Since the American Independence, US Grand strategy has seen dramatic shifts in its contours, scope and direction. In its early years after the union was declared, American Grand strategy was focused on first building the nation and a policy of isolationism and non-interference in the affairs of other nations. This inward looking approach was a result of the nation’s historical experience of being a country built by settlers escaping religious persecution from Continental Europe and the harsh conditions of the land where they were settling.
Americans viewed the fractious wars and conflicts of European countries in the 18th and 19th centuries as their own internal affairs and appreciated that the American continents could do without involvement in European affairs and vice versa. This led to the declaration of the ‘Monroe Doctrine’ that in essence encapsulated a policy that the US would not countenance any interference in the Americas by European powers.
Since those early days of non interference, US Grand strategy evolved considerably to counter first the Nazi threat and then the Soviet threat that gave rise to Cold War dynamics. US Grand strategy then had an ideological basis, which to date forms part of every government white paper on strategy – “To encourage the spread of democracy everywhere”. However, since the end of the Cold War, this ideological basis has undergone fundamental changes with the First Gulf War, the 9/11 attacks and have led to the adoption of unilateralism and pre-emption as the major driver for its foreign policy.
When the US intervened in Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, it was not a unilateral decision. At that time, Saddam Hussein’s actions were deemed to be in direct violation of international law and had the official backing of the United Nations, which through UN Security Council resolution 6601 dated August 2, 1990 called for immediate withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait.
A spate of UN resolutions followed which did not dissuade Saddam Hussein leading to the adoption of UN security council resolution 678 dated November 29 1990 that called on member states under Chapter VII to use force if Iraq did not withdraw from Kuwait. Gulf War I thus was a ‘just’ war which had all the backing of the world community as also formal and legal backing of the UN. The Bush (senior) administration led a successful campaign that achieved the UN set goals of restoring independence to Kuwait, putting strict sanctions on Iraq but did not go any further such as forcing a ‘regime change’ in Iraq.
The Clinton years 1993 to 2001 were marked with certain Iraq specific moves that warned of Saddam Hussein trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction and a call for regime change though Clinton never ever specifically mentioned the use of American forces for such a venture. On the whole, ambiguity in the conduct of foreign policy vis-a-vis Iraq was the hall mark of the Clinton administration where it seemed that the super power had become ‘too soft’ on taking hard measures against recalcitrant regimes. This feeling was reinforced globally after the inglorious retreat of US forces from Somalia which signaled to the world that America had lost its will to fight.
Such indications undoubtedly emboldened Saddam Hussein who continued to violate existing UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions while America looked on. By the time the right wing Republican administration of George W Bush took charge on January 20, 2001, Iraq had stabilized with Saddam Hussein finding ways and means to fund his reconstruction and rearming through the ‘oil for food’ program with collusion from other international actors.
September 11, 2001 changed the contours of US Grand Strategy with the Global War on Terror being declared and an invasion of Afghanistan by US forces to root out the Al Qaeda and the Taliban regime which was responsible for the terrorist attacks. The US invasion of Afghanistan had not been authorized but was admissible under international law of collective self defense. After routing the Taliban and installing a friendly government in Afghanistan, America shifted its focus from Afghanistan to Iraq.
The Iraq Liberation Act and regime change policies of Bill Clinton were revived with full vigor and a new case for invasion of Iraq was made strenuously by the Bush administration culminating in a unilateral decision to invade Iraq in 2003 which succeeded in the immediate war aims but resulted into a disastrous long term imbroglio, to which there seems no satisfactory endgame. US Grand strategy, it seems had lost its way embarking on a string of unilateral actions not fully realizing the significance and cause and effects of such policies on the global geostrategic framework.
This research paper examines US Grand Strategy since the Second World War to date and its War on Terror, to answer why the US invaded Iraq. The hypothesis of this paper posits that the contours of US Grand strategy through the period 1945 to 2009 was predominantly hegemonistic in nature that tended to unilateralism after the end of the Cold war especially during the period 1998- 2009 with the Bush administration’s focus on the War on Terror.
The decision to invade Iraq was a result of a number of complex factors which require examination and significant realignment if America is to regain its geo-political and moral standing in the world. The paper arrives at the conclusions by carrying out a review of US Grand strategy through qualitative and quantitative analysis of policies, writings, statements and white papers of the various US administrations, political actors, strategic thinkers and economic experts.
The importance of this research lies in the fact that the analysis will provide a clear assessment of the directions of US Grand strategy formulation especially its decision to invade Iraq, and also provide recommended ‘course corrections’ to America’s Grand strategy.
The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines strategy as “the science and art of employing the political, economic, psychological, and military forces of a nation or group of nations to afford the maximum support to adopted policies in peace or war”2. Stephen Biddle offers a more holistic nuance to the definition of Grand strategy by stating that it is a strategy that “integrates military, political, and economic means to pursue states’ ultimate objectives in the international system”3.
Since a Grand strategy is an overarching strategy, it contains many strategies which are subsets of the capstone strategy. The operative principles that drive the Grand strategy take their substance from a number of theories and policies, a thorough understanding of which is necessary before an examination of America’s Grand Strategy can be attempted. The important theories and concepts are thus discussed in the succeeding paragraphs.
Imperialism is defined as a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through colonization, use of military force, or other means4. A strategy that helps propagate imperialistic objectives is an imperial strategy. Throughout history, imperial policies have always led to empire building where the imperial power exercised direct control over regions conquered or at times ruled indirectly through vassal states. This is an important feature that defines the operative principles of imperialism.
The First World War marked the end of empires as political entities in the world. The great Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the German Empire and the Russian empire all dissolved in the aftermath of the First World War metamorphosing into geographical boundaries of individual nation states that came into existence as a result of the breakup of those empires. The last truly imperial power was the erstwhile British Empire that dissipated after the First World War and ended by the time the Second World War came to an end.
Extra-regional Hegemony Theory
Extra-regional Hegemony theory is a neo-realist theory that includes systemic and domestic variables for conduct of a Grand strategy5. The US has been resorting to the use of this strategy since the end of the Second World War. The systemic variables included a geostrategic environment wherein a Containment strategy6 of the Soviet Union necessitated a non-imperialistic and benevolent stationing of US troops and military hardware in allied countries supported by domestic stability that ensured availability of sufficient finances due to a vibrant economy that made it possible for the US to commit forces and hardware across the globe.
Balance of Power Theory
In an international system, a balance of power is said to exist when there is parity among nations that leads to stability. It ensures the efforts of nations to prevent the rise of another power that may upset the balance of power. In its most rigorous formulation, balance of power theory is a systems theory of politics that claims to identify structural constraints on the actors and explain the outcomes of their interaction whenever two requirements are met: that the order be anarchic and that it consists of units that wish to survive7. In such a system, a nation may choose to either adopt a balancing8 or a bandwagoning9 strategy for its national interests.
US Grand Strategy down the Ages
A Grand strategy depends to a large extent on a well rounded, comprehensive foreign policy. A foreign policy is a country’s independent strategy or outline of how a sovereign state will deal with the rest of the world or how it will conduct its international affairs; this may encompass such fields as military, economy and politics. General governmental institutions that make foreign policy decisions accounts for the head of the state which is certainly the President or perhaps the leader of the government like the prime minister or the cabinet10.
Since independence, American foreign policy decision making framework has been variously driven either by strong presidential personalities or collegiate processes operating through a dominant National Security Council (NSC), the Department of Defense (DOD) or the State department. Preponderance of each of these styles has been observed in the various Presidential tenures resulting in significant foreign policy successes as well as failures that have had a concomitant effect on US Grand strategy.
Structural Dynamics for Executing a Grand Strategy
The contours of US foreign policymaking strategies were shaped to a large extent by the advantages conferred by geographical isolation of the country, lack of contiguous enemies, absence of historical baggage and the indomitable, independent streak of its early settlers who through their sheer perseverance transformed the vast wilderness of the American lands into an economic, political and military powerhouse unrivalled in the modern era.
The advantages mentioned above allowed a steady evolution of US foreign policy from its early defensive doctrine of non-interference in European Affairs, the Monroe Doctrine, to a policy of Containment during the Cold War, to the policy of Unilateralism11 and Preemption12 that characterized much of the last decade to finally, a shift to a more inclusive and cooperative Multilateral13 strategy. Each shift in basic foreign policy stance was affected due to the cumulative result of domestic policies, world events as well as due to the type of predominant decision making framework in existence during each period. In the initial years after independence, when America was still in the process of consolidation of the American state, a policy of non-interference was the most logical and rational choice.
In those early days sans a NSC, foreign policy decision making revolved mostly with the President with healthy advice from the Cabinet. However, after the Second World War, with the emergence of the Soviet Union as a major threat, foreign policy decision making shifted predominantly to greater involvement by the DOD. The National Security Act of 1947 “established the National Security Council to advise the President with respect to the integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to national security”14.
Thereon, the NSC was to play a predominant role in foreign policy formulation punctuated, at times by a strong DOD preponderance. The influence of the State department varied from administration to administration. At the operative level, the influence of Mahan15 and Corbett16 contributed to the dominant role of the US navy and later the US Air Force in implementing US Grand strategy worldwide, the details of which are necessary for understanding the contours of US Grand strategy.
Grand Strategy Imperatives from Cold War to Present Day
During the Cold war, Containment of the Soviet Union had been the main policy. The term containment was first coined by George Kennan in 194717 in his famous Foreign Affairs article “The sources of Soviet Conduct” that set the stage for the formulation and evolution of Containment strategy against the Soviet Union. This policy of Containment was carried out under the nuclear overhang where both sides tried to out-produce each other in terms of number of nuclear weapons giving rise to nuclear strategies such as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and Flexible Response. Each country had a differing approach to geostrategy.
The Soviet Union being a Eurasian power, naturally had a continental outlook and had been greatly influenced by Mackinder’s Heartland theory.18 United States with its geographical isolation, took a differing approach, harnessing the seas molded by a decidedly Mahanian influence. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union left the United States as the sole super power of the world. The sudden collapse of the Soviet Union caught US foreign policy makers by surprise and the abrupt shift from a Bi-Polar world to a Uni-polar world took some time to realign the overall US global strategy.
Left with no real military challenger, US policy makers and strategists concluded that they could now employ their power at will and that any and every problem in the world could be tackled unilaterally. At the Grand Strategic level, thinkers such as Zbigniew Brzezinski argued that American hegemony was required to stabilize the world especially the need for America to establish its supremacy over the Eurasian landmass as “ever since the continents started interacting politically, some 500 years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power19”.
Theories such as those propounded by Brzezinski formed the backbone of the Republican neoconservative constituency which played a major role in the subsequent actions in the Middle East. In tune with such thinking, at the operative level, through the 1990s and early 2000, US naval strategy shifted from Containment to Expeditionary warfare with the proclamation of the Strategy of Forward…From the Sea20.
According to this strategy, the US navy could carry out power projection anywhere in the world solely by deploying its assets at sea. To carry out the logistics functions for Forward—- From the Sea, the US navy invested in maritime pre-positioning ships, which were basically huge container ships carrying all military supplies required for successful prosecution of war, obviating the need for a land base. The US Air force likewise tailored its force structure to provide quick reaction military airlift capability to a complete airborne division in 48 hours anywhere on the globe. The army too tailored its heavy Cold War formations to smaller more mobile groupings and composite formations which could be air deployed or moved by ships at short notice.
