This article from USNews takes a look at the psychological effects of living for years under a totalitarian regime -- based on the views of Professor Erwin Staub's research into the social aftermath of atrocities in places like Rwanda and Kosovo -- positing that a significant portion of the Iraqi population may have suffered from a lasting effect of trauma known as learned helplessness in which a person becomes engulfed in a state of passive fatalism. Viewed in this light, some of the rioting and looting seen in Iraq after the toppling of Saddam's regime may be subject to a different interpretation than those currently circulating in the media (including suggestions that the looting was avoidable, organised, and/or the result of an American conspiracy). From the article:
Staub...points out that Iraqis "have lived for such a long time by strict external controls they haven't been able to develop reasonable internal controls." While some have interpreted the looting as catharsis following a long period of oppression, Staub sees the chaos as something less positive: "When people have significant hope for the future, they don't mess up their life space."