History 4920/6920

The US-Iraq Wars

Mon-Wed-Fri, 1:25-2:15, Hardin 233
(Fall 2019)

Prof. Edwin E. Moise
Office: Hardin 102
Cell: 650-8845

Messages can be left in my mailbox in Hardin 126, or in the box on my office door.

Office Hours: I will try to be in my office at the following hours. It is possible that I may occasionally miss office hours, but on the other hand, I will be in my office, and available to you, at a lot of other times. E-mail me, or just check and see if my door is open.

    Monday                  2:30-3:20
    Tuesday    11:00-12:00, 2:00-3:15
    Wednesday  10:10-11:00, 2:30-3:15
    Thursday   (none)
    Friday     (none) 

Course Objectives

We will start with the history of 20th century Iraq. The main body of the course will be devoted to the two wars the United States has fought in Iraq: the first in 1991, and the second beginning in 2003, with its aftermath still playing out very actively today. Military and political factors, and the role of the media, will all be considered.

Learning Objectives

What goes into your grade

Your grade in the course will be based mainly on the written work I have assigned. You cannot do extra papers for extra credit. You can improve your grade a bit by participating in class discussion. The best way to pick up extra points is to argue against me in class; If you can point out to me that I have made a mistake you get two points extra in the gradebook. If you present a good clear argument that I am wrong about something, with evidence, then your grade may be boosted even if you do not succeed in convincing me.

I do not emphasize trivial factual details in this course. On tests and quizzes I will NOT ask you to tell me the date of the battle of Khafji, or the names of the commanders in it. There are some facts you need to know, but they are more important things than dates and names. On the other hand, I will expect you to get an idea of the sequence of events, what came first and what came later.

The most important single part of your grade will be the course paper. You can write it on whatever topic you please, within the limit of the subject matter of this course. Undergraduate term papers should be at least eight pages long typed double spaced for the actual text (not including title page, maps, illustrations, or Works Cited page). Longer papers are acceptable. Graduate student term papers should be at least fifteen pages.

A lot of things that have been written about the US-Iraq wars are not true. As you do your research, you should be thinking actively about whether you believe the things your sources are saying. I will not flunk you for guessing wrong, but you should make an effort to judge who is telling the truth and who is not; don't just take things on faith. Don't dodge the problem by sticking to questions on which you believe everything you read, either. Explaining why you think a particular source was wrong about a particular fact or opinion will tend to have a good influence on your grade.

For more detailed guidelines on the term paper, see Writing a Term Paper in Military History.

The paper is due Wednesday, December 4. I request that you turn it in electronically through Canvas, which records the date you submitted it. If Canvas says it was turned in on December 4 (in other words, if it got in before midnight), it will be considered on time. There will be a five point penalty if the paper is submitted on December 5 or 6. The penalty will be fifteen points if it is not in by midnight December 6.

You can have a pretty free choice of topics for this paper, within the limits of the subject matter of this course. You must come in and talk to me about your paper, and discuss the sources you will be using. It is not enough to say to me as we are walking out of the classroom one morning "Professor Moise, is it OK if I write about the First Battle of Fallujah?" You will need to talk things over with me for ten or fifteen minutes, not just a few seconds. After we have talked, I will give you a topic sheet, which you will then fill out and return to me. The sheet should describe your topic, with a list of the main sources you plan to use. There will be a five point penalty if you have not given this to me by October 23, and an additional five points if it is not in by October 30. If it still is not in by November 6, I will give you yet another five-point penalty.

If you give me a preliminary draft of your paper (preferably as an e-mail attachment) by November 22, I will look it over and give you suggestions about how you could improve it.

The paper is worth 150 points. The other written work will be:
    --Two newspaper research exercises, worth 40 points each.
    --One minor essay quiz: 20 points.
    --A test (70 points) and the final exam (120 points), which will be mostly essay questions.
This adds up to 440 points for the course. The basic grade scale is that 90% (396 points) is the bottom of the A range, 80% (352 points) is the bottom of the B range, and so on. Sometimes I alter the scale in the students' favor, never against them, depending on how the class is doing. Thus 396 points is a guaranteed A. But if very few students have 396 points or more, I may shift the line between A and B down to 394 or even 390 points, to create a reasonable grade distribution.

Any student who has an average of 90% or better, for work up to the final exam, will be permitted to exempt the final and will get an A for the course.

Academic Integrity Policy

Academic integrity requires that we not try to pass off other people's work as our own. The ways students have gotten into problems of academic dishonesty in this course, in past years, have been:

    Large portions of a term paper copied from a book or web site, without any indication that the material was copied. Typically this involves both large amounts of material quoted word-for-word, without quotation marks, and also a serious shortage of source notes pointing to the book from which the material came. Often there are misleading source notes claiming the material came from some source other than the one from which it was actually copied word-for-word. These false source notes are especially strong evidence that the copying was dishonesty and not just carelessness.

    Whole term paper obtained from some source (a commercial term paper service, or the Internet, or the collection of term papers that one of the fraternities used to have, and may still have).

