Iraq 20 years on: Insider reflections on the war and its aftermath

This essay collection explores two decades of state-building in Iraq and the lessons to be learned.
Other resource Updated 12 December 2023 Published 20 March 2023
Photo of anti-government protests in Baghdad, 2019

This Chatham House essay collection, published to mark 20 years since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, brings together the observations and analysis of practitioners from a wide range of professional backgrounds who have lived and worked in Iraq over the past two decades.

This collection explores the complex and devastating legacy of the invasion, the occupation and decisions made by Iraqi and international leaders in the years following, what could have been done differently, and how Iraq’s current situation can be understood.

Taken together, these personal stories and the lessons learned offer insights for policymakers, analysts and others concerned with Iraq – and with other conflict and post-conflict zones – on the perils of promoting democracy through war, on the consequences of agreeing short-term political bargains at the expense of long-term stability, and on the importance of accountability as a founding principle for any new system of governance.