Free «Causes of the 2003 Iraq War» Essay
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The reasons for the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 is the question that disturbs minds of many people, not only from America, but also from the entire world. It is impossible to deny that there are many conflicting views to the reasons that motivated the US to invade Iraq. In fact, the Iraq War remains one of the most significant events that have happened so far in the 21st Century (Fordham, 2016). The US invasion of Iraq garnered much praise and criticism in equal measure, yet the US government did not have any apologies to make over its move to attack Iraq. Many people chose to focus on whether the move was justified or not, putting little effort in trying to understand the root cause of the war. Undeniably, the 9th September 2001 terror attack (henceforth referred to as the 9/11 attack) laid the foundation for the US invasion of Iraq (Ritter & Pitt, 2002). However, that was not the only reason for the attack on Iraq; it culminated from several other interrelated activities that had been present long before 9/11 which are critical to examine. Among other reasons, the invasion was triggered by Iraq’s support of terrorism, their possession and manufacture of weapons of mass destruction, the desire of the US to compel Iraq to embrace democracy, and the American reaffirmation of its militaristic superiority.
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Timelines of the Iraq War
The Iraq War or the Second Gulf War is divisible into two phases. The first phase was quite short since it lasted for only few months and it started in spring 2003. On 20 March at exactly 5:34 am, the coalition forces (consisting of armies from the US and her allies, especially the United Kingdom) embarked on the invasion of Iraq in what they termed as the Iraqi Freedom Operation (Ritter & Pitt, 2002). The US considered the invasion a success since it resulted in the defeat of the Iraq army and the consequent collapse of Saddam Hussein’s government. Moreover, the coalition forces were able to capture Iraq’s major cities. By 1 May upon the direction of President Bush the US army ended the major combat. The capture of Saddam Hussein followed on 13 December 2003 (Schwartz, 2016). While most Iraqis were happy with his arrest, the citizens were wary of the US-led occupation of the country. The US occupation of Iraq resulted in increased insurgency which paved way for the second phase of the war (2004-2011). The second phase of the war was slightly longer and it resulted in far-reaching negative consequences to the country.
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During the second phase, the United States occupied Iraq with the intention to ensure a smooth transition of power from the interim to the elected government. However, citizens of the country struggled against the occupation which led to increased insurgency in 2004-2007 (Roussel, 2007). Another highlight of the second phase of the war was the trial of Saddam Hussein who was charged with crimes against humanity which followed his execution in 2006. Following several years of an active military situation in the country, 2007 saw declines in violent activities caused by the militia troops. Within the next year the situation in Iraq seemed stable, and so, in 2009, the United States began to reduce its military forces in Iraq (Schwartz, 2016). Finally, in 2011, the US forces left Iraq. Existing records show that the war resulted in massive losses both on the American and Iraqi sides, including casualties among Iraq citizens and military personnel. The United States also incurred significant financial costs in sustaining the war (Fordham, 2016). Despite the Iraq War coming to an end, over the past few years most people continue disputing over the real causes of the US invasion of Iraq.
Causes of the Iraq Invasion
One of the main reasons for the US invasion of Iraq is the suspicion that Iraq was a state sponsor of terrorism activities. The 9/11 terror attack on the American soil awakened the reality of the threats posed by international terrorism upon which President George W. Bush declared the global War on Terror (Roussel, 2007). While The War on Terror mostly targeted the Al-Qaeda, the organization believed to be the masterminds of the 9/11 attack and the attacks on the US embassies located in Africa, it also targeted any country that engaged in the training, supporting, and equipping of the terror groups. Iraq had all along been facing accusations of harboring terrorists from Iran, Pakistan, and other neighboring countries (Schwartz, 2016). Based on the reliable testimonies given to the United States National Commission on Terrorist Attacks (9/11 Commission) formed after the 9/11 events, it clearly emerged that Iraq actively supported terrorist groups by providing them with hideouts, training, arms, and financial support for terror attacks (Fordham, 2016). Moreover, there were accusations that the Iraqi forces greatly supported Al-Qaeda and helped them prepare the 9/11 attacks (Ritter & Pitt, 2002). For that reason, Iraq became a prime target perceived to support terror and thereby threatening the peace of the world.
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Apart from the links to terrorist organizations, the invasion on Iraq also arose from the suspicions that not only it possessed the weapons of mass destruction, but it also engaged in their manufacture. Considering the prelude to the war, the new president of the USA, George W. Bush, established the US strategy during the State of the Union address in 2002, in which he asserted that the American intelligence had investigated and found that Iraq was producing nuclear weapons (Fordham, 2016). Although Iraq denied such accusations, historical proofs of its association with weapons of mass destruction (including the chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons) worked against them. For example, in 1981, Israel had launched attacks on Iraq on suspicions that the latter were building a nuclear weapon to attack Israel (Ritter & Pitt, 2002). However, Iraq maintained that although it was building the nuclear reactor, it was just meant for experimentation. Moreover, in 1983, Iraq engaged in war with Iran during which time they used nuclear weapons (Schwartz, 2016). In 1991, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) enacted a law that aimed to compel Iraq to eliminate its presumed stocks of weapons of mass destruction and the means to manufacture them (Ritter & Pitt, 2002). However, efforts to establish whether Iraq had complied were futile since the country hampered all efforts by the United Nations to inspect whether they had destroyed all the weapons (Fordham, 2016). Over the years, there were fears that Iraq’s possession of the nuclear weapons could continue to undermine the world peace.