The Uni-polar moment in global affairs was just a short pause. Smaller nations realizing that they could not possibly match overwhelming US military superiority shifted their balance to develop asymmetric capabilities. The attack on USS Cole and the 9/11 attacks brought home the dangers of asymmetric warfare to the US military. To counter the events of 9/11, the US embarked on a Strategy of Pre-emption21 by invading Afghanistan and later Iraq.
This strategy of pre-emption however, had its limitations as state and non-state actors further modified their strategies to face up to the US might. Islamic fundamentalism grew at an alarming pace and terrorists found safe havens in as diverse a region as Africa, Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand to name a few. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan quickly bogged down the US military which now faced an unenviable situation of having to commit a sizeable strength of forces to these two theatres and be left with no capacity to deal with problems elsewhere. Other countries sensing this strategic weakness have now embarked on exploiting it.
One just has to look at the Iranian support to terrorists in Iraq, Syrian support to Hezbollah in Lebanon against Israel and the covert games being played by a resurgent Russia and China in Iran. The US policy makers yet again realized the dangers of Overstretch. They also understood that the ‘Global War on Terror’ was not winnable alone and that the US required international support to counter it. This forced a landmark shift away from the unilateralist strategy of pre-emption and Forward —-From the Sea. The latest strategy unveiled by US maritime forces has been called A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower22.
This combined strategy of the US navy, Coast Guard and the Marines readily acknowledges that to make the world a safer place requires cooperation from all likeminded navies and nations of the world. The US Army too realizing that the present war on terrorism had no short term solutions, has changed its conventional strategy to what it calls The US army’s Long War concept23. The basic precepts of this strategy states that the US army acknowledges that the war on terrorism is going to be of a long duration probably decades and that a realignment and restructuring of the US army is required. The emphasis in this strategy is to shift away from heavy armor formations to formations which can quickly react to short sharp conflicts.
While these have been strategies aimed at the global level, country specific strategies have not been forgotten. The meteoric rise of China is a threat which the US clearly factors in its country specific strategy dovetailed into the overall Grand strategy. In respect to China, the US, since the days of the Ping Pong Diplomacy24 in the 1970s has been predicated on Engagement25. The logic behind this engagement strategy has been quite sound.
China is too large a country with too great an economic potential to be antagonized. The Chinese quite early on had very clearly demonstrated their intentions to practice an independent foreign policy away from the Soviets. So while the Chinese gratefully accepted all Soviet help, they had their own aspirations which the American policy makers quickly understood. Thus a friendly China or even a neutral China was calculated as a great help to the United States to fight the Soviets.
Despite the demise of the Cold War, this Engagement policy is very much in place. China now however, is emerging as a serious challenger to American power. China has been employing a Hedging strategy26 as also attempting to employ bandwagoning strategy with nations that have differences with the US. Therefore, the United States has now embarked on an Engagement Policy coupled with a Hedging strategy27 against China.
To counter the spread of Chinese influence in Asia and the Pacific, The United States has identified India; another rising regional power as a possible countervailing force against China other than the traditional hedges Taiwan and Japan. This combination of Engagement and Hedging is likely to dominate US strategy against China for some foreseeable future. The threat from China exists not directly towards Continental United States but on peripheral issues, the most important one being the unification of Taiwan with mainland China. An attack on Taiwan by China may become the most likely cause for the United States to go to war with China.
The frantic Chequebook Diplomacy28 unleashed by China to buy friends across South East Asia, South Asia, Middle East and Africa point toward China’s long term plans to challenge American power.
Against a resurgent Russia, US strategy is still grounded in the vestiges of some old Cold War precepts. The possible reason for this mismatch in strategy is because after the decline of the Soviet Union, America, along with its European allies sought to quickly embrace all erstwhile Warsaw pact countries into its fold without strategizing a plan for accommodating Russia. Through the 90s and early 2000, Russia watched in impotent rage as it saw its backyard being decimated by the US and the EU. The American plan to base Anti Ballistic Missile Defense systems in Poland (ostensibly to counter Iranian missiles) is seen by Russia as a direct threat to its sovereignty29.
Riding on high oil prices, the Russians hit back with vengeance through a multi-prong strategy combining its gas and oil power along with some old fashioned conventional action in Georgia and covert help to the Iranian regime and Middle East players such as Syria. Russia also sought to limit Western advance into the Central Asian Republics by launching the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is a grouping of Central Asian republics, China and Russia with India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as observers. Recently, the Russians also signaled their intention to take the challenge out to sea by sending its fleet across to Venezuela30, which some strategists have likened to the exploits of the US Great White Fleet in 1907-1909.
The American response to Russian aggression has so far been muted as a coherent strategy against Russia has yet not been crystallized. This lacuna has been because of the initial promise that Russia held out, on embracing democracy that it would join up with the western bloc. However, the shape of democracy that took hold in Russia points more towards an ‘enlightened dictatorship’ as exemplified by Vladmir Putin who has managed to stay at the helm of Russian affairs by simply shifting his post from being the President to becoming the Prime Minister of the country.
Amidst all these strategies, nuclear deterrence still remains a valid concept. Along with the five De jure nuclear powers, are the three De Facto nuclear powers namely India, Pakistan and North Korea and one undeclared nuclear power, Israel31. Therefore, managing the global nuclear balance has become a lot more complicated. While the principles of Deterrence had been practiced with resounding success since 1945, which is underscored by the fact that there has been no conflict involving a nuclear weapon till to date after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the same cannot be guaranteed for the newly emerged nuclear weapons states.
North Korea is an unstable state ruled by an equally unpredictable dictator, while Pakistan is in throes of rabid fundamentalism whose future as a state cannot be predicted with any reasonable assurance. The chance of a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir valley is a possibility which has many believers.
Is American Grand Strategy Imperialist?
The narrative of the entire canvas of US Grand strategy till to date brings forth questions of whether the American strategy is imperialistic in nature. ‘American imperialism’ is a charge that reverberates quite commonly across much of the left wing intelligentsia the world over and countries with communist-socialist leanings. However, certain amount of objectivity is required to analyze this charge.
A truly imperial strategy requires areas or regions under colonization. Colas and Saull further observe that Empires have historically ruled over diverse populations and territories from a metropolitan center which accrues power and wealth by exploiting the imperial territory32. However, America has no colonies and has never attempted to build such colonies as did the Romans, Persians, Austro-Hungarians, Ottomans, Chinese or Indic or the last modern empire – the British Empire.
America has no structural or organizational elements of suzerainty or vassal states that typified the fabric of erstwhile empires. Important to the perpetuation of an imperial policy is the need for an imperial mindset, a quality sorely lacking amongst Americans. “At the peak of Britain’s empire …. Young Britons delighted in governing India, Malaysia, Kenya and other exotic lands. Americans, by contrast, particularly most American soldiers, cannot wait to leave the deserts of the Middle East and the mountains of Central Asia and get back to their suburban homes33”. So by definition, an American ‘Empire’ is just a figment of imagination.
To rationalize this figment, US global, cultural, economic and political influence since 1945 is often discussed in terms of neo-imperialism, which implies a less overt but equally pervasive and destructive form of domination of formerly colonized spaces34. Scholars and thinkers have adopted such a term because they realized that the charge that America was resorting to imperialism would not stand the scholastic test and hence the need to invent a new paradigm of what constitutes imperialism.
Thus American Grand strategy is not an imperialistic strategy and there is no American ‘Empire’ literally speaking. However, there is little doubt that American grand strategy always had hegemonistic leanings. The US has been resorting to extra-regional hegemonistic strategy since the end of the Second World War. America’s booming economy, geographical advantage of having no contiguous enemy on the borders, free market system, enormous technological lead and a unique ‘melting pot’ culture ensured US policy makers a geo-political and global leverage unparalleled in the world. American strategists, using Mahanian precepts considered the oceans both as a moat as well as a boundary.
The extent of this ‘boundary’ was always posited to be on th far shores of other continents. Thus the defense of American homeland began across the oceans. This maritime strategy contrasted vividly with the continental outlook of the Soviets whose philosophy revolved around a preponderance of ground forces. The superiority of the Warsaw pact armies was a reality which needed an effective counter. Western Europe had no choice but to ‘bandwagon’ with America for its defense against a clearly expansionist communist threat. Under these circumstances, the Americans embarked upon a system of alliances and defensive emplacements of nuclear weapons in Western Europe.
It was America that dictated the terms as to the numbers, force levels and extent of its strategic weapon emplacements in Europe. Such an extra-regional hegemony strategy was welcomed by the allies but also brought the world closest to a global nuclear disaster. When the Americans based their nuclear missiles in Turkey, the Soviet Union sought to counter the American move by covertly basing their nuclear missiles in Cuba leading to the Cuban missile crisis 1962. The fact that it was Khrushchev who blinked first and withdrew Soviet missiles from Cuba does not belie the fact that an extra-regional hegemony strategy can lead to serious miscalculations.
The Bush administration’s decision to deploy Ballistic Missile Defenses in Poland is another example of actions viewed as extra-regional hegemony. These actions that some misconstrue as imperialism, which as has been brought out earlier does not stand to scholastic test. Others have pointed out that the unilateralist actions of Bush administration in Iraq have unmasked the imperialistic directions of American Grand Strategy with an overall aim at world domination.
Fouskas and Gokay give a more plausible explanation for the American actions in Iraq that “In fact, rather than seeing the Bush doctrine as a general roadmap for US grand strategy, it is probably better seen as an opportunistic response to the event of 11 September 2001 and a reckless attempt to deal with some very specific but real problems of US strategy in the Middle East35.
The Geostrategic Importance of the Middle East to the United States
Since the discovery of oil in the desert wastelands of the Middle East, the region has remained at the centre of geopolitical focus and strife. Oil, to a large extent outlines the region’s importance to the United States. The National Energy Policy (2001) of the United States clearly enunciates that US energy consumption over the next decade will outstrips its domestic production and that in 2020, US oil production would supply less than 30 percent of the US oil needs36. Oil accounts for nearly 40 percent of the US energy needs and it accounts for 89 percent of net US energy imports37. Oil drives almost 100% of the transportation industry in the US and of course its means to global power – the US military. Thus, oil companies, public and private invariably get tied to a country’s national security.
US Oil Industry Dynamics
US oil industry is almost completely a private enterprise with a regulatory framework that ensures that oil companies pay taxes to the government. American oil and gas companies pay a significant amount of tax to the US government that make up a large part of government revenue. According to Energy Information Agency, in 2007, the effective income tax rate of the major industry producers was 40.4% based upon income tax expense of almost $85 Billion, while additional taxes and fees such as production taxes, import duties, and property taxes paid by the oil majors accounted for another $ 12 Billion of revenue for various governments.
Then oil companies also remit $ 48 Billion as excise tax to the government38. There is a deep linkage between government policies and the oil companies as high taxation invariably affects the ability of the oil companies to compete in the world market where they have to offer attractive bids to stave off competition from other companies which have state patronage and low tax rates. Companies extracting oil and gas from government owned land in addition have to pay a royalty to the government.
Global Oil Dynamics
The profits that oil companies generate depend not only on the taxation rates in their home countries but also the rate of oil per barrel as set by the oil producing countries which is dominated by the OPEC cartel. These rates reflected in the world commodity markets such the NYMEX are rates of the Spot markets. Oil traded on the spot market is open to purchase by anyone who bids and offers the asking price.
