The removal of the regime of Saddam Hussein and the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Iraqi state were critical components of U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East in the aftermath of 9/11. It was hoped that the Iraqi people, free from the oppression of Saddam’s regime, could put aside their differences and transform the country into a ‘beacon of democracy’ in the Middle East.Why is it that a state which, on paper, would seem to have immense potential, became a pariah, deemed to be a threat to its own people, or to its neighbours? Can the answers be found in the peculiar psychological make-up of particular political leaders, or are there structural weaknesses inherent within the construct of the state itself? What is the social, political and economic impact on the people of this tortured state of years of war, deprivation and hardship in addition to existing under the oppressive totalitarian regime of Saddam Hussein?In this timely new book, Gareth Stansfield explores these and other pertinent questions, and frames them in an analysis which takes into account Iraq’s diverse society, and the geopolitical interventions of regional states and great powers which have contributed to the tortured political development of Iraq. He concludes with an assessment of Iraq since the removal of Saddam, and what may be in store for the people of this tragic country in future years.