The most recent discussion on war focuses on the United States invasion in Iraq. The two nations were in conflict since the Bush administration had waged war on Iraq. The change of government in America led to the change in opinion concerning the war, and in 2011, Obama recalled all troops in Iraq. The war between Iraq and America has several interpretations and the aim of this paper is to analyse these explanations of the conflict. Different theories have been put forward to explain the reasons behind the war citing realism, liberalism, personal ideologies, and peer influence.
The 2003 attack of Iraqi terrorists has become the longest, largest, and most expensive for America since the Vietnam War. In the United States history, this is the first significant post-Cold War U.S. military action. This is apart from an international organization and viewing the U.S. as an occupying authority in the Middle East. As much as most scholars term the invasion as unprecedented, the principal question is that the Iraq incursion is not sui generis. This assumption is in regards to the extensive American military involvement in the Muslim or Arab nation. In 2011, the current president of the United States, Barrack Obama, declared an end to the war in Iraq and the removal of U.S. troops from the region. This paper analyses the reasons behind the America-Iraq war. The paper uses varied model theories as a background for explaining the reasons behind the war. The paper also provides information regarding the historical and theoretical background to the conflict together with possible outcomes of the war.
The Historical Background to the Conflict
The Iraqi war was launched in March 19, 2003, and it started with a strike against a location, where the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, and his top lieutenants, were holding a meeting. This marked the start of war that was to last for the following eight years. Prior to the attack, the then president of the United States, Bush, had given Saddam an ultimatum to exit the country facing a military conflict. Sending the U.S. troops to Iraq met resistance, but by April 14, the U.S. managed to bring all Iraqi people under their control. There were several allegations towards Iraq concerning weapons of mass destruction, and by September 2001, these allegations increased. The Bush administration named Iran, Iraq, and North Korea the focal points of evil and terrorism.
Ideological and non-rational influences consider motives for the war as non-rational psychological processes of individual decision-makers and core decision-making groups. The history of the Iraq-U.S. war dates back to ideologically constricted attitudes of the political elite. This was the Bush’s war and not the U.S. war, because based on the leader’s psychology other leaders in a similar position would have taken a different path. The war decision appears to be principally Bush’s personal psychological decision, or of his philosophical influences and of his key advisors. On a similar note, Bush had deep devotion to the Israeli cause, and this could be a historical reason for the war against Iraq, the nation of the Muslim religion. In relation to Bush’s visit to the Holy Land in 1998, the studies link Bush’s Christian faith with the fate of the Israeli people in a deeply individual way. Bush’s own Christian philosophy and that of other leaders in his administration may have made them more sympathetic to the notions of the administration’s pro-Likud Zionists. Based on individual motives, Bush in fact considered his family unit to be involved in an awful competition with Saddam Hussein. Explanations that Bush viewed the war on personal grounds include his belief that in 1993 Hussein attempted to assassinate Bush’s father and inflict the death of his wife, Laura. Historically, observers link gender aspect to the war. To understand the conflict between Iraq and the United States, the paper analyses the life of Saddam Hussein, the then president of Iraq (Clarke, 2004).
The Rise of Saddam Hussein
History records indicate April 28, 1937 as the birth date of Saddam Hussein, who got married in 1963 and had five children. Following his academic background in law, Saddam’s political career started with joining the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party in 1956. Since his days at secondary school, Saddam was involved in varied political activities and was arrested, sentenced, and even convicted of murder. This did not deter him from pursuing his political career and on July 16, 1979, he became the secretary general of the Regional Leadership of the Ba’ath Party and the president of the Republic of Iraq (Bueno de Mesquita, 2002). As the president of Iraq, Saddam was actively in charge of modernization of the Iraqi economy. He intensively urged the development of various industries in Iraq together with the mechanization of agriculture and distribution of land among farmers. The education and transport field also benefited from the regime of Saddam Hussein. The most notable move under Saddam’s reign was the confrontation with aggression launched by thirty-three countries that waged war against Iraq. Saddam occupied a leadership position, when Iraq objected to the U.S. invasion, insisting on the country’s autonomy and political system.
Prior to the United States invasion, Saddam had waged war against Iran in 1980. The war lasted eight years, and Saddam led war in an effort to destroy Shiite fundamentalist Muslims, who were a threat to his dictatorship. The war was especially brutal and repressive, when the Iraqi minority Kurds, were drenched in poison gas for supporting the Iranians. The Iraq-Iran war ended in 1988 with Iraq claiming victory. Hussein continued to expand his security apparatus and army, which was a foundation of several governmental agencies to have power over the citizens of Iraq. To gain ground in every homestead in Iraq, the army employed at least one person from every family, and this ensured Saddam’s dominance over the nation.