Oil companies typically negotiate contract rates over a long term or a medium term period at a fixed rate which is lower than the spot rate. Oil producing countries agree to such rates because it gives them assured income and thus make it easy for them to carry out developmental work in their homelands. Contracts given to oil companies vary from contract to contract. Some contracts allow for oil companies to extract oil on behalf of the oil producing country, other allow the oil companies to extract and export oil back to home countries or put in on the spot market. Invariably, in all these deals, state to state relations play an important role.
Almost two-thirds of the world’s proven reserves of oil are in the Middle East. In 1999, the Persian Gulf Countries produced over 27 percent of the world’s oil of which 12 percent was exported to the US, about 20 percent to OECD European countries and 70 percent to Japan. Of the 12 percent, from the Persian Gulf, 60 percent of US imports came from Saudi Arabia and 29 percent from Iraq, 10 percent from Kuwait with very little coming from Qatar and UAE39. The amount that is exported from the Persian Gulf to the US has been increasing over the years with the EIA reporting 18% being the share for the year 2007.
In 2000, the breakdown of US oil imports showed that 24% came from the Middle East, 14% from Africa, 9% from Eurasia, 3% fro m others and balance 50% from Western Hemisphere. Canada accounted for 15 percent while Saudi Arabia accounted for 14 percent of the oil imported40. This diversification of supplies has been carried out to reduce strategic vulnerability but the energy report very clearly brings out the key importance of the Middle East when it observes that by 2020 the gulf will produce between 54 and 67 percent of the world’s oil and that the region would remain vital to US interests41.
The importance of Saudi Arabia as the largest producer amongst the Persian Gulf state and its spare capacity forms the raison d etre why the US has invested so heavily in maintaining close ties with a nondemocratic regime including extending security cover. What is therefore implicit in the energy report is that while oil in the western hemisphere will decline over a period of time, the share of oil imports from the Middle East will rise and that the “Gulf will be the primary focus of US international energy policy”42. The Energy report also mentions the Caspian Sea oil as a major source for diversification of the US energy basket43. Thus control over the Eurasian landmass also comes into play.
Oil as a Weapon
UNCTAD’s Review of Maritime Transport (2008) reported that “the world’s largest oil producer, Saudi Arabia, accounted for 12.8 per cent of total world production in 2007 and remained the main producer within OPEC, with a share of 29.3 per cent”44. Whenever, geopolitical tensions have increased in the Middle East, the OPEC has used oil as a weapon. Consequently, every conflict in the Middle East from the Iranian revolution in 1979, First Gulf War 1990 to the beginning of the second Intifada45 in 2000 had lead to sharp increases in oil prices causing or contributing to U.S. and global recession in the last thirty years.
Thus countering the OPEC was one of the problems that engaged the neo-conservatives in the Bush administration. A BBC news night report claimed that the decision to invade Iraq was also based on the neoconservative intent on using Iraqi oil to destroy OPEC cartel through massive increases in production above OPEC quotas46. An influential study by the Baker Institute published in April 2001 very clearly pointed to the threat from Iraq “becoming a ‘swing producer’ posing a difficult position for the US government”47.
Therefore, ensuring a smooth flow of oil without disruption either through military action or through economic action in the Persian Gulf was an important geopolitical factor that impinged directly on US national interests where the Middle East emphasized its twin concerns of energy security and security of energy.
US Grand Strategic Imperatives linked to Oil
While oil undoubtedly was a prime factor why the US invaded Iraq, other complex factors also played an important role. Since the end of the Cold War, US geostrategic experts had been arguing for a more muscular Grand Strategy since there existed no challenger to US might. As stated earlier, Brzezinski’s thesis that the key to control of the Eurasian landmass rested in the control over central Asia48 that acts as a guard post over American control of the oil.
In Brzezinski’s construct the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy were to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, and to keep the barbarians from coming together49”. While Brzezinski did not specifically recommend invasion of Iraq to stabilize the region, his depiction of a ‘global zone of percolating violence’ clearly marked Iraq and Iran as flashpoints50. Brzezenski had noted that in the Middle East, Iran was a pivot player51 and hence required managing.
The Bush administration reportedly was heavily influenced by Brzezinski’s book and hence embarked on a series of unilateralist measures to control Eurasia. Since Iran was possibly deemed as too difficult to crack, Iraq with its dictator who oppressed his people and had ambition of procuring WMD was an easier target ultimately resulted in the US invasion of Iraq. Security of the region from terrorism was also another geostrategic factor which was viewed by the US as a reason to have a greater direct footprint in the region.
Terrorism: Connectivities with Political Islam
Terrorism has been variously defined as premeditated violence perpetrated by state or non state actors or groups to coerce governments for political or ideological reasons52. Terrorism does not constitute random acts of violence but has a logic and theoretical basis. Many radical leaders have propounded their theories on the methods and practice of terrorism to achieve stated aims. Carlos Marighela, a Brazilian radical whose Mini-Manual of the Urban Guerrilla considered as a bible for terrorists across the world laid the foundations for urban guerrilla warfare when he stated that “the primary task of the urban guerrilla is to distract, to wear down, to demoralize the military regime and its repressive forces”53.
Marighela’s philosophy of Urban guerrilla warfare that “The urban guerrilla is not afraid to dismantle and destroy the present Brazilian economic, political and social system, for his aim is to aid the rural guerrillas and to help in the creation of a totally new and revolutionary social and political structure, with the armed population in power”54 has been adopted by Islamic terrorists as well.
The Middle East region has been the confluence of four great religions which include Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Persian (subsumed into Islam) with Islam being the dominant religion of all Middle East countries except Israel. The decline of the Ottoman Empire left the Muslims at the mercy of the Christian world who exploited the region for its resources. This was resented by the people of the region who formed various political parties and groups to overthrow the monarchies and puppet governments which had been propped up by Western countries.
The humiliating defeat of Arab armies in the 1967 Arab Israeli war, gave new life to the Muslim Brotherhood , a political entity created in 192855 in Egypt which promised a return to the egalitarian principles of Islam. There are three distinct Islamic groups in the Middle East those that follow the philosophy of Islamic Opposition, Islamic Revolution and Islamic Terror. These three distinct groups have contributed both positively and negatively to the development of their countries. The Islamic Opposition as typified by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in its formative years did engage in reforms and had forced Egypt’s autocratic rulers to allow greater democratic freedoms.
The Islamic Revolutionary group has had resounding success in Iran when Ayatollah Khomeini‘s Iranian revolution, 197956 overthrew the Shah and established a religious theocracy in Iran. The last group ascribing to Islamic Terror such as the Hamas, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda has only served to create chaos and destruction. The confluence of terror groups in the Middle East and the rise of Al Qaeda pointed to a real danger of the US losing control over the entire Middle East as Brzezinski points out that “Islamic fundamentalism could undermine several pro-western Middle Eastern governments and eventually jeopardize American regional interests, especially in the Persian Gulf57”.
US intelligence agencies had built a case of Iraq supporting terrorist organizations in the Middle East against the United States. There was also a fear that WMD terrorism might emanate from Iraq. Thus any excuse to increase American presence in the Persian Gulf was an opportunity which needed to be seized and Iraq provided one such opportunity.
The Invasion of Iraq
Iraq’s geo-strategic importance to the world lies in its oil reserves. The Economist reports that “Iraq’s proven reserves, of 115 billion barrels, are the world’s third largest after Saudi Arabia and Iran”58. In 1928, American oil companies Jersey Standard and Socony, today’s Exxon-Mobil with US government backing had a 23.75% share in the Turkish Petroleum Company later named Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC). The period from the 1930s onwards saw a struggle between western oil companies’ efforts through backing of their governments to maintain their hold over Gulf oil and the resistance of the Gulf countries to such efforts.
Thus when Dr Muhammed Mossadeq of Iran nationalized British Petroleum, the British with the help of CIA overthrew his government to establish Reza Pehalavi as their puppet59. This marked the first direct American attempt at control over the Middle East oil displacing the British whose powers had declined dramatically after the Second World War. In Iraq too, the US intelligence services recruited in 1959, Saddam Hussein to take part in assassination of Iraqi Prime minister Qasim whom the US planners feared had wanted to alter the favorable terms for their oil companies60.
The overthrow of Qasim’s government led to the Baathist party coming to power who promptly granted more concession areas to the IPC, a stake in the rich Rumaila fields and allowed the IPC, joint exploration with a newly formed Iraq National Oil Company. However, the US relationship with the Baathists soured in the early 70s and the Baathist entered the Cold War aligned with Soviet Union. A direct result of this change was that the Baathists nationalized the IPC as well as all other deals cut depriving the US and UK lucrative oil deals in Iraq. Before nationalization of oil in Iraq, US and UK oil companies had a 75% share in the IPC including Iraq’s oil reserves61.
The Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s again brought a radical change to Iraqi foreign policy directions. The Americans agreed to arm Iraq to face up to revolutionary Iran in exchange for a stake in Iraqi oil. Saddam Hussein complied. However, the ruinous eight year long Iran-Iraq war strained Iraq’s resources, who banking on relative insulation from the West invaded Kuwait to bolster their oil resources leading to the First Gulf War.. After the First Gulf War, Saddam Hussein embarked on a policy of rewarding rival oil companies from France, Russia and China with oil contracts while limiting the space for US and UK companies.
Control of Iraqi Oil – Personal Linkages within the Bush Administration
All the key players in the Bush administration had a close relationship with US oil companies. Presidents Bush (both Senior and Junior) have oil interests in Texas, Vice President Dick Cheney was the former CEO of Halliburton, the nation’s largest oil services company, National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice was a former director of Chevron Texaco, in UK the British government held a stake in BP62.
All the oil companies mentioned above have had a previous history of high stakes in Iraq, had lost primacy during the Saddam Hussein years and thus were looking for a chance to redress lost ground in Iraq. The oil companies had hoped that an invasion of Iraq would put all Iraqi oil in the hands of the occupying force that could then provide American companies with contracts and quotas. Even if the American government did not resort to outright favoritism in dispensing oil contracts, oil companies’ tie up with building companies would still ensure substantial amount of the oil revenue reaching the American companies through secondary means.
The assessment was based on the fact that after the war Iraq would require substantial reconstruction, the contracts for which would undeniably go to American companies. To pay for the reconstruction, Iraqi government installed by the Americans would have to sell oil to generate money to pay for the reconstruction. Thus either way, revenue from the sale of Iraqi oil would flow to American coffers.
Faced with a direct challenge to American interests, the US and the UK employed a sanctions regime through a spate of UN Security council resolutions (Refer Appendix A) that were circumvented by Saddam Hussein through many ways including the controversial ‘oil for food’ program. The oil for food program had been initiated to provide desperately needed food and medicines to Iraq whose 90 percent source of revenue was based on sale of oil.
The oil for food program was manipulated by Saddam to rearm through the global black market. Despite the fact that most American oil companies had been banned by Saddam Hussein from directly purchasing Iraqi crude after 1998, American companies were continuing to buy upto 2 million barrels of Iraqi crude through Russian, French and Chinese traders63. Most of this oil reached directly at American ports in the Gulf of Mexico. The statistics compiled by the US Energy Information Administration show that since 1999 till 2008, US oil imports from Iraq have varied between 150,000 to 300,000 barrels as the graphic below shows, which is roughly half of the US imports from Saudi Arabia for the same period.
Iraqi oil is of greatest importance to the US because other than being the third largest producer of oil in the Gulf after Saudi Arabia and Iran it “ may be one of the few places left where vast reserves, proven and unknown, have barely been exploited64”. The attraction to Iraq’s oil stems from the fact that it is sweet, easy to extract lying close to the ground which brings down the cost of extraction to just $ 1 to a barrel65.
