On Thursday, November 17, 2016, the Foreign Policy Research Institute will present its 12th Annual Benjamin Franklin Award to critically acclaimed writer Kanan Makiya at its 2016 Annual Dinner, co-chaired by Marina Kats, Ronald J. Naples, and the Hon. Dov S. Zakheim.
Kanan Makiya, Credit Ashley Gilbertson
Makiya will present a keynote address on Beyond Dysfunction and Devastation: Iraq, The Arab Spring and Lessons for Today on the occasion of the publication of his new novel The Rope. It is both a murder mystery and a poignant story of a militia man, his closest friends, and family – all working at cross-purposes after the invasion of Iraq. The book illuminates what went wrong in a way that nonfiction is ill-equipped to do. He will also explore what went wrong in the Arab Spring and what the lessons are for all of us today. Guests at the Dinner will receive a complimentary copy of the book.
Born in Baghdad, Makiya has been described as the Arab world’s “Solzhenitsyn” for courageously bearing witness to unspeakable cruelty. In 1989, he published his first book Republic of Fear, under the pseudonym Samir al-Kahlil, exposing the personality cult surrounding the bizarre rule of Saddam Hussein. In 1994, under his real name, Makiya released Cruelty and Silence: War, Tyranny, Uprising, and the Arab World, which denounced those in the Middle East who failed to speak out loud the unpalatable truths about widespread repression.
Kanan describes The Rope as an apology in a way, saying in an interview withNPR’s Robert Seigel that “I wanted to underline the failure of the Iraqi elite, and our responsibility for that failure. I want Iraqis to look at themselves and say, this is not all the fault of ISIS, or this is not all the fault of al-Qaida. I am responsible for why this thing went as bad as it did. And I’m trying to break out of the sectarian divide, and morass, if you like, that has governed the way people talk about politics … my English readers, I want to understand that it went wrong, and who I hold responsible for why it went wrong — including myself.”
In 2003, Makiya founded the Iraq Memory Foundation, an NGO based in Baghdad and the US, dedicated to issues of remembrance, violence, and identity formation. The foundation has collected and digitized nearly 10 million pages of Ba’th era documents. These files, stored at the Hoover Institution have been mined by many scholars, including our own Robert A. Fox Fellow Samuel Helfont to uncover a greater understanding of the Saddam era.
Makiya’s many essays have appeared in the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and many more. His books have been translated in many languages including Arabic, French, Turkish and Spanish. He has also collaborated on the production of several films – one aired on Frontline under the title “Saddam’s Killing Fields” which won the Edward R. Morrow Award for Best Television Documentary on Foreign Affairs in 1992.
Makiya is currently the Sylvia K. Hassenfeld Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University.
Seats at the 2016 Annual Dinner are guaranteed to FPRI Partners. To reserve seats today, become a partner of FPRI. Individual tickets will be available to purchase on a first-come, first-serve basis in the fall. For more information on becoming a partner of FPRI, please contact Payton Windell at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (215) 732-3774 ext. 122.