After the Iran war, Saddam made another attack on Kuwait caused by a conflict about oil prices and political management of the Persian Gulf. This took place in the summer of 1990, and it was followed by subsequent United Nation Resolutions and U.S. intervention in defence of Kuwait. Neighbouring countries, such as Saudi Arabia, were on Kuwait’s side during the war. Several people link the Iraqi invasion in Kuwait as the basis of the USA-Iraq war.
Reasons behind the U.S.-Iraq War
According to historical records on Saddam Hussein, his regime was brutal and oppressive. Considering liberalism aspects of the war, President Bush waged war against Iraq in an effort to end the brutal regime of Saddam. Saddam's rule was responsible for suffering and deaths of many people. Here, decisions to wage war derive from states’ internal characteristics, predominantly the Iraq’s government and the impact of international law. In addition to terminating the brutal regime, the war decision was justified by Bush by Iraq’s alleged possession of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Liberalism explains the invasion as a way of liberating the Iraqi people, because more democracy leads to more peace. Peace comes to people, who do not fight against each other, and this was not the case in Iraq. Saddam’s dictatorship rule divided the nation and, therefore, the United States aimed to replace that dictatorship with democracy. In this case, the America’s motive in the Iraq war was to propagate democracy and human rights (Bueno de Mesquita, 2002). America’s foremost concern was that Saddam could be channelling nuclear weapons to al-Qaeda operatives, which had become a threat to the entire world. This was an indication of Iraq’s support of terrorism activities of the al-Qaeda group. Further investigations into the matter indicate that America waged war against Iraq because of the notion that the country was in possession of mass destruction weapons, which could also fall into the hands of al-Qaeda. President Bush made this claim be almost certain when presenting his decision for the war on Iraq to the Americans. For this purpose, the decision to wage war may be understood as the government’s apprehension that Iraq would deceive weapon inspectors and secretly develop or deploy weapons for an attack on the United States or its allies.
The Americans felt that the president lied to them regarding the war on Iraq, or he might have acted on inconclusive reports from his advisors. The debate raged on to indicate that Bush failed to question the origin of claims that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. During months and years of the war in Iraq, no weapons of mass destruction were recovered, and slowly the objectives of the war began to change. As much as the president linked Saddam to terrorism activities, there was no practical evidence of this notion, since the U.S. soldier never came up with the alleged weapons of mass destruction. The government seemed to have overlooked the main reason behind the war, because by December 2007, there were more than 154,000 American soldiers in search of weapons in Iraq. Contrary arguments on liberalism question principles of democracy and freedom of the United States. People questioned the motive of the war, and if it was to liberate people, then why to target at Iraq only, since other nations in the Middle East were also victims of dictatorship. Besides, liberalism indicates that the invasion worked out, because Iraq was not a democratic country, which made it easier for the United States to invade. Mature democracies were never engaged in fights with each other and the difference in regime types of the two nations played a significant role in the start of the war. Iraq had a dictatorship regime, while the USA had a democratic one. Following the 9/11 attacks on the USA, the Bush administration augmented the security rationale for forcibly deploying democracy in the Middle East. These 9/11 hits carried out by nationals of non-democratic nations in the Middle East provided a new and compelling incentive for the USA to apply its power to foster democracy (Bueno de Mesquita, 2002).
The most common reason for the Iraq-USA war was oil and terrorism. According to realist analysts of the war, Iraq had unsurpassed oil resources that could be potentially deployed against America’s interests. Military bases in Iraq would enable America to project its power further in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. In addition, this could be instrumental in replacing less secure bases, which the United States had established in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War in 1999. The American government linked terrorist groups, such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda with Iraq. People of Muslim origin were thought to normally carry out terrorism activities, and these seemed to be the population of Iraq (Clarke, 2004). Moreover, there were rumours of Iraq being in possession of WMD, which could easily get in the hands of al-Qaeda and Taliban. Quickly, the American government made a move to wage war on Iraq in an effort to cast out weapons. In addition, President Bush aimed at exposing terrorism links between al-Qaeda and Iraq. This seemed to be a reasonable explanation of the war, but years down the line there were no achievements, and U.S. troops remained in Iraq. The motive of the war was to destroy Saddam’s rule and push him from power.
A prominent United States justification for ending Saddam’s repressive dictatorship was to protect human rights and alleviate Iraqi’s suffering. Bush reportedly became aware of Iraqi inhuman treatment, and such reports made him morally realize that it was essential to make the invasion decision. In view of the fact that America is non-interventionist democracy, decision-makers find it hard to appeal for public support of wars in liberal grounds. This is so even when such motives are of little relevance. In accordance with the USA-Iraq war, decision-makers were genuinely motivated by liberal objectives, the accomplishment of which justified the use of laissez-faire means.
