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Political Economy of Security Fall 2022 Virtual Workshop: "Dangerous Allies: The Tilt Toward Iraq, 1980-1985"

Date(s) - 10/21/2022
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

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Join us for this second Political Economy of Security Fall 2022 Virtual Workshop, featuring Jonathan Ng (Northwestern). Discussant – Michael Brenes (Yale).

“Dangerous Allies: The Tilt Toward Iraq, 1980-1985” is the seventh chapter in my book manuscript, The Unquenchable Fire: The Arms Trade and Reproduction of the US Empire, 1960-1988. My book project demonstrates that the arms trade is crucial to understanding the evolution of US foreign policy since the 1970s, examining a series of interlocking case studies that involve major clients ranging from Chile, Israel, and El Salvador to Iraq. Weapons sales allowed officials to overcome new limits to interventionism after the Vietnam War, regenerating both defense contractors and the US empire during a period of sustained crisis. A permissive export policy allowed state and corporate leaders to spin a web of dependency, as foreign clients became proxies reliant on foreign technology, credit, and technicians. Thus, the United States increasingly outsourced both the work and costs of imperialism through arms sales during the late Cold War.

In this chapter, I argue that trade liberalization became the core of the Reagan administration’s “tilt policy” during the Iran-Iraq War. In the process, the arms and energy industries fused, and Iraq became imbricated in a global military-industrial complex. Ultimately, I suggest that Iraq was an essential market for Western military contractors, even as sales consolidated feedback loops of instability in the Persian Gulf: incentivizing conflict, fueling debt crises, and indelibly entangling the United States in the region.

Zoom link will be distributed to those signed up for the Project on the Political Economy of Security mailing list.

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