Policing Iraq

Picture of a book cover, featuring a close up of a police vehicle with policing students in the middleground sitting on the ground, with mountains faintly visible in the background

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Policing Iraq chronicles the efforts of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq to rebuild their police force and criminal justice system in the wake of the US invasion. Jesse Wozniak conducted extensive ethnographic research during multiple stays in the KRG, observing such signpost moments as the Arab Spring, the official withdrawal of coalition forces, the rise of the Islamic State, and the return of US forces. By investigating the day-to-day reality of reconstructing a police force during active hostilities, Wozniak demonstrates how police are integral to the modern state’s ability to effectively rule, and how the failure to recognize this directly contributed to the destabilization of Iraq and the rise of the Islamic State. The reconstruction process ignored established practices and scientific knowledge, instead opting to create a façade of legitimacy masking a force defined by low pay, poor recruits, and a training regimen wholly unsuited to a constitutional democracy. Ultimately, Wozniak argues, the US never intended to build a democratic state, but rather a dependent client to serve its neo-imperial interests.

Policing Iraq will be available from the University of California Press March 2021.

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