The United States officially went to war in Iraq 10 years ago, on March 19, 2003. But in one small sense, the war can be said to have begun in 1989. That was the year a London-based Iraqi architect named Kanan Makiya published a book called “Republic of Fear.”
Written under the pseudonym Samir al-Khalil, the book offered a devastating inside analysis of Saddam Hussein’s regime, depicting it as a Middle Eastern version of the totalitarian states that emerged in Europe in the 1920s. Makiya, the son of a prominent Iraqi architect, was living in the West after having worked for his father’s firm and receiving a PhD in architecture from MIT. When Hussein invaded Kuwait the next year and the United States went to war, “Republic of Fear” became a surprise bestseller; its author went on to become a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at Brandeis University. And when George W. Bush’s administration built the case for the second Iraqi war starting in 2001, it turned to Makiya’s book for support once again.