US actions immediately on invading Iraq were first to secure the oil fields and the oil ministry in Baghdad. Next on May 22, 2003, Bush issued executive order 13303 giving immunity to oil companies to for all activities in Iraq and the same day applied pressure in the UN security council to push through resolution 1483 (Refer Appendix A) to lift sanctions on the sale of oil and put the money in an Iraq Reconstruction Fund66.
Since the Iraqi occupation, the US has indirectly controlled Iraq’s oil riches by way of forwarding ‘advice’ to the Iraqi government on how to use its oil for reconstruction. In 2008, Washington Post reported that Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP were in final stages of negotiating contracts that would return them to Iraq after 36 years of losing their oil concessions to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power67.
The Threat of Conversion from PetroDollar to PetroEuro
Connected to the dynamics of oil politics was the issue of petro dollar domination of global oil. Since the 70s, global oil had always been traded in dollars and that gave strength and leverage to the American government globally. It gave the US, the flexibility to mint new currency and pump in more dollars into the world markets in times of recession. In the months leading up to the actual invasion, Saddam Hussein had reportedly been threatening to convert Iraq’s oil trade from trading in Dollars to Euros68.
In September 2000, The Iraqi News agency quoting an Iraqi cabinet meeting resolution stated that the cabinet had decided to employ a panel of economists to study the possibility of using euro instead of the dollar for their foreign contracts as the dollar was one of the lever of Iraq’s enemy at the regional and international level69. In November 2000, Iraq insisted that further sale of Iraqi oil under the UN approved oil for food program would be done in Euros, a clear move to divide the Western countries.
Saddam’s strategy was to further deepen the divisions between the dollar zone US, UK who wished to tighten the sanction regime and the Euro zone led by France who wanted the UN to ease the sanctions regime against Iraq. In 2002, the OPEC also seriously considered the possibility of shifting from Petro dollars to petro Euros as the euro was promising to be a more stable currency in the long term70. In the same year Iran introduced a proposal to receive payments for crude oil sale in Euros instead of dollars71.
Faced with a possible revolt of the OPEC, Iran and Iraq converting from petrodollars to petro euros the US needed to act quickly. Saddam Hussein’s successful bid in getting the approval from the UN to receive $10 billion worth oil in Euros in 200072 alarmed American strategists as it had a possible domino effect of other gulf countries following suit and ending America’s domination of the global petroleum markets.
US Political Ideology versus Inconsistent Foreign Policy
Control over Iraqi oil was just one of the factors that led to the invasion of Iraq. America’s avowed ideological stance to ‘spread democracy everywhere’ clashed with the necessity of doing business with a dictator. Since the First Gulf war, the dictator had turned against its powerful former ally and hence needed to be replaced and hence came into being the idea of a regime change. The idea of regime change was officially promulgated by the Clinton administration through the signing into law the Iraq Liberation Act on October 31, 199873 under Republican pressure that called for the American administration to support dissident Iraqi community’s efforts to overthrow Saddam Hussein and institute a democracy in Iraq.
The Iraq liberation act provided for $ 97 million military assistance to Iraqi opposition74. Clinton did not specifically refer to use of American troops for carrying out the process of regime change nor was there ever a plan to invade Iraq for any such act. The Iraq policy thus revolved around supporting the London based Iraqi National Congress (INC) comprising of Shia, Sunni and Kurdish dissidents and enforcing the UN mandated sanctions on Iraq.
All through the period right from the date Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2 1990 till to date, 82 UN Security council resolutions have been promulgated. A large number of those had been related towards easing the suffering of the common Iraqi population (Refer Appendix A), the UN authorized the sale of Iraqi oil for food but not for rearming itself. Saddam Hussein, with active collusion of other countries succeeded in amassing $10.1 Billion in illegal revenues from 1997-2002 through the Oil for Food Program75 that went not for buying food but for buying weapons and some say also Weapons of Mass Destruction. The theory that Iraq was acquiring WMDs was circulated since the Clinton administration first by the INC and later by the Clinton administration itself but could not be proved due to an absence of on-site inspections76.
The Clinton era passed with American foreign policy dithering over what to do with Iraq. With the appointment of George W Bush, that policy changed from ambivalence to a more hawkish and proactive policy of ensuring a regime change.
The Philosophy of American Exceptionalism
Another reason why America went to war with Iraq rested on the changed world order after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Left with no check to its power, American strategists felt that they could now shape the world order according to the needs and dictates of American interests. Unilateralism and the perpetuation of American hegemony thus were a natural corollary, a natural result and also a right for the victor – America to do as it pleases.
Many American strategists also believed in American exceptionalism that espoused that America was a different and a special case who used its military power only for the good of the world and that greater the number of democracies in the world, greater was the chance of enduring peace77. American exceptionalism presupposes that the American model of democracy and way of life is the ideal model, which if followed by the countries in the world would lead to everlasting peace. Since such a model was ideal, America could do no wrong and all its actions were just and justifiable Such a philosophy especially appealed to the neoconservatives who existed in large numbers in the Bush administration.
Preponderance of Right Wing Conservatives in the Bush Administration
Therefore, the next reason why America went to war with Iraq was to a large extent due the unusually high concentration of neoconservatives in the top echelons of the Bush administration. These included Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, I Lewis Libby, Chief of Staff to Dick Cheney the Vice President, Steven Hadley the deputy national security advisor, Richard Perle member Defense policy board, John Bolton, undersecretary for state for arms control and international security affairs, Zalmay Khalilzad NSC staffer for Afghanistan and Iraq policy who later became the US ambassador to Iraq.
Neoconservatives tended to see issues in more absolute terms; ‘good or evil’, ‘with us or against us’ and the need for moral clarity in US foreign policy78. The neoconservatives outnumbered the realists and pragmatists such as Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice and Richard Armitage who openly disagreed with the neocon’s worldview. The third ideological group consisted of conservative realists like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld who while not possessing the puritanical zeal of the neoconservatives shared the neocon’s belief of US exceptionalism and unilateralism.
Thus with such a large number of top officials possessing puritanical and right wing beliefs, it was entirely possible that most of the advice and analyses provided to the President would have lacked balance. That there was an open disagreement between the State department and the DOD was evident when the Secretary of State pressing for UN Security Council resolution to authorize the war being rejected by the DOD and the Vice President who feared that a UN Security Council resolution could stymie their agenda to attack Iraq79.
The Personal Beliefs and Psychological Traits of George W Bush
President Bush’s personal convictions of what constituted ‘good’, ‘bad’ and moral duty also played an important part in the decision to go to war with Iraq. In an interview with Bob Woodward, Bush stated that “I believe we have a duty to free people80.” Woodward reports that the President had wanted to liberate the Iraqis from oppression and had the zeal to do so81. Bush was probably the most religious President since Jimmy Carter and had become a ‘born again’ Christian in 1985.
The President saw the war on terrorism and the case against Iraq as a divine mission82 that required him to take the actions against Iraq. Bush viewed Iraq through a Manichean prism of ‘Good’ and ‘evil’ and had come to he conclusion that the Iraqi regime was evil that deserved to be ousted. Quoting from the preamble of his 2002 National Security Strategy that proclaimed the US intent to promote effective democracy everywhere, the Bush administration launched a vociferous propaganda war on the brutal regime inflicted by Saddam Hussein and the need for a regime change83. The President’s psychological profile pointed to a person who took decisions based on gut feelings84 rather than a reasoned examination of facts.
Also, he had a tendency to dwell on the ‘results’, giving decisions leaving the rest to fill in details. So once Bush had decided to go to war with Iraq the rest did not concern him and would be bored and irritated with the details85. He also did not like dissenting opinion and on a number of times when the Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to dissuade him from invading Iraq, Bush refused to listen. In fact the decision to go to war was taken without keeping the Secretary of state informed and it was Condoleeza Rice, the then national security advisor who had prompt Bush to keep Powell informed. Bush then sent for Powell and informed him that the nation was going to war and that he should support the decision86.
Iraq’s Alleged Support for Terrorist Groups
Iraq’s support of Middle East terrorist groups was also cited as one of the reasons why America needed to intervene. Wolfowitz surmised that Al Qaeda who had been responsible for the attacks on two US embassies in Africa in 1998 and the USS Cole attack in 2000 had a state sponsor most likely Iraq that required America to prosecute Iraq87. It was also suspected that Iraq had supported Al Qaeda in carrying out the Twin Towers attack and this view was pushed by Donald Rumsfeld the Secretary Defense along with Paul Wolfowitz his deputy and Rumsfeld then discussed possibility of military strikes against Iraq with his military staff88.
In Wolfowitz’s opinion (he had no proof) there was a 10 to 50 percent chance that Saddam Hussein had been involved in the 9/11 attacks and that since “attacks on mountainous Afghanistan might prove problematic, Iraq was doable”89. In 2001, the CIA director George Tenet had briefed the President hat Iraq could be a potential country that may supply radiological material to create a ‘dirty bomb’90. Thus a case was being built for the President to embark upon a ‘preventive war or employ a strategy of pre-emption.
Faulty Intelligence Reporting
Yet another contributory cause for the war was the unreliable and often ambiguous intelligence analyses provided to the President regarding Iraq’s WMD program. The National Intelligence Estimate for 2002 claimed that “Baghdad had chemical and biological weapons….. and would probably have nuclear weapons by the end of the decade…. And is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program”91.
The report was couched in ambiguous terms as ‘we assess’ and ‘we judge’ but did not provide for any real evidence by way of photographic evidence or material proof. One of the reasons for the lack of any material evidence was that Iraq had banished IAEA inspectors in 1998 and intelligence agencies were relying on questionable Iraqi dissident sources and satellite imagery which could be interpreted either way depending upon who was interpreting. For example, grainy satellite imagery showed trucks carrying something that could be chemical weapons to purported chemical weapons sites and factories92 none of which could be verified physically.
Not only was intelligence faulty, intelligence sharing amongst the agencies was also sub par reflecting a sort of Turf war. In the case of Iraq buying aluminum tubes, the army’s intelligence agency was denied exact information by the CIA93 which led to faulty assessment of the actual possible use of the aluminum tubes, which the CIA alleged were to be used for making centrifuges for enriching uranium. The source for such alarming inputs was an agent identified only as ‘Curveball’ whose reliability was being challenged by other subordinates in the intelligence community. However, neither the CIA director nor the Secretary of State at that time was aware of this fact94 pointing to a possible suppression of facts.
Any leader on being provided such alarming intelligence summaries could hardly be faulted to conclude that Iraq indeed posed an existential danger to the free world and therefore needed to be put down. Later, intelligence agencies continued to build the WMD case based on scanty unreliable information and pure speculation culminating in the then Secretary of State Colin Powell making a presentation to the UN Security Council in 2002 supported by documents that indicated Iraq purchasing Uranium yellow cake from Niger95 being proof of its intention of acquiring WMDs. Powell later in 2005 said he was sorry for that act96 which has since been proven to be a false charge. Thus armed with a doctored dossier that charged Iraq with intentions of acquiring WMD, America went to war.
Negative Image of Intelligence Agencies
Linked to the intelligence community was also the negative image and skepticism harbored by the Secretary Defense and the national security advisor regarding their abilities to put forward the truth. Donald Rumsfeld had always believed that intelligence tended to underrate the problem97. In any organization, subordinates can at times tend to project a story the way the leaders may want to believe. For example, it had been a fact in the past that Saddam Hussein had endeavored to acquire WMDs.
