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The Patterns and Dynamics of Revolution: Insights into Iraq

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Strategy research project

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By invading Iraq, removing Saddam Husseins regime from power, dismantling the Baathist-controlled structures of government and civil administration, and guiding Iraq toward a democratic form of government, the United States and its coalition partners precipitated revolutionary change in Iraq. Although not a revolution in the classic sense, this imposed revolution set into motion socio-political forces that appear to have replicated the patterns and dynamics of classic revolutions as presented by Crane Brinton in his seminal work, Anatomy of a Revolution. By using the patterns and dynamics of revolution in an analytical framework, one can gain insight into the challenges to be faced in Iraq and the actions the Coalition will need to take to achieve its objectives in Iraq. This paper first establishes the basis for the premise that revolution has been imposed in Iraq. It then reviews the classic patterns and dynamics associated with the revolutionary overthrow of a government outlined by Crane Brinton. The paper then demonstrates that these patterns can be seen in the developments in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. It then explores the implications that these patterns, and their underlying dynamics, have for the future course of events in Iraq. It also explores several factors that may act as variables to modify the dynamics and the resulting patterns of events. The paper identifies three significant deviations in Iraq from Brintons classic model the tri-furcated nature of Iraqi society created by the divisions between Arab Sunnis, Arab Shias, and Kurds the lack of pre-revolutionary conditions in Iraq prior to the fall of Saddam and the presence of the Coalition itself. It also identifies seven variables that may be manipulated to either enhance or detract from the eventual outcome in Iraq.

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  • Government and Political Science

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