraq including geographical and economic components. It traces politics from Babylonia, Assyria, through the Caliphates and Ottoman Empire to the colonial mandate and finally the more recent wars (Iran-Iraq War, Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and U.S.-British invasion of Iraq). It explores the history of factionalism and relationships between sectarian groups and the spatial demographic distribution. Finally, it looks at the most recent political history including the political parties from the 2004 election. Currently a disjuncture exists between reconstruction planning and cohesive national planning that incorporates economic, social and environmental goals. In the 1950s the World Bank planned Iraq’s economy to be based on agricultural production, but what Iraq needs is a vision that first meets basic needs and then surpasses this initial provision.


Comparative Insights: Marshall Plan, Japan, and Iraq

John Dower: Professor of Japanese history at MIT

Charles S. Maier: Professor of History at Harvard University

(MP4 - 267 MB)
L6 Post-war Planning: Visioning ‘A New Iraq’ and ‘A New Middle East’ About Baghdad Movie Viewing

The movie is a 2003 film documentary by exiled Iraqi Sinan Antoon featuring interviews with Iraqis regarding their interpretations of recent events and the current circumstances of occupation.

L7 The U.S. Reconstruction Agenda and Projects in Iraq (PDF)

Foreign Involvement, Funding and Legalities

Foreign money for Iraqi reconstruction has been forthcoming with $55 billion of the $50 - 100 billion estimated in the World Bank needs assessment provided by September 2004. Of this $55 billion, about $24 billion has been provided by the U.S., $28 designated from Iraqi coffers and $2.8 billion from other donors. However, the U.S. money is wrestled between the agenda of the Department of State (Iraqi Reconstruction Management Office) and the Department of Defense (Project Coordinating Office) and to a lesser degree, the USAID. The U.S. funds alone are divided between three distinct funds, the NRRF, the Iraqi Freedom Fund and IRRF (the most substantial at $18.4 billion). Every couple of months, the PCO presents to the U.S. Congress. By April 2004, only $2 billion of their $18.4 billion has been dispersed. OF the $18.4 billion 27% is allocated for security, 23% for electricity, 4% for democracy, and 2% for education and governance. Most highlighted projects have been highly visible physical infrastructure measured by construction starts, barrels of oil pumped, airlines and cell phone service. The Iraqi coffers are largely controlled by the U.S. as well as the remnants of the UN Oil for Food program. Other international donors at conferences in Madrid and Tokyo have pooled their money into both a World Bank managed fund and a UNDG managed fund.


Constructing a New Liberal Economy in Iraq

In Addition to an Example From Afghanistan

Foreign Involvement, Funding and Legalities cont.

Reconstructing ‘a New Liberal Iraq’

Robert Looney: Professor of National Security Affairs, Naval Postgraduate School

Kenneth Pollack: Director of Research, Saban Center for Middle East Policy

(MP4 - 202 MB)
L9 Political Reconstruction: Building a New Democracy Professor Abdel al-Wahab

Professor Abdel al-Wahab visiting from Baghdad University’s Institute of Urban and Regional Planning lamented the lack of student interest in environmental planning in Iraq. He illustrated the effects of three revolutions in Iraq between 1958 and 1968 as well as the American, British and Dutch control of the Iraqi national oil industry. The Iran-Iraq War ruined the Iraqi economy and society and the 14 international sanctions placed on Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait further eroded basic civil society. During this time, Prof. Al-Wahab said that not a single house, school or hospital was built, though higher education survived the blockade. Although Iraq is producing 2.3 million barrels of oil a day accounting for a $150 million / day export, 81% of Iraqi economy is in the service sector. A major need in Iraq is housing as real estate value is rising sharply especially in centers of religious pilgrimage/ tourism such as around the Shiite shrines in Karbala, Najaf and parts of Baghdad.


Consolidating Iraqi Democracy: the Institutional Context

Noah Feldman: Professor, New York University School of Law

Kanan Makiya

(MP4 - 233 MB)
L10 The Role of International Organization in Post-Conflict Reconstructing Student Presentations
L11 The Discourse of Iraqis and Arabs on the Reconstruction of a New Iraq Political Cartoons and Reflection by Noam Chomsky

Final presentation by Professor Yosef Jabareen of Arab political cartoons followed by reflections by Professor Noam Chomsky on the Iraqi occupation and the hegemonizing agenda of the U.S. in the Middle East.


The Arab Discourse on Iraq and the International Role

Richard McCall: Director of the Communities in Transition Creative Associates International

Hafez Mirazi: Washington Bureau Chief for Al-Jazeera Television

(MP4 - 173 MB)
L12 Conclusions and Critiques: Planning and Reconstruction; Vision and Realities; Stability and Resistance in Iraq  

Reconstructing ‘a New Middle East’

Stephen Van Evera: Professor of Political Science at MIT

Naseer Aruri: Chancellor Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth

Balakrishnan Rajagopal: Professor, Director of MIT Program on Human Rights and Justice

(MP4 - 108 MB)
L13 Criticism  
L14 Representations: The Idea of Post-Conflict Reconstruction  

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2005