As the war on Iraq appeared imminent, a number of claims were made about such things as the nature of the Iraqi state, the true desires and aspirations of the Iraqi people, the views of leaders and publics in the Middle East, the road to Iraqi democracy and post-conflict reconstruction, and the productive role the United States could play in the future of Iraq.
But what facts, knowledge, and understandings undergirded these scenarios? What knowledge was left out of this imagined Iraq? What do we know of how Iraq is understood by the multiplicity of communities both outside and within its contested borders? What meanings does Iraq evoke as a "nation" or a political entity? Who are the Iraqis, outside the clichéd labels applied to them, and what other identities may be at play?
The essays here provided some light on these questions on the eve of the war on Iraq.