Regime Change in the Name of Freedom and Democracy: Neo-Liberal State-Building and Colonialism Reloaded in Iraq

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 16 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Deniz GOKALP, American University in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The implications of regime change in Yugoslavia in the 1990s had been disastrous (and political violence always spills over national borders as asylum seekers, victims of war, trafficked humans etc.); and one would expect the powerful global actors to have learnt lessons from the tragic consequences of the externally imposed neoliberal reconstruction of the states in Eastern Europe. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a continuation of what was left unfinished in Iraq by the end of the Gulf War in 1991: ‘regime change.’ Regime change has been part of the global trend of neoliberal disciplining of the divergent states of former colonies from Yugoslavia to Somalia, and Afghanistan to Yemen. Iraq was among the rogue states identified by The National Security Strategy of the United States in 2002, because it was an anomaly of decolonization like the other rogue states. Under the pretext of the WOT, Iraq was thought of an experimental case for restructuring the state and its relationship with the society in the Greater Middle East. The invasion of Iraq was the first step in reconfiguring the state-society relations from Iraq to Egypt, and Syria to Yemen. Drawing on the international literature dealing with ‘rouge states’, ‘regime change’ and ‘neoliberal reconstruction’, this paper aims to delineate the linkages between state failure, political violence and neoliberal reconstruction through military occupation. It examines the state-building process in Iraq since 2003 arguing that the so-called state-building process is a series of misguided international efforts based on a crude neoliberal ideology to regulate the war(s) in Iraq, as well as to normalize the tragic impact on Iraqi society of the complete dismantling of the Iraqi state and state institutions. The research supporting this paper includes fieldwork conducted in Iraq in 2014.