Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Reforming 'rogue states'; sovereignty, intervention, and Iraq


This project examines regime change in Iraq in international perspective. It goes on to study US attempts to rebuild and reform state institutions and their interaction with society in the aftermath of war and sanctions. It will conclude by looking at the consequences of US intervention for post cold war international relations, the notion of post colonial sovereignty and more generally the position of the wider Middle East in the international system.

In Iraq today the US are presiding over what had become the quintessential post colonial rogue state. Such post cold war military interventions into failed or rogue states with the overt aim of reforming their political systems are increasingly common. However, whether carried out in the name of international security, human rights or global governance, they have to date, been largely unsuccessful. In many respects the rise of the Bush doctrine in the aftermath of 9/11 represents a conscious attempt to codify changes to international relations in the last two decades, recognising and institutionalising the political effects of attacks on economic sovereignty under the Washington Consensus of the 1980s and demands for liberal good governance in the 1990s. The question haunting the Bush doctrine is what to do with those states that will not or more problematically cannot earn their sovereignty in the ways demanded by the US? The evolution of this most difficult but most important aspect of the Bush doctrine will take place in Iraq. This research project will study this evolution and its ramifications for the region and the post colonial world beyond.

Two research trips have already been carried out, the first to Baghdad in November 2002 in the run up to regime change (funded by the Royal Institute for International Affairs) and the second in June 2003 in its aftermath as US plans for reforming Iraq began to unfold (funded by the International Institute for Strategic Studies). The project has already resulted in an edited book, and a journal article (see below). A short single authored book, an Adelphi paper, will be published in the autumn by the International Institute for Strategic Studies and Oxford University Press, and a much longer single authored monograph will be published by the Royal Institute for International Affairs and Blackwells in the spring of next year.


Dodge, Toby, and Simon, Steven (eds), Iraq at the Crossroads: State and Society in the Shadow of Regime Change, (London and Oxford: International Institute for Strategic Studies and Oxford University Press, 2003).

Dodge, Toby, ‘US Intervention and Possible Iraqi Futures’, Survival, vol. 45, no. 3, Autumn 2003, pp. 103–122.