T Nation

Has Iraq Been a Success?


This seems like as good a place as any to kick of research for my new dissertation: I want to do a quick survey regarding Iraq. I won't mention any screen names or personal information if you get quoted but I won't use any responses from non-Americans. Feel free to PM me if you want to know the context of you replys (ie the intitial topics of my dissertation). If you don't want me to use your post just say, but still feel free to voice your opinion. Here are my questions:

1) Overall has Iraq been a success? Why/why not?

2)Does the new constitution being underpinned by Islamic law worry you?? Why/why not?


  1. Yes it has. We completed our objective and are still in process of refining the government. It has been a few years, but these things take time.

  2. Yes. The separation of church and state is something I'm not sure they and a people can accept or adapt to.

You used "Islamic Law"....this is a example of religion used to craft a basis of laws.

Religion is deep seeded for Muslims as far as I know. Islamic religion has conflict with equality in people, particularly with women for example, but equality is a big part of a good democracy.


Yes it has been a success. Why?

  1. One of the most ruthless dictators in the region was not only taken from power, but is sitting in a jail cell awaiting trial by a jury of his former subjects.

  2. Over 20 million people had the opportunity to exercise their right to vote in free and open elections. Iraq will be a democracy. They are going through the birth pains right now.

I'm not too sure that your question is totally accurate. Frolm what I have heard, and read, the constitution will have some aspects of secular law as well as some aspects of Islamic law. But yes, it worries me that a religion will be blatantly used to form law. Why? Most countries that use Islamic law in the middle east are woefully ignorant of civil rights, human rights, and basically any other type of equitable treatment of their fellow man. I think it would be a little naive to think that I raq will be much different if Islamic law is the law of the land.


  1. No. We replaced a brutal dictator with an islamic theocracy. In addition, we lost thousands of American soldiers, billions of dollars, and hurt our reputation throughout the world. I think the aftermath of the war was poorly planned, and fought off of a poorly conceived notion that the Iraqis would ignore hundreds of ethnic divisions and simply "get along".

  2. Yes. Religous theocracies run directly counter to the goal of bringing more freedom to the world. In addition, I worry about long term alliances with Iran that might destabilize the region.


I find this second answer interesting. Is not Islam one of the, if not the, most peaceful of religions? So is in fact related to Islamic law, or is it the radical leadership of the power groups?

And as BB and others have inferred on several occasions, is not most laws based in some fundamental way in religion and religious beliefs? I realize not every codification is religious based, but I mean the overall spirit of alot of laws.


1) Partly successful, but mainly a colossal fuck-up. We have removed Saddam, and have opened up the possibility of a better life for the Iraqi people. However, I think Iraq's 'democracy' will rapidly degenerate into an Islamic theocracy, as the constitutional wrangling seems to indicate. This will mean no improvement in the life of Iraqi women, and other dangerous backward elements of Islam may come to the fore. Also, the war has cost 170 billion dollars to date, nearly 2000 US lives, and many more Iraqi ones. No WMDs have been found, world opinion is more against the US than ever, and more terrorists have been created.

2) Yes. It's the 21st century, not the 11th. Cutting peoples' hands off, oppressing women, public stonings, living your life by a mythology- it's bullshit.


A smashing success by Marie Antoinette's or Nero's standards.


Yes. So far, everything is going according to plan. Saudi Arabian oil fields are only a hop, skip and jump away now. We have control of three Saudi borders if you imagine naval deployments in the Red sea and the Persian Gulf.

Oh! Wait! This isn't the secret meeting at the Pentagon... what I meant to type was that the Iraqi people have some freedom now. And that's good.

I'll have to say no here. We have to be wary of making the Iraqi citizens' mind up for them. If they have to go through some growing pains in the democracy thing, then we have to let them. If their Islamic-tainted (if you will excuse my wording there) constitution seems unfamiliar or odd to us here in America, that's too bad. Remember, we are not making another US over there. We have to respect the Iraqi customs, now that they have some measure of self-determination. If this is what they want, then good.

Let them make up their own minds. I would say that they are leaps and bounds ahead of us compared to when we were in the infancy of our own democracy if you consider that our women couldn't even vote until the suffrage movement. Hell, our so-called "equal rights for everybody" nation used to have seperate drinking fountains and bathrooms for black people, for cryin' out loud! Things are quite better now.