So if any leads that reinforced the story could well be projected as a possible truth. In the absence of hard evidence, intelligence agencies resort to ambiguous language that purports to tell the truth but actually allows an ‘escape route’ for the agencies should facts prove contrary later on. Thus the language used in the 2002 NIE report described earlier provided for such escape clauses.
Belief in a Quick War and a Cheap Victory
Yet another factor that could be labeled as a contributory reason why the US went to war with Iraq was a promise of a quick victory based on neoconservative belief on small hard hitting transformed army achieving the objective. Yet another serious miscalculation was the number of troops put on ground in Iraq. Winning a war based on minimum force levels and ‘shock and awe’ does not preclude the need for manpower in a post war stabilization scenario. The then Secretary defense Donald Rumsfeld had allotted 170,000 men to control an entire country with a plan to drawdown to 40,000 troops within a few months.
General Eric K Shinseki who had argued that the Iraqi invasion required at least 500,000 troops was fired98. Rumsfeld had a fixed idea that a smaller military could accomplish anything. Thus an overbearing Secretary of Defense who ignored professional advice, going by his own uninformed presumptions for going to war had concluded that securing Iraq could be done quickly, cheaply with a small force was yet another reason for the decision to go to war with Iraq.
Lack of Cultural Understanding of Middle Eastern Ethos
A lack of understanding of Iraq’s internal domestic politics was yet another contributory reason to the decision to go to war. The strategists did not fathom the level of animosity that exists between the Shias and the Sunnis whose irreconcilable differences are rooted in an ancient past. Indeed Paul Wolfowitz the Deputy Secretary Defense had testified that there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq and thus a small American force could keep peace in postwar Iraq99 (Schmitt 2003).
There was a mistaken belief in the administration, egged by propaganda from Iraqi dissidents that the Americans would be welcomed as liberators and that the Iraqis would embrace democracy with open arms. American planners did not take proper cognizance of sociological, cultural and religious dynamics of the region despite the fact that neoconservative thinkers (whose views had great influence over the Bush administration) like the late Samuel Huntington had warned with reference to Mideast cultures that “cultural characteristics and differences are less mutable and hence less easily compromised and resolved than political and economic ones”100. Therefore the belief that a political action of removing Saddam Hussein and liberating the Iraqi economy would be easily achievable encouraged the decision to go to war.
American Arrogance and Miscellaneous Reasons
The other less charitable views hold that ultra right wing activism and imperial hubris were responsible for this ill planned misadventure. A more personalized reason given by Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11 was the Bush went to war with Saddam because he had tried to kill his daddy101. Thus the human angle of personal vendetta was also cited as a possible reason for the decision to go to war with Iraq.
Fallouts of the Iraq War
The removal of Saddam Hussein and the ‘debaathifcation’ process handed Iran a strategic advantage without even firing a shot. At one go, Iran now had a Shia majority government in power in Iraq, which it could manipulate giving rise to the fears of a future ‘Shia Super state’ in the Middle East. Iran realizing the trouble that the US was facing has upped its support to the Shia rebel groups in Iraq who are at odds with the US armed forces.
A steady supply of arms, ammunition, money and training of insurgents continues to make its way from Tehran. While Iran will undoubtedly wield greater influence in Iraq, “the Iraqis Shias are Arabs and not Persian102” and thus have a healthy distrust for their coreligionists across the border. However the economics of the region cannot be denied. Iran is the second largest trading partner of Iraq after Turkey with $ 4 billion in annual trade103.
Adding to the American problems has been the presence of Al Qaeda in Iraq whose army of volunteers has caused the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians and American soldiers. Baker III & Hamilton estimate that, “sectarian violence causes the largest number of Iraqi civilian casualties”104. According to Sabir, “the death toll in Iraq is taking a toll on middle-class America—- it is middle-income American families, 86.8%, who are disproportionately represented in military deaths”105.
A majority of American deaths in the initial years of the war were from Improvised Explosives Devices (IEDs). As the American countermeasures grew more effective, insurgents now have changed tack and have increased the rate of suicide attacks with women joining in as suicide bombers. The cost of the war in Iraq has been humungous. According to Baker III & Hamilton, “estimates run as high as $ 2 trillion for the final cost of the US involvement in Iraq”106.
Adding to the capital costs, the human costs have been tremendous. Over 3000 US personnel have died since the beginning of the Iraq war. The medical costs of the war are also increasing in geometric progression with increasing number of soldiers reporting sick for Post Traumatic Stress Disorders along with the physical disabilities. The infusion of extra troops called as the ‘surge’ has helped bring down the violence significantly in recent months as Biddle, Hanlon & Pollack report, “violence is down at least 80 percent since the surge began.”107 However, this is appreciated to be a temporary reprieve. The Iraqi government, its law enforcement agencies and the Iraqi army is in no shape to manage the affairs of the country without the support of American forces.
In a post war stabilization process, rehabilitation of refugees is extremely important if the social fabric and equilibrium of the Iraqi society is to be restored. “Of the approximately 2 million Iraqis who fled the country over the past few years, very few – well under 5 percent have returned”108. Until this large refugee population returns back demographic imbalance and ghettoisation of communities will preclude social cohesion.
Attempting to instill a democratic system is by far the most radical transformative step attempted by the Americans in Iraq. For a country which has never known democracy, having to suddenly adopt a new fangled concept has proven to be far more difficult. Election were held in Iraq with partial success that saw Prime Minister Al Maliki Dawa Party gaining a mandate to govern but democratic values are still rudimentary. The Kurds continue to chaff at not securing formal approval for exploiting the oil in the Kirkuk region from the central government. According to Mac Gregor, today, Maliki’s regime is rapidly falling back into the old Baathist patterns – but with the Iran-backed, Shiite Arab majority providing the ruling elite109”. This should come as no surprise as in the Middle East, Iraq included, tribal loyalties and fealties take precedence over state or national interests.
Future Course in Iraq: Possible Outcomes
The choices that are now available to the US are stark. A Council on foreign relations report by Steven Simon has identified two main problems facing the US which it cannot solve namely, the presence of violence and instability caused due to collapse of administrative and coercive state capacity as also the failure of the Iraqi politicians to win legitimacy and provide stability110. The report called for a withdrawal of US forces within eighteen months retaining only forces necessary to secure Baghdad airport, the Green Zone and access routes connecting them111. By recommending such steps, policy makers have yet again shown their short sighted sightedness.
To withdraw precipitously from Iraq would lead to a renewed civil war as Huckabee succinctly states, “Withdrawing from Iraq before the country is stable and secure would have serious strategic consequences for us and horrific humanitarian consequences for the Iraqis. Iraq’s neighbors on all sides would be drawn into the war and face refugee crises”112. A withdrawal of the US from the region to concentrate on Afghanistan will leave a power vacuum in the region, which is sure to be filled in by Iran.
Even if neoconservative theories such as those propounded by Brzezenski be given credence, a withdrawal will deeply hurt American interest as the fulcrum to control the Eurasian landmass would be lost leading to a loss of American hegemony and control of the Persian Gulf oil. The Russians who already have a foothold in the region may step in and take control of Iraqi oil. The other possibility of China which already has a sizeable presence in Iraq through its oil contracts might replace America as the governing influence in Iraq at very little cost to itself. In fact, after America has done the ‘dirty work’, done all the fighting, it would be countries like Russia, China, France and UK who may profit from the over 3000 American dead and a Trillion dollar war bill that the US is expected to run up.
Withdrawal will also enable Al Qaeda to stage a recovery in Iraq where its fortunes have been on low ebb for the past few months. So while President Obama in his June 4, 2009 speech at Cairo, may have pledged to remove all troops from Iraq by 2012113, ground realities will force him to change his position in due course. The presence of Al Qaeda in Iraq is a temporary phenomenon. West Asian and Middle East communities coalesce around their clans and tribes and do not like interference from outsiders even if they be of the same religion. Pan-Islamism as a concept is acceptable to Muslims as long as it does not impinge their home turf. Thus the real challenges for the Obama administration would be to finds ways to stop the civil war which lies at the heart of the present instability in Iraq.
America is likely to remain embroiled in the Iraqi quagmire for the foreseeable future till such time the Iraqi establishment becomes resilient enough to handle internal and external threats. This course of action would mean continuance of American troops in Iraq, rising American casualties, a rising war bill and of course the deleterious social effects of war casualties returning home to mainland US with physical and psychological infirmities. The low intensity civil war will continue for some time to come till the various demographic factions within the country find social and political equilibrium. Considering the social and cultural environment, one can, over time expect a quasi western democratic model to emerge or a slide back to dictatorship or an Iranian style religious theocracy.
Conclusions and Recommendations
What is the US Grand Strategy?
A careful review of the literature thus far reveals that overall goal of US Grand strategy has been to ensure peace and prosperity for its people. In pursuance of this aim, American Grand strategy has always held that American peace and prosperity was intractably linked to global peace and prosperity. Owing to the nature of its birth, Americans value democratic freedoms but would have been most happy to be left alone to pursue their versions of the ‘American Dream’.
This sentiment of minding one’s own business led to a period of isolationist policy that served the growth of the young vibrant nation. American Grand strategy has never been imperialistic since its inception.
However, America has always subscribed to extra-regional hegemony as an established principle of Grand strategy to ensure its national interests. Linked to the maintenance of the American way of life has been the necessity to ensure a free and unfettered access to resources especially energy resources. Thus America’s Grand strategy has always lent primacy to its energy security and security of energy. During the Cold war, American Grand strategy was single minded in its approach and goal of defeating the Soviet Union. In pursuit of this goal American Grand strategy utilized the principle of realism.
Thus no dictator, fundamentalist or criminal was ‘off limit’ if he served the main goal – of defeating the Soviet Union. America’s victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan was achieved by supporting the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden and Pakistan who had their own vested interests. All three today have come back to haunt American quest for peace and stability. Thus, the present contours of war on terror are by and large, a product of American Foreign policy.
Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, American strategists have argued for unilateralism and continuance of American hegemony as main driving principles for American Grand strategy. This has been especially accentuated during Republican administrations rather than during Democratic administrations. The influence of neoconservatives and right wing thinkers had played an important role in shaping the unilateralist tendencies and beliefs in American exceptionalism.
To counter the events of 9/11, the US embarked on a Strategy of Pre-emption by invading Afghanistan and later Iraq. This strategy of pre-emption however, had its limitations as state and non-state actors further modified their strategies to face up to the US might. Islamic fundamentalism has grown at an alarming pace and terrorists have found safe havens in as diverse a region as Africa, Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand to name a few. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan has bogged down the US military which now is faced with an unenviable situation of having to commit a sizeable strength of forces to these two theatres and be left with no capacity to deal with problems elsewhere.
Lacking an imperial mindset, attuned to viewing the rest of the globe through the prism of American values and American culture, American Grand strategy has failed to take into account Middle East cultural dynamics. All through the period since its independence, America has never build a colonial empire nor has it tried to impose imperial rule over any part of the world. It has, however resorted to maintaining a strategy of extra-regional hegemony which is different from imperialism.
The US policy makers have now realized the dangers of Overstretch. They have also understood that the Global war on Terror would require international support to counter it. This has forced a landmark shift away from the unilateralist strategy of pre-emption and Forward —-From the Sea. The latest strategy unveiled by the US maritime forces has been called The Cooperative Strategy for the 21st Century Seapower. This combined strategy of the US navy, Coast Guard and the Marines readily acknowledges that to make the world a safer place requires cooperation from all the likeminded navies and nations of the world.
