Alumni Author Book Talk: Katherine Harvey, SAIS '11 with Bill Kirst, A&S '00

Alumni Author Book Talk

Join alumni Katherine “Kitty” Harvey, SAIS, ‘11 for a discussion of her investigative and thought provoking book A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Saudi Struggle for Iraq (Oxford University Press, 2022) describing how Saudi efforts to undermine Iranian influence paradoxically pushed Iraq into the Islamic Republic’s arms. This book talk and Q&A will be moderated by fellow alum, Bill Kirst, A&S ‘00, Change & Enablement Leader @ Microsoft, Storyteller, and Podcast Host of "Coffee & Change."

"A major contribution to the literature regarding Saudi Arabia’s relations with Iraq in the period following the 2003 U.S. invasion. Deploying multiple tools of social science, Harvey meticulously explores the mindset of Saudi King Abdullah toward Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki." — Robert W. Jordan, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia

To purchase Harvey's book or for more information, visit Hurst PublishingAmazon, or other book sellers.

A zoom link will be sent to all registrants prior to the webinar.


About this Book

In recent years, the geopolitical rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran has dominated the headlines. Many have charted the polarization between a Saudi-led Sunni camp and an Iranian-led Shia one, assuming that a predominantly Shia state like Iraq would automatically ally with Iran. In this compelling account, Katherine Harvey tells a different story: Iraq’s alignment with Iran was not a foregone conclusion. Rather, Saudi efforts to undermine Iran have paradoxically empowered it.

Harvey investigates why the Saudis refused to engage with Iraq’s post-2003 Shia-led government, despite continual outreach by Iraq’s new leaders and considerable pressure from the United States. She finds that certain deeply ingrained assumptions predisposed Saudi leaders to see a Shia-led Iraq as naturally beholden to Iran: the view that Iran is inherently expansionist, and the belief that Arab Shia tend to be loyal to it. This outlook was simplistic, even downright inaccurate; and, in refusing to engage, the Saudis created a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As Harvey demonstrates, members of Iraq’s new government initially sought to establish a positive relationship with Saudi Arabia, and to pursue a course independent from Iran. But, isolated and rejected by Saudi King Abdullah, Iraq ultimately had nowhere else to turn.


Disclaimer: The perspectives and opinions expressed by the speaker(s) during this program are those of the speaker(s) and not, necessarily, those of Johns Hopkins University and the scheduling of any speaker at an alumni event or program does not constitute the University’s endorsement of the speaker’s perspectives and opinions.

ABOUT Katherine "Kitty" Harvey, SAIS '11
Adjunct Professor and Author

Katherine Harvey is an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, where she teaches classes on military strategy and Persian Gulf security.  She holds a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies from King’s College London, and is the author of A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Saudi Struggle for Iraq (Oxford University Press, 2022), which looks at relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia in the years after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  Her other writing on the Middle East has appeared in The Washington Post, Lawfare, Brookings Order from Chaos, and other publications.  She is a U.S. Navy veteran, having served as an intelligence officer aboard USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship, as well as ashore in the Middle East and Europe.  A graduate of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Katherine is now a member of the SAIS Board of Advisers.

ABOUT Bill Kirst, A&S '00
Change & Enablement Leader @ Microsoft, Storyteller, Podcast Host "Coffee & Change"

As a change management expert, Bill Kirst leads organizations through change with compassion and care. He has worked across a breadth of industries and has helped dozens of clients achieve transformational goals.

Bill’s passion for creativity and innovation runs over into his podcast, Coffee & Change, where his guests share insights on managing change in their daily lives. He’s a creative writer, a storyteller, and a polyglot, having studied six languages during his international travels. He currently resides in Seattle and alongside his work focuses on wellness and mindfulness in his daily life. Bill is a U.S. Army veteran having served 10 years as a reserve officer in the United States Army. Bill is actively involved in numerous veterans’ programs working with minority veterans and those dealing with PTS. He has a bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s degree from Georgetown.

Bill values giving back and to investing in the next generation of leaders and diverse voices. He sits on the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Council & Board and is also a member of the Association of Change Management Professionals.

 Event Date
Friday, February 10, 2023
Start Time: 1:00pm EST
End Time: 2:00pm EST


Virtual via Zoom
Baltimore, MD 21211

Office of Alumni Relations - Lifelong Learning
Erin Jakowski
Sr. Associate Director Alumni Relations

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