The Iraq Debacle: A Conversation with Kanan Makiya and Lawrence Weschler
The Institute for Public Knowledge invites you to a conversation between Kanan Makiya and Lawrence Weschler on war, occupation, democracy, and sectarian violence in Iraq on the occasion of the publication of Makiya's new novel, The Rope, on Wednesday, March 30, 6:00-8:00PM at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, on the 7th floor of 20 Cooper Square. For more info and to RSVP, please visit the event page.
In 1989, the Iraqi exile Kanan Makiya, understandably writing under a pseudonym, published Republic of Fear, a scathing indictment of the horrendously dystopian regime of Saddam Hussein then holding sway over his homeland. He came out from under that pseudonym in Lawrence Weschler’s January 1992 profile in the New Yorker (subsequently included in Weschler’s Calamities of Exile collection). Makiya went on to become one of the leading critics of Arab intellectual collusion in the persistence of totalitarian regimes across the Middle East, and an advocate of the urgent need for Western-supported regime change in Baghdad—presently providing intellectual and moral cover for the likes of Michael Ignatieff, Christopher Hitchens, and others in their support of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Makiya, a frequent visitor to Iraq in the years since, came to have profound second, third and fourth thoughts about that position. He is now filtering some of those ideas through his new novel of intra-sectarian Shiite violence and betrayal in post-war Iraq, The Rope (Pantheon), including an imagined Grand Inquisitor-like conversation with Saddam himself, on the eve of the tyrant’s botched execution.
Makiya will read from his new novel and engage Weschler in a conversation about his own journey and where it has led him to in his current estimations of the situation across the Middle East.
Kanan Makiya is among Iraq's most prominent democracy and human rights advocates. Born in Baghdad in 1949, he left Iraq in 1968 to study architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but, starting in 1981, dedicated himself to advocacy for a free Iraq and the study of tyranny. His 1989 book, Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq, offered a rare glimpse into the inner workings of Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime. Other works followed, including The Monument, and the prize-winning Cruelty and Silence: War, Tyranny, Uprising, and the Arab World.
Lawrence Weschler is an award winning writer, journalist, and curator. For over twenty years (1981-2002) he was a staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies. He is the director emeritus of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU which he led from 2001 to 2014. His over fifteen books include Calamities of Exile; A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers; and the forthcoming Domestic Scenes: The Art of Ramiro Gomez.
This event is co-sponsored by the Literary Reportage program of the Arthur L Carter Journalism Institute at NYU and the New York Institute for the Humanities.