    One student copies another student's 40-point newspaper research exercise, maybe changing a few words and substituting synonyms, but leaving the two papers still so similar that it is obvious the resemblance could not be coincidence. I would be likely to bring charges both against the student who copied and the student who allowed his or her paper to be copied.

If a student copied a paper from someplace without citing that source, but rephrased it, substituting synonyms for enough words so that the copied paper was not identical, word for word, to the original, this would still be academic dishonesty, but would be more difficult for me to prove.

There are some ways in which it is all right for students to help each other. If two students want to study together getting ready for a test, that is perfectly OK. Only after I have handed out the questions does help on a test become improper. But if two people work together on a newspaper research exercise, and turn in papers that are very similar because each has been getting a lot of help from the other in writing it, both will be in deep trouble. If one of your fellow students asks to look at your paper, to get a better idea of how the assignment was to be done, please say no. They should come to me to ask for further explanations of the assignment, rather than looking at a completed paper to give them their clues. If two papers are so similar it is obvious the author of one must have seen the other, I will file charges.

In furtherance of its Academic Integrity policy, Clemson University has a license agreement with, a service that helps prevent plagiarism in student assignments. I will request that you submit your research papers, at the end of the semester, to Turnitin through Blackboard. You will have the right to refuse to do this, if you wish. Turnitin will provide me with an originality rating and notation of possible text or contextual matches with other source documents. Turnitin does not make any determination of plagiarism. Rather, it identifies parts of an assignment that may have significant matches with other source documents found on the Internet, in the Turnitin database, or from other sources. If matches are identified and indicate the possibility of inclusion of material that is not properly cited, I will discuss this information with you before reaching any judgment or decision.

Do not turn in a paper in this course that you have also submitted in some other course, in this semester or a previous one, without consulting me first.

Title IX (Sexual Harassment) Statement

Clemson University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, veteran's status, genetic information or protected activity in employment, educational programs and activities, admissions and financial aid. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment and sexual violence as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This policy is located at Ms. Alesia Smith is the Clemson University Title IX Coordinator, and the Executive Director of Equity Compliance. Her office is located at 110 Holtzendorff Hall, 864.656.3181 (voice) or 864.656.0899 (TDD).

Accessibility Statement

Clemson University values the diversity of our student body as a strength and a critical component of our dynamic community. Students with disabilities or temporary injuries/conditions may require accommodations due to barriers in the structure of facilities, course design, technology used for curricular purposes, or other campus resources. Students who experience a barrier to full access to this class should let the professor know, and make an appointment to meet with a staff member in Student Accessibility Services as soon as possible. You can make an appointment by calling 864-656-6848, by emailing, or by visiting Suite 239 in the Academic Success Center building. Appointments are strongly encouraged – drop-ins will be seen if at all possible, but there could be a significant wait due to scheduled appointments. Students who receive Academic Access Letters are strongly encouraged to request, obtain and present these to their professors as early in the semester as possible so that accommodations can be made in a timely manner. It is the student's responsibility to follow this process each semester. You can access further information here:

Policy on late work

Under normal circumstances, my policy is: If you do not do written work on time, then with any reasonable excuse you will be able to make it up. However, you will be marked off for lateness. You will be marked off even if your excuse is very, very good. You can avoid a penalty only if I have told you before the work was due that you would be able to do it late without penalty. 40-point short papers will not usually be accepted at all (you just get an F) if they are more than seven days late.

Attendance policy

You are allowed up to six cuts INCLUDING EXCUSED ABSENCES. You lose two points for every unexcused absense after that. I would advise you not to take even five. I am going to be saying quite a few things in lectures that are not in the reading. Even if you are very careful about doing all the assigned reading, you will have trouble answering the questions on my tests if you have not been at the lectures.

If I am Late

If I have not gotten to class by five minutes after it was supposed to begin, I would be grateful if a student would go bang on my office door and see whether I am there. If I still have not arrived by ten minutes after the time the class was supposed to begin, you can give up on me and leave.

If Class Is Cancelled Due To Weather

If class is cancelled due to weather, on a day when an assignment was due or a test or quiz was scheduled, the date of the assignment, test, or quiz will simply be postponed to the next class, unless I inform you otherwise by e-mail.

Assigned reading

There are four books you should buy:

Course Outline

August 21: NO CLASS.

August 23: Class meets for the first time. Please read the whole syllabus carefully before class, and be ready to ask questions if anything in in seems unclear.

August 26: Iraq: Historical Background. No assigned reading.

August 28: US Involvement in the Region
    >>> Schwarzkopf, pp. 309-342


August 30: Reactions to Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait
    >>> Schwarzkopf, pp. 342-380

September 2: Operation Desert Shield
    >>> Schwarzkopf, pp. 381-421

September 4: Moving Toward War
    >>> Schwarzkopf, pp. 421-460

September 6: Moving Toward War
    >>> Schwarzkopf, pp. 461-480

                        QUIZ September 6

September 9:
"U.S. to Rely on Air Strikes if War Erupts" 9/16/1990
"War Toll Estimate" 11/1/1990
"Pentagon's Quick War Plan Seen Facing Pitfalls", Washington Post, January 13, 1991.