  1. Depending on the definition of success - I think 'yes'. The military campaign was an overwhelming success, and I think the repercussions of it are not getting enough notice. As for postwar, I think it has been a mixed bag, but I don't think success can be measured as cleanly as we would all like. It is a 'success' in the sense that Iraqis will get a chance to take their shot at democratic government, for better or for worse. I think as far as the mission, that is the best scenario we - the world - could have hoped for.

Yes, it concerns me greatly, because 'democracy' is essentially value-neutral - we could have a group of ten of us and nine of us vote to go rob an old lady. The process was technically a democratic one, but nobody would actually think it was 'just' or 'right'.

We don't just want a democratic Iraq - we want an Iraq that also embraces Western political philosophy and notions of human rights, etc. We can't 'make' them change their culture to believe like we do.


Not only a success, but an unprecedented one! The Iraq people actually voting for their own leadership. A democracy being formed in the Middle East. Saddam taken prisoner. All quite phenomenal. So much so that if someone would have stated to you 10 years ago that all of the above would happened in Iraq you would have thought they were crazy!

Not really, at this point we don't know the full significance of Islamic law on the constitution. Obviously, if it is weighted down by various religious dogma then there could be a problem. At this point it's to early to tell. However, as long as people are allowed to vote and other important human rights are maintained it will most likely be better than Saddams tyranny.


Don't care for any informed opinions, eh?


Perhaps his survey is limited to the US.

  1. Too soon to tell if it is sucess. Mission accomplished for disarming/deposing Saddam, but as part of the overall war on terror we are still in the midst of battle.

  2. Many of our founding fathers were very religous, yet they were wise enough to not declare an official religion. I wish the Iraqis would show the same level of wisdom. Islamic (or any other)theocracy bothers me.


I think the war has been a success, as well as a good portion of the current 'policing action', if you will.

However, as brutal a dictator as Saddam may have been, Iraq under his rule was one of the more progressive states in the region, ie, one of very few countries where women could work, drive a car, etc. This new constitution may not be the great thing everyone thinks, as they could revert back to more Isloamic dogmatic law, 'putting the women back in their place', so to speak.


Agreed. Anyone claiming it has been an "unprecedented success" with as many casualties as we have seen with indeterminate gains needs either some new glasses or a schedule with a licensed psychiatrist.


I guess that depends on whether you're a half-full or half-empty kind of person. On the one hand, it does not appear that we're going to get a stable, U.S.-style republic right from the get-go. However, that was an especially optimitistic goal.

There seems to be a very reasonable chance of a workable constitution - hopefully one based on a regional-style federalism. If the Sunnis give up their Baathist dreams, this will work -- if not, it will likely be folllowed by low-level civil war, policed in part by young Americans.

Better than Saddam? Surely. Better than a crumbling regime under Saddam's sons during an Islamist upswing? Absolutely. But also not a quick and immediate fulfillment of the highest expectations either.

Iraq is now functioning at a higher level in terms of infrastructure than prior to the war. Standards of living are climbing, and things are moving towards stability. The fact that it hasn't happened instantaneously shouldn't be troubling. The fact that it may still collapse should be.

Yes, but mostly because of problems with other Islamist countries recently. If it develops more like Turkey, or even better, structurally like Switzerland in terms of the federalist government, then it shouldn't be a huge cause for worry.


Heh heh, yeah I only do the uninformed ones! Nah, I'm studying American culture so its not a lack of interest in opinion of non-Americans, it'd just be out of context to use them.

Everyone else: Thanks so much, there are plenty of good points to sift through here!


1 It is way too soon to make a definitive decision on success or failure. Look at how long it took the weimar republic to fail. Weimar was brought down by private militias Iraq could go the same way. While there are some things to be optimistic about, impatience could make the whole thing a wasted effort. Iraqs oil wealth makes it a huge prize worth fighting for on all sides of the war on terror.

2 Islamic law is based upon cruelty and predjudices that should have no place in the 21st century. Much of it was considered backwards and barbaric when it was created in the fifth century. For Iraq to become a modern nation it needs to have a modern secular justice system.