Chapter 1 , Introduction presents the book’s major question and the main argument developed in it: what explains the process through which Iraq and Libya moved from ousting long-lasting dictators to remain plagued by intractable tensions? While other explanations focus on either domestic or international factors, the main argument of the book is that the political, security and economic turmoil that Iraq and Libya have been experiencing following the removal of their regimes can be explained by the contradictions that exist between statebuilding and state formation. The contradictory encounter between statebuilding and state formation gave rise to the trapped states of Iraq and Libya. Within the regional complex of the Middle East and North Africa, the structured focused comparison of Iraq and Libya is based on both domestic (past histories) and international factors (types of international intervention) and concentrates on three fundamental aspects of the state: representation and political authority, security and the monopoly of violence, and wealth creation and distribution. The chapter discusses the methodology and the overall goal of the book before presenting the book’s structure.