Decision-making to resolve the war in Iraq
|School||Foreign Service Institute|
|Keywords||Iraq War Levels of Analysis Foreign Decision-Making Neo-conservatism Accidental Factor|
Combining the perspectives of international relations theories and foreign decision-making, this dissertation analyzes the factors that affected the U.S. government to commence the Iraq War. Relevant factors may be categorized into four areas, which have influenced the decision-making process: the international system, the U.S. national security strategy, the U.S. internal trend of political thought and the opinion of decision-makers of the U.S.Looking at the international system, the US is in a unique situation of uni-polar character as there is no counter-balance power to the U.S. in the world. This factor has stimulated the U.S. to do what it wants.The U.S. national security strategy, after more than ten years of evolution, at the end of Clinton administration and the beginning of Bush administration, has been greatly shaped by the fact that the U.S. preliminarily took China and Russia as its strategic competitors with China being regarded as the larger one.The third relevant area of analysis is the internal trend of political thought in the U.S. At the second half of the 1990s Neo-conservatism resurrected, and many Neo-conservatives took the opportunity of Bush’s success in the Presidential election to become part of the administration with an intention to expand their strength and influence.From the level of the decision-makers, this dissertation analyzes the inter-relations of various powers within the Bush administration. The alliance of old and neo-conservatives controlled the foreign decision-making process and resulting in the isolation of the moderate conservatives. Although Bush did not have too much diplomatic experience, his unique characteristics and religious belief greatly influenced his decision taken in foreign affairs.In addition to these four areas of influence , the 9/11 terrorist attacks must be factored into any analysis as an accidental factor, which resulted in changing the presidency and worldview of Bush as well as the psychology of the U.S. public. It also affected partisan politics, granted neo-conservatives more power and finally altered the direction of the U.S. national security strategy. As a result, the Middle East has become the focus of the global strategy of the U.S. and at the instigation of the neo-conservatives President Bush waged the Iraq War.Though the U.S. has won the war, it has not won the peace. It has been dogged in Iraq and its strategy of democratizing the Middle East has suffered defeat. The neo-conservatives were blamed for the troubles faced by the U.S. and were driven out of the administration. The foreign policies of Bush administration are in the process of returning to realism.The author contends that in a nearly uni-polar international system, the internal trend of political thought and decision makers of the hegemony have the largest impact on foreign decision-making. Meanwhile, accidental factors, like 9/ll, also contributed greatly to the decision-making.