This chapter tries to make sense of a simple yet pertinent query: is Iraq withering away? This of course does not necessarily mean the demise of Iraq as a legally constituted sovereign state, or its ultimate dismemberment. The question is whether there will be an Iraq that would resemble the country as it existed from 1921 to 2003, a sovereign, seemingly unified member of the international community. The author claims that the most useful and effective way to make sense of the post-2003 apparent waning of the country—the failures of state institutions, the frailty of democratic attitudes and commitments, and the fragility of a coherent national identity—is through a systematic understanding of the same three projects as they were first undertaken by the British and the Iraqi ruling elites in 1921, and then developed during the life span of the country right through to the tumultuous happenings of the post-2003 era.
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