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The Sardinian, the Texan and the Tikriti: Gramsci, the comparative autonomy of the Middle Eastern state and regime change in Iraq

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To be persuasive, explanations of the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 need to discuss the evolution of United States foreign policy but also the economic and political development of the Middle Eastern state. Antonio Gramsci's notions of the war of manoeuvre and the war of position are key to understanding both the resort to violence but also its failure. For the Bush administration, as it set about applying its new doctrine in the aftermath of 9/11, the Baathist regime in Baghdad was a glaring example of the previous limits of US hegemony. The autonomy built up by the regime over 35 years of rule allowed it to defy the institutions of the international community and resist the application of 13 years of coercive diplomacy. The invasion signalled the Bush administration's shift from a war of position back to one of manoeuvre. If the Iraqi regime could be removed, if the full force of US military might could be displayed in one of the most important states in the region, then the rest of the Arab regimes could be made to submit fully to US hegemony. The need to deploy coercion was indicative of the geographic limits of ideational hegemony. The Middle East became such a central concern for the administration, and ultimately Iraq was invaded because the region had retained a comparative autonomy from neo-liberal policy prescriptions and the United States' promotion of polyarchy.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/38830/

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