The Iraq War as a Failure to Bargain
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Lake as well challenges the two-player game model of bargaining theory, which only looks at a pair of states, A and B, interacting. He contends that this view is oversimplified and does not account for other external actors that states A and B may be influenced by. The Iraqi regime did so because they were afraid of emboldening regional adversaries such as Iran into becoming more aggressive towards them.
These sorts of signaling complexities are not present in an A and B model. The cost of the Iraq War is considerably less if one were to only look at it in the frame of major military operations. However, the cost of the post-war reconstruction phase becomes significantly higher. Therefore, if the entirety of the cost were considered during the bargaining phase, the decision to go to war would have looked much less attractive.
Finally the assumption that states act rationally overlooks the fact that the people leading them may be affected by deep cognitive biases that can severely affect their judgment. Lake argues that President Bush and his administration made assumptions that were based on previously conceived beliefs. Additionally, groupthink and an aversion to dissenting opinions were decisive factors in not fully assessing the potential costs of the war and deciding to invade Iraq. Based upon these findings, Lake suggests that bargaining theory incorporate four changes in order to make it a stronger model for assessing conflicts:.
Lake concludes by laying out the main failures of the Bush Administration in its approach to the Iraq War and suggests two main policy improvements:. In this essay Hegghammer attempts to define foreign fighters, in the context of Muslim conflicts, more clearly and to lay out the reasons behind an increase in the foreign fighter presence in such conflicts since the s. Of the eighteen conflicts in the post Muslim world that involved foreign fighters sixteen occurred after There are six plausible hypotheses for why there was such a drastic increase in foreign fighter involvements after Hegghammer believes that while these first five reasons may very well contribute to the increase of foreign fighter presence in Muslim world conflicts since , they do not fully account for it individually.
He believes that the 6th possibility is the best explanation. After , a distinct new ideological sub movement emerged within Islam that did not exist prior. Hegghammer finds that there is a significant overlap in personnel, recruitment literature, and funding sources within this movement. This overlap established strong ideological, social, and organizational links.
To further test the sixth hypothesis, he examines recruitment propaganda from Muslim world conflicts involving foreign fighters in that time period. He finds a trend within the propaganda that consists of a diagnosis that the Muslim nation faces an external threat, a prognosis that Muslims need to fight back militarily in the subject area, and a rational that Islamic Law requires all able bodied men to join the fight.
The common theme is the appeal to Islamic Law and the unity of Muslims over a common enemy. This differs from existing jihad doctrines in that it focuses on an outside enemy when Islamist revolutionary doctrine is concerned with the enemy within. As well, it puts more of the responsibility for fighting on the individual where before it was seen as the responsibility of the community. Based on these findings he believes that foreign fighters constitute their own unique subgroup with a distinct ideology from other kinds of violent actors.
He charges that General Westmoreland and the military were forced by Johnson and his advisors to accept such strategies as using heavy firepower to pummel the enemy, which requires large material expenditures, instead of effective counter insurgency and pacification strategies that would have instead required heavy personnel expenditures and loss of life. According to Caverley, Johnson lost the war by investing in strategies that would keep the loss of life low as not to lose public support and thereby denied the military resources it needed to win the war. Caverley extend this line of reasoning to argue that there is an overall trend in democracies being unable to allocate the correct resources to counter insurgency operations for fear of losing support of the electorate.
The military was bound to have the same view as the civilian leadership since they were appointed by them. First, the fact that the South Vietnamese government was unable to hold out on its own is the reason the US was involved in the first place, and therefore cannot be considered a separate factor from the efforts of the US military.
Iraq war: the greatest intelligence failure in living memory - Telegraph
Resnick assesses the U. The hypotheses state that:. Neorealist Hypothesis — The U.
Therefore, since America does not need an ally as much as an ally would need America, the U. Therefore they can say that their hands are tied which constricts their bargaining position to more acceptable options. In that way the United States gains more concessions from its ally and successfully bargains. Neoclassical Realist Hypothesis — The U.
Therefore U. The third hypothesis, however, predicts failure for the U.
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However, when Resnick applies the empirical evidence from the U. Individuals within the State Department, Congress, and special interests constrained the resources of the Regan Administration and prevented it from having the ability to make credible threats or offer incentives. This inhibited any attempt to bargain aggressively. In conclusion, even small allies of convenience with different values than the U. Resnick lays out three policy implications:. T he Iraq War is the war that never ended.
The Iraq War has been a significant issue in every presidential election since it began in It has cast a shadow over every subsequent discussion of whether, where, and how the United States should use force. It has inflamed debates over whether America should recommit itself to an ambitious internationalism or pull back from the Middle East and perhaps the broader world.
It has haunted American statecraft. But it is not clear what America has actually learned from Iraq. Former Iraq War supporters — mostly but not exclusively Republicans — have hesitated to admit some hard truths: that the war was a strategic mistake, that it was flawed not just in initial execution but in conception, that it inflicted an enormous human and financial toll far beyond what its supporters predicted , and that it set off a cascade of damaging consequences that plagued U.
