Sociology Country Report

Throughout the history of our world, political theories have governed nations great and small; regulating the teeming masses. In the under-developed third world country of Iraq the only apparent governing political theory was terrorism and a cult like hierarchy that left Iraq in a swarm of U.S. bound hatred. In the literary work by John Isbister, Promises Not Kept, a different angle is shown in the political melting pot that is Iraq. After analyzing the work of John Isbister, six political theories have been discovered: the modernization theory, imperialism, nationalism, globalization, foreign policy, and economic development. Through my analyzation, I was able to come to a conclusion on the implementation of these theories into the country of Iraq.

The modernization theory and globalization are ideas that hold true to the society of Iraq. The modernization theory is the fundamental proposition that people in traditional societies should adopt the characteristics of modern societies in order to modernize their social, political and economic institutions . This is also related to globalization and westernization. Globalization is the name for the process of increasing the connectivity and interdependence of the world’s markets and businesses . The biggest influence that was made on Iraq was from the Western world. This influence came first in the form of transportation and the switch to cash crop production for export. As this was happening, the population of traveling people decreased and the sedentary population increased, particularly in the south. As this was occurring, production increased and consequently so did exports and earnings. The society was changing from pastoral to agricultural, subsistence to commercial, tribal-communal to landlord. Marketing towns increased and handicraft industries were eradicated. It also marked the urban growth with a mercantile and bureaucratic-administrative character that is still a strong feature of Iraqi society.

This new developing society and market lead to imperialism. This is the highest stage of capitalism. Imperialism is characterized by monopoly corporations and the compulsion to export capital abroad for higher profits . Iraq basically became an imperialist power with the discovery and marketing of oil. Of all of the exports that Iraq has, petroleum makes up 99% of it . Because of this, Iraq was able to control OPEC and had control of the world’s economy.

Economic development is a very important issue discussed in Isbister. In Iraq in the 1960’s, investment in industries was responsible for about one-quarter of the budget for development. This number increased to almost thirty percent after the Baath revolution in 1968, but decreased to eighteen percent during the Iraq-Iran war. Most of this economic development was contributed by oil.

Foreign policy is a concept that Isbister talks about as well. In the 1980’s, Iraq’s main foreign policy was the war in Iran. The goal of the war was to halt any potential foreign assistance to the Shias and to the Kurdish opponents of the regime and to end Iranian domination of the area . The war was supposed to be an easy victory, but ended up to be lengthy and more problematic than initially anticipated. The several compromises proposed between the two sides were unacceptable, so the strategy was to get out of the war with as little damage as possible. This war was a burden on Iraq politically, economically, and socially. The only beneficial consequence of the war was its impact on the patterns of Iraq’s foreign relations. The two changes were with the relations between Iraq and the United States and the Soviet Union. Iraq moved away from its close relationship with the Soviet Union and drew closer to the United States.

Nationalism is the aspiration for national independence felt by people under domination. Nationalism in Iraq seemed to start with the creation of the Baath party. It was created in 1947 and their first major activity was to join other opposing parties to form the United National Front, which lead to a revolution in 1958. The party created a new republican government and hoped that it would favor pan-Arab causes, but the outcome turned out to be opposite. The Baathists took it into their own hands and decided that the current Iraqi leader had to be removed. They made an assassination attempt, which was unsuccessful. In 1963 they succeeded in overthrowing the government and created a Baath government. “After the Baath takeover, Bakr became president of the regime, and he initiated programs aimed at the establishment of a “socialist, unionist, and democratic” Iraq. This was done, according to the National Action Charter, with scrupulous care for balancing the revolutionary requirements of Iraq on the one hand and the needs of the “Arab nation” on the other.” One of the goals of the Baath party was to create a strong and unified Iraq. They would do this by changing the government and through political campaigns designed to eliminate exploitation, social inequities, sectarian loyalties, apathy, and lack of civil spirit. Another goal of the Baath was to socialize the economy. By the late 1980s, the party had succeeded in socializing a significant part of the national economy, including agriculture, commerce, industry, and oil. These goals of the Baath increased nationalism.

In conclusion, the book Promises Not Kept by John Isbister deciphered political theories that have been well established in the country of Iraq. Throughout the ages, we will see these political theories flourish or quite possible diminish in the decades to come. Political theories, as the author has pointed out, are not only beneficial to govern, but to broaden our horizon, creating a link between rich and poor; creating a link between Iraq and the U.S.


Ellwood, Wayne. The No-Nonsense Guide to Globalization. Oxford: New Internationalist Publications 2001

“Iraq Foreign Policy.” Retrieved November 16, 2003 <>

“Iraq Growth and Structure of the Economy.” Retrieved November 17, 2003 <>

“Iraq Oil in the 1980s.” Retrieved November 16, 2003 <>

“Iraq Politics The Baath Party.” Retrieved November 20, 2003

“Iraq Social Systems.” Retrieved November 15, 2003 <>

Isbister, John. Promises Not Kept. Connecticut: Kumarian Press, 2004

Simon, Reeva S. Iraq Between the Two World Wars. New York: Columbia University Press 1986

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