Against China, the US has embarked upon an Engagement and Hedging strategy using India as a countervailing force. Russian resurgence is being sought to be contained with a shield of former East European countries but a coherent Russia strategy is yet to emerge. It can be emphatically stated that American foreign policy has always gained and prospered by its internationalist approach. The present financial downturn is but a cyclical blip in global economics.
America’s Grand strategists believe that the world needs America’s leadership and withdrawing precipitously from any geopolitical space will create a dangerous vacuum which is likely to be filled up by any of the lower ranking powers. American scholars call for “a truly “bold, progressive internationalism”114 as a future direction for American Grand strategy which would continue to ensure the primacy of America as the sole global superpower.
In the final analysis, it can be concluded that as a whole, American Grand strategy has tended to favor the policy of extra regional hegemony since the end of Second World War. American Grand strategy is not imperialistic as American actions have resulted in changes of governments but never direct control over governance either physically or remotely in any part of the world. Unilateralism has been the main thrust of American Grand strategic initiatives since the end of the Cold war. These initiatives have been more accentuated in Republican administrations rather than Democratic administrations.
However, unilateralism has also shown deep flaws in its operative principles. American Grand strategy has often appeared to be reactive, hasty and has displayed lack of patience and deeper understanding of the region which they have been trying to influence. The inability to look at the long term effects of either hegemonstic or unilateralist policies have hobbled American global image. The case of Iraq very clearly brings out these fatal flaws in US Grand strategic formulations where a number of complex factors brought about a ‘quagmire’ from which there seems no escape except to ‘cut and run’.
Who is in Control of American Grand Strategy?
The research has clearly established that American Grand strategy has been variously controlled by the Sate department, DOD, NSC depending upon who had a greater rapport and influence with the President. Irrespective of which department had a greater say, the American system rests the final responsibility and accountability for all foreign policy decisions on the President. In the case of Iraq, the research shows that American Grand strategy in the Bush administration had been influenced by neoconservatives and proponents of American hegemony.
The Defense secretary placed more faith in external core groups than the generals in the US military. On the operative level, in the case of Iraq, US Grand strategy had predominantly been controlled by the DOD with the State department and the NSC playing a secondary role.
The Reasons why America went to War with Iraq
The research paper has clearly established that America went to war in Iraq due to a complex set of factors. The primary cause for invasion of Iraq was undoubtedly Iraq’s oil. Though statistics tell that Iraqi oil just accounted for 12 % of the American imports, its potential as having vast reserves, proven and unknown, which have been barely exploited is a reason enough to attempt total control over its oil.
Control of Iraqi oil was deemed necessary as it was widely feared after Saddam Hussein’s successful attempt at receiving part payment of oil for food program revenues in Euros that Iraq may convert oil trade from Dollar to Euros, a move seconded by Iran which later could lead to a domino effect of oil producing countries to convert to Euros thereby undermining American currency’s dominance of the global oil markets. Control of Iraqi oil would also serve as a hedge against any further adventurism by OPEC whose previous oil embargoes had caused recession in American economy as well as global recession.
The Middle East represented a crucial region in the Eurasian land mass, the control of which was posited crucial over American global hegemony. Such Grand strategic formulations viewed Middle East trouble spots as region which could spiral into violence and instability if not controlled. Iraq offered an easier target being ruled by an unpopular dictator than Iran and thus easier to invade.
The personal stakes of the Bush administration elite in Iraqi oil too played an important role in deciding to go to war. All the decision makers in the Bush administration starting with the President himself, the Vice President, the National security advisor the deputy secretary fro defense had connection with the US oil industry who had lost its stake in Iraq during the Saddam years and now wanted it back. Also, Saddam’s policies of awarding contracts to the competitors of US oil companies while denying them the same was viewed as a threat to American oil interests globally.
The President’s personal Manichean views of Good, Bad, Evil and his affirmation to righteous ‘Christian’ beliefs also played an important role in the decision to go to war with Iraq. Bush believed that Saddam was an evil man, a dictator who oppressed his people and Bush, the leader of the free world had to take action. Having once decided, based on his ‘gut feeling’ that the course of action was the right thing to do, Bush brooked no reasoned dissent and gave the orders to carry out the invasion. Thus the personal beliefs and psychological traits of the President too a large extent precipitated the decision to go to war with Iraq.
Adding catalyst to the President’s personal predilection, was the presence of a large number of neoconservatives in the administration who had links with neoconservative thinkers and retired military personnel out side the administration who believed that American hegemony in the Persian Gulf would best be served by having a direct foothold in the oil producing region and that Iraq was the best target having given the US sufficient excuses with its belligerence. As a result analyses and decision making in the Bush administration was one sided leaning heavily to the conservative lobby rather than the liberal lobby.
Intelligence reporting was also faulty. The dossier on Iraq’s support to terrorist organizations such as the Al Qaeda and its links to the 9/11 were tenuous and far fetched. Yet the dossier on such activity was couched in ambiguous terms that made the charge believable. Even more tenuous was the charge that Iraq was developing WMD, the intelligence agencies outdid each other in providing alarmist analyses which were again couched in ambiguous language which if taken at face value conveyed the general feeling that Iraq was indeed acquiring WMDs.
The lack of faith in intelligence summaries provided to by the intelligence agencies was also another cause. The secretary defense and the NSA had always believed that intelligence agencies deliberately downplayed the seriousness of any issue till it was really bad on ground. Hence ant intelligence summary was construed to be a watered down version of reality and thus required to be magnified beyond the scope of the material provided. This presumption also played a role in arriving at the conclusion that Iraq had indeed supported terrorist organizations against the US as also was developing WMDs.
At the operational level, the Secretary defense’s belief that Iraq could be won quickly and cheaply contributed greatly in arriving at the decision to go to war. Rumsfeld had always been a proponent of transformative approach to warfare where a small mobile force, harnessing the overwhelming technological superiority, firepower and airpower could win a war. ‘Shock’ and ‘Awe’ thus would help America win the war with barely 170,000 troops that would be reduced to 40,000 within months became the operational philosophy that egged the decision to go to war. Had American leadership listened to the wiser counsel and professional assessment of Army General Eric Shinseki that at least 500,000 troops were required to stabilize a post war Iraq, America may not invaded Iraq.
Coupled with all the reasons above was the abysmal lack of cultural sensitization to Iraqi socio-cultural dynamics played an important role in the decision to go to war. Wolfowitz was on record to state that there had been no ethnic strife in Iraq. The belief was therefore, that Americans would be welcomed as liberators and the Iraqis would gratefully embrace democracy. No attempt was made to factor the historical Shia Sunni divide which is rooted in an ancient past which every Middle Eastern man knows can never be reconciled as the differences are existential in nature. Coupled to the Shia Sunni divide is also the Shia-Sunni-Kurdish divide in Iraq which again has no solution and definitely no ‘western’ solution.
The complex set of factors that led to the decision to invade Iraq could have been avoided had there existed a more balanced decision making structural framework in the Bush administration. The dominance of the DOD points to a systemic flaw in the organizational framework required for higher policy formulation in the US administration. The complexities of global geopolitics therefore necessitate that the US foreign policy framework evolve comprehensively wherein all expertise resident within the country and abroad can be made available in time to arrive at the right decisions. This research paper suggests a model that could help the US administration provide a more optimum framework for higher policy formulations.
Recommended Changes to Organizational Framework
The author of this paper opines that a cohesive Grand strategy requires foreign policy decision framework centered on the NSC as the best way forward. Inclusion of a feedback loop for the administration as well as the inclusion of the Department of Homeland Security to the NSC is necessary for providing a balanced view. Linkages with the media and the public are required on a formal platform which would include think tank institutions resident in America and the world. The model as depicted below could form the basis for the new framework.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The membership of the NSC requires suitable augmentation with Secretary Homeland Defense being made a statutory member. A feedback loop emanating from the media and formal public opinion platforms is important as “quantitative analyses by students of public opinion have found, for example, that 62 percent of U.S. foreign policies changed in the same direction as public opinion”115
Refers to Page 29.
UN Security Council Resolutions on Iraq.
82. Resolution 1790 (2007). Extends the mandate for multinational forces to remain in Iraq until the end of 2008.
81. Resolution 1770 (2007). Renews and expands the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq. The original mandate, as laid out in 2003 (by resolutions 1483 and 1500), and so was suited to a country ruled entirely by the occupying army. This new resolution retargets the UNAMI mandate to one of helping the Government of Iraq. It also requires UNAMI to work on helping refugees, on economic reform, and various other tasks.
80. Resolution 1762 (2007). Abolishes the UN programmes searching for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq – namely UNMOVIC and the IAEA’s operations in Iraq. Some $60m in Iraqi oil revenue from the Saddam era, currently held under the Oil for Food programme to fund WMD inspection work, will be transferred to the Development Fund for Iraq.
79. Resolution 1723 (2006). Extends the mandate of the international force in Iraq until the end of 2007, using language essentially identical to that of the previous year’s resolution 1637.
78. Resolution 1700 (2006). The annual renewal of the mandate of the UN Mission for Iraq. Proposed by the US and UK, adopted unanimously.
77. Resolution 1637 (2005). It extends the mandate of the multinational force in Iraq until December 2006, though it includes the proviso that this mandate should be reviewed by the Iraqi government no later than the 2006.
76. Resolution 1619 (2005). Extends the mandate of UNAMI (the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq) for 12 months. Resolution drafted by the US, and unanimously accepted.
75. Resolution 1557 (2004). Extends the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) for twelve months.
74. Resolution 1546 (2004). Important resolution. Endorses the formation of the interim government, welcomes the end of the occupation and the prospect of elections in January 2005. It also reaffirms the authorization for the multinational force under unified command established under resolution 1511 (2003) and decides that the multinational force shall have the authority to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq in accordance with the Iraqi request for the continued presence of the multinational force.
73. Resolution 1518 (2003). Establishes a committee (the 1518 committee) to identify resources which should be transferred to the Development Fund for Iraq.
72. Resolution 1511 (2003). This resolution mandates the UN to ‘strengthen its vital role in Iraq, ‘underscores…the temporary nature of the Coalition Provisional Authority’, welcomes the Governing Council and its ministers as “the principal bodies of the Iraqi interim administration”, and supports moves towards self-government under its auspices.
71. Resolution 1500 (2003). Establishes UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, as proposed by the Secretary General in a report, Welcomes creation of Governing Council.
70. Resolution 1490 (2003). Disbands the UN Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM), and removes the demilitarised zone between Iraq and Kuwait.
69. Resolution 1483 (2003). Lifts non-military sanctions, Recognises Britain and the United States as occupying powers (‘The Authority’), and calls on them to attempt to improve security and stability, and provide opportunities for the Iraqis to determine their political future.
68. Resolution 1476 (2003).
67. Resolution 1472 (2003). Gives UN more authority to administer the “oil for food” programme for the next 45 days.
66. Resolution 1454 (2002): Iraq-Kuwait. Implements revisions to the Goods Review List.
65. Resolution 1447 (2002): Iraq-Kuwait. Extends the oil-for-food programme by 6 months, obliges the council to review the goods review list within one month and asks the Secretary General to produce a report on the adequacy of Iraq’s distribution mechanisms within the country and oil-for-food revenues within six months.
64. Resolution 1443 (2002): Iraq-Kuwait. Extends the oil-for-food programme by 9 days only, due to disagreements over US proposals to broaden the Goods Review List.
63. Resolution 1441 (2002): Iraq-Kuwait.
62. Resolution 1409 (2002): Iraq-Kuwait. Extends the oil-for-food programme by six months, and introduces a new import procedure.