Yet critics of the war — mostly but not exclusively Democrats — have also failed to face some inconvenient facts: that the war was not based on lies or malevolent motives, but rather on a good-faith effort to confront a significant if overestimated threat; that the surge of —08 succeeded in bringing the strategic goal of the war — a stable, friendly, democratic Iraq — within reach; and that the precipitate withdrawal from Iraq in was an avoidable strategic blunder that undercut American policy in the Middle East and far beyond.
Iraq war: the greatest intelligence failure in living memory
Such a reckoning is critical to getting U. Understanding the limits of U.
Yet understanding that squandering the hard-won gains in Iraq was also a blunder — and that the dangers of overlearning the lessons of that conflict are as grave as the dangers of underlearning them — is equally fundamental. For years after that, however, the desire to avoid another Iraq, regardless of the consequences, produced major headaches of its own. The costs of both mistakes have been far too great.
There are no two ways about it: The Iraq War was a tragic mistake. It was also informed by a hubris that resulted from the unexpectedly quick and seemingly decisive victory over al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, which led the Bush administration to dismiss many warnings from outside observers about the impending showdown with Iraq. As these premises and illusions collapsed following the invasion, the United States found that it had stumbled into a conflict in which the benefits were lower than expected and the costs were far higher.
In fairness, not every post-invasion decision was wrongheaded or disastrous. Against formidable odds, U. But the mistakes were numerous, and debilitating in their cumulative effect. As the United States became bogged down in Iraq, a range of other foreign-policy problems worsened. Instead, the Iraq War served as a rallying point for al-Qaeda and its partners, reviving a jihadist movement that had been pummeled in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Iran achieved unprecedented influence within Iraq and throughout much of the Middle East, filling the vacuum the war had created.
After briefly pausing when the Iraq War looked like it might be a rapid success and Iran might be the next target, Tehran also accelerated its nuclear program, taking advantage of American distraction. The regional Sunni—Shia split became fiercer and more violent, exacerbating a conflict that continues to threaten regional stability.
And as the military situation deteriorated in Afghanistan, the United States — increasingly consumed by the turmoil in Iraq — could not spare the resources or attention to stabilize that country, either.
The spillover effects of the Iraq War reached far beyond the greater Middle East. The Kim dynasty ramped up its nuclear program, confident that a distracted United States could not make it stop. Because of the U. The fact that the Iraq War had caused bitter disputes within NATO, and dramatically depleted American prestige and soft power, made these and other problems still more difficult to manage.
Fortunately, the Iraq quagmire and associated distractions did not bring America fully or permanently to its knees. And by the end of his tenure, Bush had significantly weakened al-Qaeda in Iraq — all while avoiding another mass-casualty attack on the U. Nevertheless, for years after the invasion in March , the Iraq War was the geopolitical wound that kept on bleeding, weakening American foreign policy across issues large and small. Yet perhaps the greatest damage was done not abroad but at home. The Iraq War was not — as one critic has alleged — as disastrous a blunder as the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in But it certainly qualifies as one of the costliest U.
For many Americans, of course, these critiques of the Iraq War are not controversial. After all, the two presidents who have followed George W. Bush — one Democratic, one Republican — both ran on foreign-policy platforms that treated the war as strategic folly. Some prominent individuals who initially backed the war — from both inside and outside government — have subsequently acknowledged that they erred in doing so.
And a majority of the American public long ago concluded that the Iraq War was a mistake. Even so, a number of Republicans — both Bush-administration veterans and others who supported the war — have hesitated to face up to its legacy. Both officials continue to argue, explicitly or implicitly, for regime change in Iran — perhaps even forcible regime change — despite the danger that such an endeavor could prove even more costly than the American misadventure in Iraq.
And the Trump administration spent much of and dramatically ramping up tensions with Tehran, despite the danger that doing so could provoke another damaging conflict America cannot afford. The fact that the Iraq War was wrong, however, does not mean that all critiques of it are right. They say it was done to distract the American public from domestic failures, or as a payoff to the oil industry.
They use evidence developed after the invasion, when the United States had unimpeded access to Iraqi territory and regime insiders, to pretend that it should have been obvious that pre-war intelligence estimates were overstating the Iraqi threat. Barack Obama captured this distorted view well in the oft-invoked speech that launched him to national prominence:. What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income — to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.
A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Some were simply unpersuaded that the use of force was the best available option for combating the Iraqi threat. Nonetheless, the more extreme version of the anti-war critique was prominent at the time — and remains prominent more than 15 years after the fact.
It is a gross misrepresentation to claim that the Bush administration did not sincerely believe that Iraq posed a serious threat to U. On the contrary, the Bush administration believed the consensus view of our intelligence community and those of key allies that Iraq still possessed significant stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and retained ambitions to reconstitute lost WMD capabilities, and that the problem was getting worse the longer Saddam was not subject to U. The evidence uncovered by the invasion and the subsequent interrogation of Iraqi officials showed that the administration was wrong to believe the more pessimistic estimates about the nature of that arsenal.