The Legacy of the War in Iraq 20 Years Later is the Focus of Peace and Justice Week at Manhattan College

This year’s programming will help students gain a better understanding of the war’s legacy and continued relevance today.

Manhattan College’s annual Peace and Justice Week will focus on the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War with a series of four events that explore the war’s impact and legacy. The program begins on April 18 and concludes on April 26.  Peace-Pole.jpg

“Many of our current undergraduate students were not yet born when the Iraq War started, and yet that war has greatly shaped the world that they will enter into as adults,” said Nuwan Jayawickreme, director of peace and justice studies and associate professor of psychology. “The events that are part of the week’s programming will allow them to gain a better understanding of the legacy and impact of that war.”

Here is the full schedule of events:

Tuesday, April 18, 3:30 p.m., DLS 300

Revisiting the Iraq War: Historical Causes and Legacies

Panel Discussion with Drs. Lydia Crafts, Ph.D., assistant professor, history and Margaret Groarke, Ph.D., professor, political science 

This panel discussion will include debates about why the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 has primarily focused on faulty intelligence that concluded the nation possessed weapons of mass destruction. Groarke and Crafts will highlight historical events leading up to the war and why many groups, including neoconservatives and the Christian right,  became increasingly supportive of an aggressive U.S. foreign policy. The panelists will also discuss the global movement to protest the war and how the history of the Iraq War continues to influence policies, including the war in the Ukraine.  This panel discussion is sponsored by the Peace and Justice Studies program, History, International Studies, Political Science and Sociology departments.

Wednesday, April 19, 12 p.m., Kelly 5C

Reckoning with Militarism

Presentation by Dr. Nadia Abu El-Haj, Ph.D., Ann Whitney Olin professor of anthropology,  Barnard College and Columbia University 

In this presentation, Abu El-Haj will focus on the “traumatized U.S. soldier” who she contends is symbolic of the war to many Americans. Some of the critical questions that she’ll explore include what is the political purpose behind this symbol and what has been asked of the citizens who have not served, compared to those who went to war and are suffering its consequences.  

She will also explore the reasons that an “ethics of care” displaces a critical and urgent reckoning with the last 20 years of what have come to be called the forever wars.

The presentation is sponsored by the Peace and Justice Studies program, Student Engagement, International Studies and Sociology departments and the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center.

Thursday, April 20, 6:30 p.m., Miguel 311 (Rodriguez Room)

Major Authors Reading Series (MARS) 

Brian Turner, Iraq War Veteran and Poet/Memoirist

Brian Turner’s latest book, My Life as a Foreign Country: A Memoir, has been called “achingly, disturbingly, shockingly beautiful” and “a humane, heartbreaking and expertly crafted work of literature.” He is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently, The Wild Delight of Wild Things (2023), The Goodbye World Poem (2023) and The Dead Peasants Handbook (2023), all forthcoming with Alice James Books. His other collections include Here, Bullet to Phantom Noise.  His poems and essays have been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, National Geographic, and Harper’s. Turner was featured in the documentary film Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, which was nominated for an academy award. A Guggenheim Fellow, he has received a USA Hillcrest Fellowship in Literature, the Amy Lowell Traveling Fellowship, the Poets’ Prize, and a fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. 

He earned an MFA from the University of Oregon before serving for seven years in the U.S. Army. Turner was an infantry team leader for a year in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade combat team, 2nd infantry division. Prior to that, he deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina with the 10th Mountain Division. The lecture is sponsored by the Major Authors Reading Series, Student Engagement, the Peace and Justice Studies program and the Veterans Success Center.

Wednesday, April 26, 3:00 p.m., Miguel 311 (Rodriguez Room)

Iraq: two decades of pain, loss and destruction. To what end?

Presentation by Dr. Thomas Hill, Ph.D., clinical professor at the Center for Global Affairs at the NYU School of Professional Studies and Director of the Peace Research and Education Program

A peacebuilding practitioner and researcher, Hill will discuss his peacebuilding and education-focused projects in Iraq, which he has worked on for more than 20 years. He leads "Strengthening Academic Institutions and Cultures” at the University of Fallujah, with support from the International Research and Exchange Board, through the U.S. Department of State. The presentation is sponsored by the Peace and Justice Studies program,  International Studies, Political Science and Sociology departments.

For more information regarding these events, contact Nuwan Jayawickreme, Ph.D., Director of Peace and Justice Studies, at