Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quick Look at Iraq War From an Individual Level Analysis

This is just a tid-bit from a recent class discussion. The thought is not fully developed.  You are welcome to develop it further.

Looking at the Gulf War(s) from an individual level analysis there are two stand-out players. In the first Gulf War it was Saddam Hussein against George Bush. In the second Gulf War, which was more correctly a war in Iraq, it was Saddam Hussein against George Bush. Any similarity? Well, yes and no. The Bushes were obviously different, and although there are theories about the second Bush having sought revenge for the first, I tend to think those arguments are tantamount to conspiracy theories. But, in both situations the pervasive thought was what John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt discuss in their 2003 Foreign Policy essay as (2003), "Saddam must be toppled because he cannot be deterred from using weapons of mass destruction (WMD)" (p.52). This was certainly the case in the second Gulf War, or Iraqi Freedom.

Although the Bush administration (W not HW) tried to craft a comprehensive policy against Iraq, the reality of the policy was that the U.S. was going to prevent his use of WMD. At the time it was a plausible reason to pursue Saddam and his regime because Saddam's history suggested he "is a warped human being who might use WMD without regard for the consequences" as Mearsheimer and Walt explain. The threat at the time was easily sold to the public, and in 2003 we attacked Iraq. Much good and much bad has come of Iraq since. One thing that has not come, however, are any relevant WMDs.

Mearsheimer, J. J., & Walt, S. M. (2003, January/February). An unnecessary war. Foreign Policy , pp. 50-59