61. Resolution 1382 (2001): Iraq-Kuwait. Extends the oil-for-food programme by 180 days, commencing Phase XI.
60. Resolution 1360 (2001): Iraq-Kuwait. Extends the oil-for-food programme by 150 days to begin Phase X.
59. Resolution 1352 (2001): Iraq-Kuwait. Extends Phase IX of the oil-for-food programme by one month only.
58. Resolution 1330 (2000): Iraq-Kuwait. Extends the oil-for-food programme by 180 days, to commence Phase IX.
57. Resolution 1302 (2000): Iraq-Kuwait. Begins Phase VIII of “oil for food”.
56. Resolution1293 (2000): Iraq-Kuwait. Doubles permitted oil spare part imports for Phases VI and VII.
55. Resolution 1284 (1999): Iraq-Kuwait. Replaces UNSCOM with UNMOVIC, demands Iraqi co-operation on prisoners of war, alters the “oil for food” programme, and discusses the possible suspension of sanctions in ambiguous terms.
54. Resolution 1281 (1999): Iraq-Kuwait. Begins Phase VII of “oil for food”.
53. Resolution 1280 (1999): Iraq-Kuwait. Extends Phase VI to 11 December 1999 due to wrangling over SCR 1284.
52. Resolution 1275 (1999): Iraq-Kuwait. Extends Phase VI to 4 December 1999 due to wrangling over SCR 1284.
51. Resolution 1266 (1999): Iraq-Kuwait. Allows an additional $3.04 billion in oil sales to offset deficits during previous Phases and (possibly) to slow the rise in oil prices.
50. Resolution 1242 (1999): Iraq-Kuwait. Begins Phase VI of “oil for food”.
49. Resolution 1210 (1998): Iraq-Kuwait. Begins Phase V of “oil for food”.
48. Resolution 1205 (1998): Iraq-Kuwait. Echoes SCR 1194, demands that the Iraqi government “provide immediate, complete and unconditional cooperation” with inspectors and alludes to the threat to “international peace and security” posed by the non-cooperation.
47. Resolution 1194 (1998): Iraq-Kuwait. Condemns the decision by Iraq… to suspend cooperation with [Unscom] and the IAEA”, demands that the decisions be reversed and cancels October 1998 scheduled sanctions review.
46. Resolution 1175 (1998): Iraq-Kuwait. Gives Iraq permission to apply to import up to $300 million of oil industry spare parts this Phase to allow it to increase its oil production to the cap set in SCR 1153.
45. Resolution 1158 (1998): Iraq-Kuwait. Continues Phase III but under the enhanced provisions of SCR 1153.
44. Resolution 1154 (1998): Iraq-Kuwait. Commends the Secretary-General for securing commitments from the Iraqi government to fully comply with weapons inspections on his mission to Baghdad, and endorses the memorandum of understanding (S/1998/166) that was signed. This agreement put off US and British bombing threats.
43. Resolution 1153 (1998): Iraq-Kuwait. Agrees to increase the cap on permitted Iraqi oil sales to $5.256 billion per Phase once the Secretary-General has approved an “enhanced distribution plan” for the new revenue.
42. Resolution 1143 (1997): Iraq-Kuwait. Begins Phase III of “oil for food”, to start on 5 December 1997 and welcomes the Secretary-General’s intention to submit a supplementary report on possible improvements in the “oil for food” programme.
41. Resolution 1137 (1997): Iraq-Kuwait. Rejects Iraqi government’s announced intention to prohibit weapons inspections unless the composition of Unscom teams is altered to limit the number of inspectors from the US, and to prohibit Unscom overflights. Imposes travel ban on officials to be lifted when full cooperation resumes. Sanctions review to be in April 1998 if cooperation has been restored.
40. Resolution 1134 (1997): Iraq-Kuwait. Reaffirms Iraq’s obligations to cooperate with weapons inspectors after Iraqi officials announce in September 1997 that “presidential sites” are off-limits to inspectors. Threatens travel ban on obstructive Iraqi officials not “carrying out bona fide diplomatic assignments or missions” if non-cooperation continues. Sanctions reviews again delayed.
39. Resolution 1129 (1997): Iraq-Kuwait. Alters timing of permitted Phase II oil sales in response to Iraqi government’s refusal to sell oil until its Distribution Plan was approved by the UN.
38. Resolution 1115 (1997): Iraq-Kuwait. Condemns the repeated refusal of the Iraqi authorities to allow access to sites” and “[d]emands that [they] cooperate fully” with Unscom. Suspends the sanctions and arms embargo reviews (paragraphs 21 and 28 of SCR 687) until the next Unscom report and threatens to “impose additional measures on those categories of Iraqi officials responsible for the non-compliance”.
37. Resolution 1111 (1997): Iraq-Kuwait. Begins Phase II of “oil for food”, to start 1997.
36. Resolution 1060 (1996): Iraq. On Iraq’s refusal to allow access to sites designated by the Special Commission.
35. Resolution 1051 (1996): Iraq. Establishes mechanism for long-term monitoring of potentially “dual use” Iraqi imports and exports, as called for by SCR 715.
34. Resolution 986 (1995): Iraq. New “oil for food” resolution, allowing $1 billion in oil sales every 90 days.
33. Resolution 949 (1994): Iraq-Kuwait. Condemns recent military deployments by Iraq in the direction of… Kuwait”, demands an immediate withdrawal and full co-operation with Unscom. According to a spokesman for the US Central Command, the resolution was passed following a threatening buildup of Iraqi forces near the border with Kuwait, and bars Iraq from moving SAMs into the southern no-fly zone.
32. Resolution 899 (1994): Iraq-Kuwait. Allows compensation to private Iraqi citizens who lost assets to the boundary demarcation process.
31. Resolution 833 (1993): Iraq-Kuwait. The Iraqi National Assembly recognised the territorial integrity and political independence of the State of Kuwait, within the boundaries laid down by the Boundary Demarcation Commission, on 10 November 1994, and its decision was ratified in a decree signed by Saddam Hussein on the same day.
30. Resolution 806 (1993): Iraq-Kuwait. Arms UNIKOM to prevent border incursions by Iraq.
29. Resolution 778 ( 1992): Iraq-Kuwait. Deplores Iraq’s refusal to implements SCRs 706 and 712 and recalls Iraq’s liabilities. Takes steps to transfer funds (including Iraqi assets overseas) into the UN account established to pay for compensation and humanitarian expenses.
28. Resolution 773 (1992): Iraq-Kuwait. Responds to a report on progress by the UN Iraq-Kuwait Boundary Demarcation Commission and notes that the Commission “is not reallocating territory between Kuwait and Iraq”.
27. Resolution 715 (1991): Iraq. Approves the plans of Unscom and the IAEA, including for long term monitoring. Iraq agreed to the monitoring system established by this resolution on 26 November 1993.
26. Resolution 712 (1991): Iraq. Rejects the Secretary-General’s suggestion that at least $2 billion in oil revenue be made available for humanitarian needs; instead allows total sale of $1.6 billion. Eventually rejected by Government of Iraq.
25. Resolution 707 (1991): Iraq. Condemns Iraq’s non-compliance on weapons inspections as a “material breach” of Resolution 687, and incorporates into its standard for compliance with SCR687 that Iraq provide “full, final and complete disclosure… of all aspects of its programmes to develop” prohibited weaponry. Also grants permission for Unscom and the IAEA to conduct flights throughout Iraq, for surveillance or logistical purposes.
24. Resolution 706 (1991): Iraq-Kuwait. Decides to allow emergency oil sale by Iraq to fund compensation claims, weapons inspection and humanitarian needs in Iraq.
23. Resolution 705 (1991): Iraq. Decides that… compensation to be paid by Iraq… shall not exceed 30 per cent of the annual value of the exports.
22. Resolution 700 (1991): Iraq-Kuwait. Approves the Secretary-General’s guidelines on an arms and dual-use embargo on Iraq and calls upon states to act consistently with them.
21. Resolution 699 (1991): Iraq. Approves the Secretary-General’s plan for Unscom and the IAEA and asks for support from Member States.
20. Resolution 692 (1991): Iraq-Kuwait. Establishes the UN Compensation Commission and asks the Secretary-General to indicate the maximum possible level of Iraq’s contribution to the Compensation Fund.
19. Resolution 689 (1991): Iraq-Kuwait. Approves the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM).
18. Resolution 688 (1991): Iraq. Condemns the repression of the Iraqi civilian population in the post-war civil war and demands that Iraq… immediately end this repression. 688 is occasionally claimed to provide the legal basis for the American and British “no fly zones”. These claims are incorrect both because 688 does not invoke Chapter VII of the UN Charter, a necessary condition for the use of force, and because it does not authorise specific measures to uphold human rights in Iraq, such as “no fly zones”.
17. Resolution 687 (1991): Iraq-Kuwait. Declares effective a formal cease-fire (upon Iraqi acceptance), establishes the UN Special Commission on weapons (Unscom), extends sanctions and, in paragraphs 21 and 22, provides ambiguous conditions for lifting or easing them. The fourth preambulary clause, on “the need to be assured of Iraq’s peaceful intentions”, has been referred to as the “Saddam Hussein clause” as it has been used to link the continuation of sanctions with the survival of the present Iraqi regime.
16. Resolution 686 (1991): Iraq-Kuwait. Affirms the “independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq” and sets out terms for a cease-fire. The use of force remains valid to fulfil these conditions.
15. Resolution 685 (1991): Iraq-Islamic Republic of Iran.
14. Resolution 678 (1990): Iraq-Kuwait. Authorizes Member States to use all necessary means to bring Iraq into compliance with previous Security Council resolutions if it did not do so by 15 January 1991.
13. Resolution 677 (1990): Iraq-Kuwait. Concerned by Iraq’s attempts to “alter the demographic composition of… Kuwait and to destroy the civil records”.
12. Resolution 676 (1990): Iraq-Islamic Republic of Iran.
11. Resolution 674 (1990): Iraq-Kuwait. “Reminds Iraq that… it is liable for any loss… as a result of the invasion… of Kuwait”.
10. Resolution 671 (1990): Iraq-Islamic Republic of Iran.
9. Resolution 670 (1990): Iraq-Kuwait. Strengthens and clarifies the embargo; confirms that it applies to aircraft.
8. Resolution 669 (1990): Iraq-Kuwait. Asks the Sanctions Committee to consider requests for economic assistance from countries harmed by the sanctions on Iraq.
7. Resolution 667 (1990): Iraq-Kuwait. Protests “the closure of diplomatic and consular missions in Kuwait”.
6. Resolution 666 (1990): Iraq-Kuwait. “Decides [to]… keep the situation regarding foodstuffs… under constant review”, giving the Security Council responsibility for determining when “humanitarian circumstances” had arisen.
5. Resolution 665 (1990): Iraq-Kuwait. Imposes a shipping blockade by calling for the use of “such measures… as may be necessary” to enforce the maritime embargo. In effect, this resolution reassigns some of the practical responsibility for monitoring compliance with sanctions away from the UN machinery, in the form of the 661 committee, and to the States imposing the naval blockade.
4. Resolution 664 (1990): Iraq-Kuwait. Demands that Iraq release “third state nationals”.
3. Resolution 662 (1990): Iraq-Kuwait. Decides that Iraq’s annexation of Kuwait is “null and void”.
2. Resolution 661 ( 1990): Iraq-Kuwait. Imposes comprehensive sanctions on Iraq and establishes a sanctions committee (the “661 committee”) in paragraph 6 to monitor them. Paragraphs 3 and 4 drawn from those of SCR 253.