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The US invasion laid its foundations on Iraq’s long history of possessing and engaging in the manufacture of dangerous weapons. Throughout the 1990s and into the millennium, suspicions about Iraq still manufacturing even more dangerous weapons continued. Those accusations were worrying since in 1998 the US army (under the instructions of President Bill Clinton) had organized a four day air campaign (dubbed Desert Fox) whereby they struck the Iraq bases believed to produce, store, and distribute the dangerous weapons of mass destruction (Roussel, 2007). Despite such efforts of the US, in 2002, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) raised more fears that Iraq was still in possession of the weapons of mass destruction and despite the inspections aimed to retrieve the weapons, they were not found, raising even more fear (Schwartz, 2016). Based on that knowledge, the US legitimized its invasion of Iraq using the fact that the latter could at some point decide to use the weapons to cause even greater destructions and casualties (Ritter & Pitt, 2002). Based on that knowledge one cannot help but feel that the main priority for the United States government invasion was to disarm Iraq and, consequently, participate in the downfall of the ruling regime.
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Establishment of Democracy
Another reason for the US invasion of Iraq is connected to Saddam Hussein’s arrest, the abolition of his regime, and introduction of democracy to the country. President Bush and his administration wanted Iraq to follow democracy principles and end the tradition of dictatorship which was rampant in the Middle East countries including Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Pakistan among others. President Bush often referred to Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries that did not value democracy as to the “Axis of Evil” (Schwartz, 2016). The ongoing authoritarian rule propagated by Saddam Hussein and his Baath party was extremely hard to control due to many reported cases of human rights abuses towards dissenting citizens. Iraq had some of the worst human rights abuses and it was a matter of concern for Bush since he felt that every government should provide an environment in which each individual would have the chance to lead a decent life, yet the ruling regime in Iraq was in the frontline to abuse its citizens (Fordham, 2016). For that reason, the US administration felt that it was obligatory to replace the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein and his Baathist regime with democracy.
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President Bush and his administration reasoned that if Iraq became a democratic state, it would set an example to other countries in the Middle East. The implication was that the Bush administration hoped that the attack on Iraq would produce a domino effect, which meant that citizens in other Middle East states that experienced hostile regimes would start demanding the same democratic freedoms enjoyed by the liberated people of Iraq (Ritter & Pitt, 2002). Consequently, the era of hostile authoritarian regimes would come to an end, replaced by friendly chosen governments that were not only democratic, but also pro-American, which would ensure that the Middle East citizens enjoy a stable, peaceful, and secure life (Christopher, 2005). President Bush felt that encouraging the countries in the Middle East to embrace democratic principles would signify major victory in the War on Terror since there would no longer be militia activities in these countries. However, the attempted democratization of Iraq and other Middle East states proved futile and for that reason political instability continues to thrive (Roussel, 2007). Still, after the Iraq invasion, many citizens obtained a chance to enjoy more rights including their ability to vote which meant that the American dominance in influencing foreign affairs became even more pronounced.
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Geopolitical Goals of the US
On that note, the fourth reason that exemplifies the invasion of Iraq is the desire of the US to reaffirm its position as a super power. Following the 9/11 terror attack, most Americans almost had lost trust in the Bush administration, yet President Bush had just begun his term (Schwartz, 2016). The fact that every government has the obligation to protect its citizens is undisputable. Thus, having been unable to prevent the 9/11 attack, President Bush knew that he had to redeem the image of America by demonstrating a tough approach to terrorism (Schwartz, 2016). The assertion is that President Bush aimed to erase any manifestation of weakness, so that the rest of the world would realize that the US was capable of using force as an option to maintain peace and security for their country. Due to its links with the terrorists and its possession and manufacture of nuclear weapons, Iraq seemed as the most visible enemy (Christopher, 2005). That is why the US targeted Iraq with the intention to send a message to other possible terrorist states, warning them not to disrupt the stability of the US and also of the whole world.
In other words, the administration of President Bush was sending a message that the US military was still the most powerful in the word. One can presume the provocation by Iraq through their links to the terrorists provided an alibi for the US to reiterate their global power and authority (Roussel, 2007). Moreover, the fact that Iraq was highly suspected of being in possession of the weapons of mass destruction, the Bush administration knew that failure to act would result in further global catastrophes as the weapons could be used for further terror actions, thereby undermining peace in the whole world (Schwartz, 2016).
In conclusion, it emerges that 2003 US invasion of Iraq was a result of various interrelated factors, including Iraq’s support of terrorism and terror related activities, their manufacture and possession of nuclear weapons, the US desire to compel Iraq to embrace democracy, and the America’s reaffirmation of its position as the world superpower. The Bush administration accused Iraq of harboring and sympathizing with the Al-Qaeda terror group that was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and other attacks in American embassies in African countries. Further, Iraq manufactured the weapons of mass destruction and even used it to terrorize its neighbors and the citizens. Furthermore, the Bush administration hoped that toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime would result in the rise of democracy not only in Iraq, but also in the entire Middle East region. To summarize, another reason for the US invasion of Iraq was the need for the America to reaffirm itself as the dominant superpower. The Bush administration felt the threat of terrorism had undermined its superiority and, hence, the need to teach a lesson to Iraq and other nations that supported terror activities at whatever level emerged. Overall, understanding the causes of the US invasion of Iraq is critical in shedding light on what really pushed the US to the extent of imposing war on Iraq regardless of the financial and humanitarian costs involved.