Human Welfare, War and Sanctions in Iraq under Saddam Hussein

Thursday, June 5, 2014
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
CISAC Central Conference Room, 2nd floor

This event is co-sponsored by the Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation (SCICN).

Abstract: Who bears the costs associated with the foreign policy decisions of dictators? And to what extent are the burdens of war borne by particular ethnic groups in a multi-ethnic society? Using internal Iraqi government documents amassed in the wake of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq as well as survey data collected shortly after the fall of the regime, I provide evidence for the unequal distribution of war costs associated with the Iran-Iraq War, the First Gulf War as well as the impact of the international sanctions regime, what some have deemed an "invisible" economic war. I find that Shi`a Iraqis were more likely than their Sunni counterparts - and much more likely than Iraqi Kurds - to have been killed, become prisoners of war or to have gone missing in action during the first half of the Iran-Iraq War. Shi`a families were also more likely to have had a brother or father martyred in either the Iran-Iraq War or the First Gulf War while simultaneously being less likely to enjoy a "Friend of the President" designation, which afforded families certain rights and privileges vis-à-vis the regime. At the end of the sanctions period immediately following the fall of the regime, Shi`a Iraqis were also three times more likely to be living in poverty or extreme poverty than Sunnis from Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit but only about 20 percent more likely to be poverty stricken when compared to Sunnis from Iraq's far western provinces. These results provide strong evidence for the existence of a hierarchy of burden associated with the foreign policy decisions of the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein.

About the Speaker: Lisa Blaydes is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Stanford University.  She is the author of Elections and Distributive Politics in Mubarak’s Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 2011).  Professor Blaydes received the 2009 Gabriel Almond Award for best dissertation in the field of comparative politics from the American Political Science Association for this project.  Her articles have appeared in the American Political Science Review, International Studies Quarterly, International Organization, Journal of Theoretical Politics, Middle East Journal, and World Politics. During the 2008-9 and 2009-2010 academic years, Professor Blaydes was an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies.  She holds degrees in Political Science (PhD) from the University of California, Los Angeles and International Relations (BA, MA) from Johns Hopkins University.