My Travels to Baghdad

Iraq: An American Tragedy, My Travels to Baghdad

Warren Coats (2020)

Kindle and paperback versions available at: Iraq-American-Tragedy-My-Travels-Baghdad

From the corkscrew landing at Saddam International Airport (now the Baghdad International Airport) to adventures in the Green Zone and beyond, this recounting of my experiences helping the Central Bank of Iraq develop modern market tools of monetary policy exposes the disfunction of the U.S. lead Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in its attempt to govern and rebuild post Saddam Iraq, following one of America’s more foolish and damaging military adventures. The existence of weapons of mass destruction was a lie. American skill at imperial rule–from disbanding the Iraqi Army to De-Ba’athification of the Iraqi bureaucracy– was a myth. 

Regime changes usually don’t involve changes in the monetary system. However, the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s government and the occupation of Iraq and the takeover of its government by the United States and a few allies in the name of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was accompanied by the replacement of the so-called Saddam dinar and modernization of Iraq’s monetary and financial system. The Iraq war was launched with “shock and awe” on March 20, 2003 and President George W Bush declared “mission accomplished” on May 1 a month and a half later. But when I retired from the International Monetary Fund and took up residence in Baghdad to advise the Central Bank of Iraq on developing Iraq’s financial markets and managing its new currency, the fighting was not over on many fronts. I lived in Baghdad the last two months of the CPA (May-June 2004) and made four two-week visits between then and December 2005

In this book, much of it written in diary form at the time, I share the challenges of advising the staff and management of the Central Bank of Iraq from my office in the central bank and of navigating the U.S. interagency rivalry from my office in Saddam’s Republican Palace in Baghdad’s Green Zone.  Security was always a challenge, producing many adventures. But the wisest advice I received was from a colleague in the CPA, who told me to “be careful who you talk to here (CPA headquarters in the Republican Palace), your worst enemies are in this building.” Over my 26 years in the International Monetary Fund and the technical assistance missions I lead to some 20 countries, many of them post conflict countries, I have never encountered the disfunction and resulting ineptitude of the U.S. led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

Previous Books

One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina

by Warren Coats (2007)    Hard cover: One Currency for Bosnia

FSU: Building Market Economy Monetary Systems–My Travels in the Former Soviet Union

By Warren L Coats (2020)  Kindle and paperback versions available at: FSU-Building-Economy-Monetary-Systems

Afghanistan: Rebuilding the Central Bank after 9/11 — My Travels to Kabul

By Warren Coats (2020)  Kindle Edition:  “Afghanistan-Rebuilding the Central Bank after 9/11”

Zimbabwe: Challenges and Policy Options after Hyperinflation

by Warren L. Coats (Author), Geneviève Verdier (Author)  Format: Kindle Edition

Zimbabwe-Challenges and Policy Options after Hyperinflation-ebook

Money and Monetary Policy in Less Developed Countries: A Survey of Issues and Evidence

by Warren L. Coats (Author, Editor), Deena R. Khatkhate (Author, Editor)  Format: Kindle Edition

Money and Monetary Policy in LDCs-ebook

About wcoats

I specialize in advising central banks on monetary policy and the development of the capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy.  I joined the International Monetary Fund in 1975 from which I retired in 2003 as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department. While at the IMF I led or participated in missions to the central banks of over twenty countries (including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Serbia, Turkey, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Zimbabwe) and was seconded as a visiting economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1979-80), and to the World Bank's World Development Report team in 1989.  After retirement from the IMF I was a member of the Board of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority from 2003-10 and of the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review from 2010-2017.  Prior to joining the IMF I was Assistant Prof of Economics at UVa from 1970-75.  I am currently a fellow of Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise.  In March 2019 Central Banking Journal awarded me for my “Outstanding Contribution for Capacity Building.”  My most recent book is One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have a BA in Economics from the UC Berkeley and a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago. My dissertation committee was chaired by Milton Friedman and included Robert J. Gordon.
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