Realism within the Iraqi War
The main masterminds, who created the U.S.-Iraq war, believed they could do away with the old order and bring into existence a new one in Iraq. The new Iraq would be broad-minded, egalitarian and aligned with the United States. Realism as a war theory refuses to identify moral aspirations of a country with moral laws that preside over the universe. According to this theory, states in a constant struggle for power take security as the highest priority. In addition, anarchy is considered as a valid need to perpetuate this power through armaments and defence mechanisms. The United States exploited the realism theory in relation to the Iraq invasion, since there were false claims over the security of the Middle East region. Through the aspect of realism, America increased its national interests in the Middle East. This meant that declaring publicly the change in the Iraqi regime as the United States priority of the war, it would seem a weaker party. Therefore, Bush had to uphold the reputation of his country by citing the willingness to apply force in the process of attaining regime change. This would undoubtedly make the war seem inevitable, because of the national security interest in protecting the reputation. The main reason for the nation hiding under the cover of realism was that the Bush administration could go down history books as promoters of democracy in the Middle East, especially in Iraq (Bamford, 2004).
The realism approach to the war was marked by the reputational motive, which explained the United States targeting at Iraq and not at such countries as Iran, North Korea, or Libya. The other three countries were America’s enemies and could equally be in possession of more advanced weapons of mass destruction. In order for the U.S. to work with its reputational motive, the target had to be Iraq, because the other countries had more advanced weaponry. Another notable supporting idea concerning the reputational motive was Iraq’s continued refusal for United Nations weapons inspection. Under pressure from different entities, Iraq allowed international inspection in 2002. Surprisingly, the United States was against this move, which made the whole idea of the war confusing. However, if the U.S. intention was mainly to enhance its reputation for willingness to apply force unilaterally, then forestalling completion of the United Nations inspection could be explained by the rational calculation of security interests. This is especially so in light of post 9/11 concerns about the appearance of the United States as a vulnerable country. In addition, the realism theory of war pointed out at Iraq’s geostrategic location that impinged on multiple security concerns of the United States. It was almost certain that the U.S. invasion was a rational means for America to attain its most fundamental objectives of demonstrating power to its competitors and allies. Moreover, the invasion was aimed at ensuring that Iraq did not use its weapons of mass destruction and oil resources to threaten the USA or any other country, which were not in favour of their actions (Clarke, 2004).
Implications of the USA-Iraq War
America’s decision to invade in Iraq on the grounds of oil, and terrorism, and to liberate the people of Iraq, had several implications in the whole world, Iraq, and the USA in particular. Interpretations focusing on the political elite’s manipulation of the war for their political and financial benefits were one of the reasons of the war. This was a clear indication of the flaws in the Bush administration, as it was later evident that Bush went to war for the sake of administration’s adherent objectives. The war in Iraq was extremely costly, since the USA spent billions of dollars to upkeep the war and military. Unfortunately, the war costs were a burden that ordinary citizens bared in the form of the increased taxes. This made the American people be against the Iraqi war and rate the Bush administration as uncompetitive and ineffective (Powers, 2004). This outcome had an impact on the voting trend among the American people, as they did not give power to leaders, who went to war unnecessarily. The future engagement of the country in war meant that people catered for the costs of the war, which were not a motivating factor for the war. In relation to the Iraq-USA war, structural checks of the war executive powers were ineffective because of the failure of the mainstream media. The media failed in the role of a watchdog, because the Congress failed to question the executive’s claim of a dire threat on the part of Iraq. Moreover, no one dared question the administration’s use of insufficient spending, and the evasion of universal mobilization misled the public on the war costs (Powers, 2004).
Since the USA has lost focus on its main objective of the Iraqi invasion, it is conclusive that the USA will continue to prioritize the removal of non-democracies that it considers a threat and hostile. By the time Obama called for the removal of military troops in Iraq, no WMD had been found in Iraq, which meant that the war was not beneficial. People questioned the motive of the war and felt cheated by the Bush administration, because Iraq did not seem to have the alleged weapons of mass destruction. If predictive perspectives of liberal theories are right, the successful democratization of Iraq will affect neighbouring nations. However, the failure of the USA to restore democracy in Iraq will cause a hostile response against egalitarianism in the region and elsewhere. The failure of the war in Iraq means that the USA will never have the capacity to take part in a nuclear war against non-democracies (Clarke, 2004).
Each analytic aspect explored in the above discussion, namely realism, ideological influences, liberalism, and personal and social psychology, can account for pertinent portion of the Iraq invasion. In my opinion, the liberalism perspective of the war seemed relevant through out the war period; since it was evident that the Saddam regime was a brutal and cruel one. On the other hand, considering the invasion decision in light of a variety of theories also provides an opportunity to find links among them. In addition, events before and after launching the war on Iraq help to understand motives behind the war and choose a suitable theory of war. The invasion decision raises the question of when and why democratic administrations choose to wage wars. Realism links the initiation of war to the nation’s hegemonic status being at risk, while liberalism suggests that it is linked with promoting democracy.