Resolution 660 (1990): Iraq-Kuwait. Condemns the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and demands Iraq’s immediate and unconditional withdrawal.
- UN Security Council website, “UN Security Council Resolution 660”, OpenElement (2009). Web.
- Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Strategy. (2009). Web.
- Stephen D Biddle, “American Grand Strategy After 9/11 Attacks: An Assessment,” 1, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College. Web.
- Oxford online dictionary, Imperialism. 2009. Web.
- Christopher Layne, The Peace of Illusions: American Grand Strategy from 1940 to the Present, (NY: Cornell University Press, 2006), 28.
- The end of the Second World War led to the rise of the Soviet Union as a rising superpower that threatened to outstrip American power worldwide. The American led Containment strategy aimed at limiting the geo-political power of the Soviet Union and check the spread of Communism across the world. The Containment strategy included an ideological basis of spreading democracy everywhere as a counter to the Soviet strategy of spreading the Russian revolution across the globe.
- Avery Goldstein, From Bandwagon to Balance-of-Power Politics: Structural Constraints and Politics in China, 1949-1978,(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991), 5.
- A Balancing strategy comprises of two essential parts; Internal balancing and External balancing. Internal balancing occurs when a state strengthens itself via greater mobilization of resources within its own borders, for example, by spending more on defense, improving the quality of the materiel purchased through that spending, or fielding a larger military. An External balancing strategy looks at forming a coalition of countries to balance the threat posed by a competing nation. Balancing strategies have been used by nations across history and a possible example of future external balancing strategy may involve a coalition of China and Russia to balance American Power.
- When a nation is faced with external threats that threaten their very existence, nations may opt to align with a nation or a comity of nations that best offer the guarantee of safety. Bandwagoning is the strategy of the weak in which the nations opting to bandwagon do so from a position of weakness.
- M Clarke, ‘The Foreign Policy System: A Framework for Analysis’, in M. Clarke and B. White (eds) Understanding Foreign Policy: The Foreign Policy Systems Approach (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 1989),.27–59.
- Simply defined, Unilateralism means ‘going at it alone’, of taking independent action without recourse to consensus building or acceptance of the policy by international organizations such as the United Nations. The American invasion of Iraq is one such example of unilateralism. Unilateralism is the strategy of the strong and only the top tier of world powers can successfully execute such a strategy. Unilateralism invariably draws opposition from friends and foes alike.
- Preemptive strategy draws its strength from international law that allows for ‘self defense’ and ‘anticipatory self defense’. American strategy in invading Iraq was in part based on this strategy of preemption to prevent Saddam Hussein from developing Weapons of Mass Destruction. In itself, such a preemptive strategy is justifiable under international law provided the necessity for embarking upon such a strategy can be supported by incontrovertible proof.
- Multilateralism aims at building consensus amongst the comity of nations for taking any cogent action. Multilateralism, being an inclusive strategy helps develop legitimacy for actions taken. Multilateralism however, is a slower process as consensus building requires time, referral back to individual country’s domestic audience, compulsions and national interests and a compromise by all parties agreeing to abide by a multilateralist strategy. Multilateralism increases short term risks but offers a more stable long term outlook to a developing international situation.
- Federation of American Scientists. “National Security Presidential Directives”, 2001, FAS Website. Web.
- Alfred Thayer Mahan’s (1840-1914) seminal work, The Influence of Seapower Upon History, 1660-1783 published in 1890 proclaimed the superiority of sea power over land power and has been the driving force of American Grand strategy ever since. Mahan’s tenets affecting sea power of nations namely geographical position, physical conformation, extent of territory, number of population, character of the people and the character of the government have been modified over time but still retain their relevance in modern geopolitics. Mahan’s basic postulates that protection of shipping in peace and war required strong navy and outlying bases abroad remain unchanged as fundamentals of US Grand strategy to date. So great has been the Mahanian influence that the US navy became the main vehicle for propagating American foreign policy objectives globally, a truism that has been continued till present day. It is therefore no mistake that the US Central Command is located at Bahrain covering the Middle East and has played a central role in the conduct of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Sir Julian Stafford Corbett (1854-1922) contribution, Some Principles of Maritime Strategy provided a fresh look at conduct of maritime warfare for achieving political objectives. In this, Corbett adopted the Clausewitzian precept that” war is a continuation of state policies by other means” to include the maritime domain and the concepts of ‘Command of the Sea’, which in today’s parlance translates to the naval concepts of ‘Sea Control’. Corbett’s postulate that “since men live upon the land and not upon the sea, great issues between nation’s at war have always been decided – except in the rarest cases – either by what your army can do against your enemy’s territory and national life or else by the fear of what the fleet makes it possible for your army to do” has been a part and parcel of American Grand strategy down the ages and have been incorporated in subsequent strategy documents that have emanated from US administrations from time to time.
- John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment, (Oxford:Oxford University Press, 2005), 24.
- Sir, Halford Mackinder (1861-1947) in 1904 propounded the Heartland Theory that posited that the ‘world island’ comprised of Europe, Asia and Africa and that most of the resources lay centered on the Russian land mass. The outer rim comprised of the island nations and the Americas but the heartland as such lay in Eurasia and thus whoever ruled Eurasia ruled the world. Mackinder’s assertion at the beginning of the twentieth century changed the concept of closed international system of the 19th century to an idea of world domination as a viable political aim with the geographical pivot centering on the ‘heartland’ of Eurasia. Mackinder’s Heartland Theory changed the ways geopolitics was conducted thereafter and greatly influenced Nazi Germany’s strategists who sought to conquer the Russian land mass in their quest for world domination. Their subsequent defeat reinforced the Soviets perception of the centrality of the Russian landmass that then embarked on a predominant continental outlook.
- Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives, (NY:Harper Collins, 1997), p. xiii.
- Department of Navy, Forward…From The Sea, 1994. Web.
- Alejandros Colas and Richard Saull, The War on Terror and the American ‘Empire’ after the Cold War, (NY: Routledge, 2006), 58.
- US Marine Corp, US Navy and US Coast Guard, A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower, 2007. Web.
- Pernin et. al, “Unfolding the Future of the Long War: Motivations, Prospects, and Implications for the US Army”, RAND Corporation, 2008. Web.
- Ezra Vogel, Ming Yuan and Akhihiko Tanaka, The Golden Age of the US-China-Japan Triangle, 1972-1989, (Cambridge:Harvard University Press, 2002), 58.
- An Engagement strategy is used when a direct adversarial strategy yields lesser payoffs or has a lesser chance of succeeding. Engagement strategy seeks to find avenues of cooperation and engagement with a possible adversary to produce a more stable global geopolitical system and maintain the balance of power. The US engagement strategy with respect to China initiated in the 70s by the Ford administration is one such example of an engagement strategy.
- An engagement strategy in isolation can never produce the optimum payoffs that a nation might wish to acquire. Pure engagement might make the adversary much stronger than desired and therefore it is necessary to have a ‘hedge’ against such occurrence. A Hedging strategy may include building relations with nations that may have inimical relations with the nation being engaged.
- Oystein Tunsjo, US Taiwan Policy: Constructing the Triangle, (NY:Routledge, 2008), 112.
- Graeme Dobell, “China and Taiwan in the South Pacific: Diplomatic Chess Versus Pacific Political Rugby” 2007. Web.
- David Charter, “Russia Threatens Military Response to US Missile Defence Deal”, Times Online, 2008. Web.
- Tony Halpin, “Russian navy arrives in Venezuela to 21-gun salute”, Times Online, 2008. Web.
- Federation of American Scientists, “Status of Nuclear Weapons States and Their Nuclear Capabilities”, FAS website, 2008. Web.
- Colas and Saull, 6.
- Fareed Zakaria, “Victory in Iraq, Newsweek, 2009, Vol CL III No. 24, 23.
- Vassilis K. Fouskas and Bülent Gökay, The New American Imperialism: Bush’s War on Terror and Blood for Oil,(Westport: Praeger Security International, 2005), 2.
- ibid, 48.
- National Energy Policy Development Group, National Energy Policy,( Washington: US Government Printing Office, 2001), X.
- Ibid, 1-10, 1-11.
- API, “Tax and Trade”. Web.
- Energy Information Administration, “Persian Gulf Oil Export Fact Sheet”, 2000. Web.
- Ibid, 8-4.
- Ibid, 8-4.
- Ibid, 8-5.
- Ibid, 8-12.
- UNCTAD, “Review of Maritime Transport 2008”, 12. Web.
- Intifada literally means an uprising, a term used to describe the collective revolt of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories of West bank and Gaza Strip.
- Greg Palast, “Secret US Plans for US Oil”, BBC News, 2005. ¶7. Web.
- Baker Institute Study, “Strategic Energy Policy: Challenges for the 21st Century”, No. 15, 2001. Web.
- Brzezenski, 31.
- Ibid, 40.
- Ibid, 53.
- ibid, 41.
- NJ Smelser, and F Mitchell, Terrorism: Perspectives from the Behavioral and Social Sciences, (Washington DC: National Academies Press,2002), 14.
- Carlos Marighela, MiniManual of the Urban Guerrilla. Web.
- ibid, ¶5.
- Are Knudsen, “Political Islam in the Middle East”, 2003. Web.
- Rabasa, Angel, Cheryl Benard and Peter Chalk. The Muslim world after 9/11, (Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, 2004), 225.
- Brzezinski, 53-54.
- The Economist, ” The Benefits and the Curse of Oil”, 2008 Vol 388 No. 8593. (New York: The Economist Newspaper Limited. 2008), 42.
- James A Paul, “Oil Companies in Iraq”, Global Policy Forum 2003, ¶14. Web.
- Ibid, ¶40.
- Ibid, ¶24.
- Colum Lynch, “Commerce With Baghdad Grows Quietly as Washington Urges Regime Change” 2000. Web.
- The Enegry Information Administration, “Iraq” 2009. Web.
- Paul, ¶37.
- Ibid, ¶ 56-57.
- Andrew E Kramer, “Deals With Iraq Are Set to Bring Back Oil Giants”, The New York Times, 2008. Web.
- Andrew Herod, Geographies of Globalization, (NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 196.
- William R Clark, Petrodollar War, (Gabriola Island, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2005), 136.
- Ibid, 137.
- Ibid 151.
- Barry M Rubin, Crises in the Contemporary Persian Gulf, (NY: Routledge, 2002), 185.
- Ibid 185.
- Joseph A Christoff, “Observations on the Oil for Food Program”, 2004. Web.
- Rubin, 193.
- Greg Cashman and Leonard C Robinson, An Introduction to the Causes of War, (Rowman &Littlefield:Lanham, 2007),329.
- ibid, 330.
- Ibid, 314.
- Bob Woodward, The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008, (NY: Simon & Schuster, 2008), 433.
- Ibid, 433.
- Cashman and Robinson, 335.
- Ian Shapiro, Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy Against Global Terror, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 23-25.
- Woodward, 431.
- Andrew Sullivan, “Blame Rummy For a War Plan that Went Wrong”, Times online. 2006. Web.
- Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack, (NY: Simon & Schuster, 2004), 269-274.
- Cashman and Robinson, 306.
- Ibid, 308.
- Ibid, 309.
- Ibis, 311.
- The Federation of American Scientists, “Key Judgments from 2002 NIE”. Web.
- Cashman and Robinson, 319.
- Ibid, 324.
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