The Struggle for Iraq


The Struggle for Iraq

A View from the Ground Up

Thomas M. Renahan

536 pages
6 maps, 1 glossary, index


June 2017


$49.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2017


$49.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2017


$49.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The Struggle for Iraq is a vivid personal account of the Iraqi people’s fight for democracy and justice by an American political scientist. Thomas M. Renahan arrived in southern Iraq just three days before the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Later he worked in Baghdad through the dark days of the country’s sectarian violence and then in Iraqi Kurdistan. One of the few Americans to serve in all three major regions of Iraq, he spearheaded projects to develop democratic institutions, promote democracy and elections, and fight corruption.

With inside accounts of two USAID projects and of a Kurdish government ministry, this engrossing and cautionary story highlights efforts to turn Baathist Iraq into a democratic country. Renahan examines the challenges faced by the Iraqi people and international development staff during this turbulent time, revealing both their successes and frustrations. Drawing on his on-the-ground civilian perspective, Renahan recounts how expatriate staff handled the hardships and dangers as well as the elaborate security required to protect them, how Iraqi staff coped with the personal security risks of working for Coalition organizations, and the street-level mayhem and violence, including the assassinations of close Iraqi friends.

Although Iraq remains in crisis, it has largely defeated the ISIS terrorists who seized much of the country in 2014. Renahan emphasizes, however, that reconciliation is still the end game in Iraq. In the concluding chapters he explains how the United States can support this process and help resolve the complex problems between the Iraqi government and the independence-minded Kurds, offering hope for the future.


Author Bio

Thomas M. Renahan is a political scientist, public administrator, and international development consultant. He is coeditor of the Iraq- and ISIS-focused Daesh Daily newsletter.


"[An] eye-opening book that amply shows how America's civilian work aiding democratic reconstruction in Iraq is unfinished."—Kirkus

"[Renahan's] insights as a civilian on the ground will inform readers not only of the difficulties that lay ahead in the continuing state-building effort but the endurance of the mutual vision for reconciliation."—Middle East Journal

"Having worked in all three of Iraq's major regions and witnessed some of the country's darkest days in the aftermath of the US invasion in 2003, Renahan offers his personal perspective on the challenges faced by the country as it has struggled to recover from the war and build democratic institutions."—Global Politics and Strategy

“Reading this book will make you recalculate some of the things you think you know about Iraq. It is a clear and accurate first-person account of what led Iraq to the problems it is facing now, including Daesh, and how decision makers in both the United States and Iraq can start solving them.”—Ali Sada, Iraq Research Foundation for Analysis and Development

“The story of Dr. Tom and Iraq covers some dramatic events, from the capture of Saddam to Renahan’s USAID anti-corruption project and Daesh’s declaration of the Islamic state. Renahan’s writing style is engaging, and his proposed solutions to Iraq’s complex political issues are impressive.”—Abdulla Barzangy, international development project manager

Table of Contents

List of Maps
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Iraq from the Ground Up
Part 1. Southern Iraq
1. An American Advisor in the New Iraq
2. The Campaign for Democracy
3. Democracy and the Culture of Violence
4. Bottoming Out
Part 2. Baghdad and Beyond
5. “Welcome Back to Your Country”
6. Islam and Democracy in the New Iraq
7. The Struggle to Reduce Corruption
8. Extending the Anti-Corruption Struggle to the National Level
9. The Struggle for Human Rights
10. The Struggle to Protect Civil Society Organizations
11. The Personal Meaning of Terrorism
12. The Day the Music Died
13. Sinking Your Own Ship
14. The Instinct to Control
15.  USAID and Lessons Learned in Iraq
Part 3. Kurdistan from the Inside
16. The Kurds—Red, White, and Blue and Shades of Gray
17. A Ministry from the Ground Up
18. Reforming a Ministry—Starting Low, Aiming High
Part 4. America and the Future of Iraq
19. Picking Up the Pieces in a Shattered Country
20. Winning the Endgame in Iraq
21. Drawing Lines in the Sand
22. The American from Iraq

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