Samuel Helfont, PhD


Samuel Helfont is an Assistant Professor of Strategy and Policy in the Naval War College program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is also an Affiliate Scholar in the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University and a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. His research focuses on international history and politics in the Middle East, especially Iraq and the Iraq Wars. He is the author of Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam, and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq (Oxford University Press, 2018). His work has been published by Foreign Affairs, The Middle East Journal, Orbis, The New Republic, The American Interest, War on the Rocks, The Jewish Review of Books, and the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University among several other outlets.

Helfont holds a PhD and MA in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University. Prior to moving to Monterey, he completed a three year post-doctoral lectureship at the University of Pennsylvania. He has also served as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Haverford College, and was the recipient of US Scholar Research Support Fellowship from the Hoover Library and Archives at Stanford University.

Oxford University Press, 2018

Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam, and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq


"Samuel Helfont has provided us with groundbreaking insights into the way Saddam Hussein's Ba'th Party used Islam to control the Iraqi population during his dictatorship-and how the abrupt removal of that control influenced the insurgencies that erupted in the wake of the American invasion in 2003. Most importantly, this book illuminates why those insurgencies were so virulent, and how the wake of Saddam Hussein's use of Islamic institutions to control the Iraqi population will continue to ignite conflict in the Middle East for generations to come."

--John Nagl, Lieutenant Colonel, USA (Retired), and author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam

"Samuel Helfont tackles an important subject that is significant not only for its historical aspects but also for its relevance to current affairs given the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and ISIL. He has tapped the Iraqi archives, providing a real contribution to the literature on Iraq's history and issues related to current politics."

--Joseph Sassoon, Associate Professor and al-Sabah Chair in Politics and Political Economy of the Arab World at Georgetown University.