Eight years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, fostering civil society in Iraq remains a global responsibility. The New Iraq, published in 2003, presents an overview of the peoples and travails of this complex country and examines the challenge of state-building – past, present, and future. Part I, “Memory,” narrates the past as Iraqis remember it, from ancient Babylon to the Islamic period to the late-20th century. Part II, “Power,” analyzes the institutions of politics, religion, and military culture as they evolved under the rule of Saddam Hussein. Part III, “Money,” evaluates the economy of Iraq on the eve of the 2003 invasion with an eye toward the challenge of reconstruction as well as business opportunities arising from it. Part IV, “Truth,” explores Iraqi journalism, entertainment media, and the educational and legal systems of the Ba’th regime.
Since its publication, The New Iraq’s formulations have been validated by post-war events. The book predicts an Iraqi insurgency, calls for a reengineering of the Iraqi army from within rather than its dissolution, and flags Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani as a crucial player in Iraq’s political future. For a book on a somber topic, it is surprisingly entertaining – with classic Baghdadi jokes and political satire woven into the chapters.