The Lawfare Podcast: Two Perspectives on the Invasion of Iraq at 20, with Ambassador Doug Silliman and Salem Chalabi

By Jen Patja Howell
Monday, March 20, 2023, 5:01 AM

Twenty years ago today, the United States invaded the nation of Iraq, intent on removing the regime of dictator Saddam Hussein and installing a stable democratic government. What followed instead was two decades of political instability and horrible sectarian violence that has yielded a modern Iraqi state that remains plagued with corruption and other problems, and is increasingly under immense pressure from the nearby regime in Iran.

To gain perspective on the legacy of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and how it continues to shape the relationship between the two countries today, Lawfare Senior Editor Scott R. Anderson sat down for conversations with two individuals whose personal and professional lives have been intimately tied up in the last two decades of the U.S.-Iraq relationship. First, Scott sat down with Ambassador Doug Silliman, who is now the president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, and who previously served in numerous capacities in Iraq, including as ambassador, over his decades-long career as a U.S. diplomat. Scott then sat down with Salem Chalabi, an individual who has held numerous positions across several administrations in the Iraqi government over the past two decades, most recently serving as the head of the Trade Bank of Iraq until January of this year. In each conversation, they discuss the legacy of the U.S. invasion, how it impacts the bilateral relationship today, and the central role Iran has come to play in the country.