September 11: Air War, and Preparing for Ground War
    >>> Schwarzkopf, pp. 480-521

September 13,16: The Ground War
    >>> Schwarzkopf, pp. 522-569, 579-583

September 18: Saddam Husain Defeated and Contained
    >>> Ricks, pp. 3-22

September 20: Moving toward a Second War
    >>> Ricks, pp. 22-57

September 23,25: Moving toward a Second War (2)
    >>> Ricks, pp. 58-111

September 27: Taking Baghdad
    >>> Ricks, pp. 115-154

September 30: The Coalition Provisional Authority Ruling Iraq
    >>> Ricks, pp. 154-188
    >>> Mansoor, pp. 5-14

October 2: The Rise of the Insurgency
    >>> Ricks, pp. 189-225
    >>> Malkasian, pp. 17-34

October 4: Getting Tough
    >>> Ricks, pp. 225-269

October 7: TEST

October 9: Deterioration
    >>> Ricks, pp. 270-310

October 11, 16: The Crisis of Spring 2004
    >>> Ricks, pp. 311-359
    >>> Malkasian, pp. 35-42

FALL BREAK: No class October 14

October 18: The last months of the official American occupation: early 2004
    >>> Ricks, pp. 359-389

October 21: A nominally independent Iraq
    >>> Ricks, pp. 390-429
    >>> Malkasian, pp. 42-51

October 23: Continued Deterioration through 2006
    >>> Mansoor, pp. 14-33

Due date for term paper topic sheets: October 23

October 25: The Struggle for Ramadi
    >>> Malkasian, pp. 53-83

October 28: Ramadi continued
    >>> Malkasian, pp. 86-115

October 30: The Awakening
    >>> Malkasian, pp. 117-145

November 1, 4: Initiating the Surge
    >>> Malkasian, pp. 1-13, 145-159
    >>> Mansoor, pp. ix-xxvii, 1-3, 34-64
    >>> Ricks, pp. 430-439

November 6: The Surge Begins
    >>> Mansoor, pp. 65-90

November 8:

November 11: The Surge Continues
    >>> Mansoor, pp. 91-119

November 13: Supporting the Awakening; the Kurds
    >>> Mansoor, pp. 133-58
    >>> Malkasian, pp. 160-64

November 15: Making the Case
    >>> Mansoor, pp. 158-196
    General Petraeus or General Betray Us?
    General Betray Us?

November 18: The Struggle in the US
    >>> Mansoor, pp. 196-232

November 20: Winding down the Surge
    >>> Mansoor, pp. 233-275

November 22, 25: The American Withdrawal
    Reading to be added later

THANKSGIVING: No class November 27, 29

December 2: The Rise of the Islamic State
    >>> Malkasian, pp. 164-208

December 4: Recent events
Kareem Fahim and Suadad al-Salhy, "Exhausted and Bereft, Iraqi Soldiers Quit Fight", New York Times, June 11, 2014, A11.
Alissa Rubin, Suadad al-Salhy, and Rick Gladstone, "Iraq Shiite Cleric Urges Followers To Fight Militants", New York Times, June 14, 2014, A1.
L. Paul Bremer, "Only America Can Prevent a Disaster in Iraq", Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2014, A1.
Peter Baker, "Relief Over U.S. Exit From Iraq Fades as Reality Overtakes Hope", New York Times, June 23, 2014, A1.
Peter Baker, "Diplomatic Note Promises Immunity From Iraqi Law for U.S. Advisory Troops", New York Times, June 24, 2014, A10.
Michael D. Shear and Dalia Sussman, "Poll Finds Dissatisfaction over Iraq", New York Times, June 24, 2014, A12.
Gordon Lubold, Ben Kesling, and Paul Sonne, "Jim Mattis Says U.S. Isn't in Iraq to Take Its Oil; U.S. defense secretary is to assess the fight against Islamic State", Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2017.
Michael R. Gordon, "In Mosul's Endgame, Escape Proves Harrowing and Surrender Unlikely", New York Times, July 7, 2017, A4.
Tim Arango and Michael R. Gordon, "Iraqi Prime Minister Arrives in Mosul to Declare Victory Over ISIS", New York Times, July 9, 2017.
Tim Arango, "Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. Opened Door", New York Times, July 16, 2017, A1.

December 4: Submit term papers online through Canvas

December 6: Summary discussion

Final exam: Friday, December 13, 3:00 p.m.


Other Links

Web site of the Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas

Military History Atlases (U.S. Military Academy, West Point)

Selected Statistics on the Vietnam War, With a Few from Iraq

Other Links


Larger, more detailed map of Iraq (source: CIA map, on the Perry-Castaneda Library website) (same map as separate page).

The Middle East (source: CIA map, on the Perry-Castaneda Library website).

Edwin Moïse's homepage

Revised December 6, 2021.