During the immediate post 911 period, President George W. Bush spent ample time addressing the United States and the world on the need to pursue and install democracy in Middle East as a long term strategy to winning the war against terror. This came in the wake of the events of the September 11th terror attack that left America shaken to its core. Such address by President Bush clearly defines in a summary the contemporary US foreign policy on Iraq. This paper will inadvertently analyze the foreign policy of the United States on Iraq.
It will look at the motivation behind such policy, its achievement and the criticism that such a policy has attracted. Iraq has been a core subject in the United States foreign policy of long to an extent that it has been instrumental in shaping domestic and global politics. The nature of the United States foreign policy on Iraq is a reflection of the relationship that these two nations and the kind of the interaction that there leaders have been having.
A look at the past decades of this relationship reveals that it has been full of conflicts and hostility, with the United States being the dominant player and Iraq, despite its immense resources, being on the receiving end although in defiance. The events that have shaped this modern foreign policy began taking shape in the 1980s. In the 1980s, Iraq was under the tutelage of the United States, benefiting from immense economic aid and also non-direct military support.
By the time of the Iran-Iraq war, the United States did not issue sanctions despite Iraq’s bombing of the Kurds; instead it resulted to appeasing the then Iraq leader Saddam Hussein and intervening on his behalf. This relationship soured in the early 1990s after Iraq forces invaded and began an occupation in Kuwait citing unpaid up debts and oil feud. With the takeover highly condemned by the United Nations, the United States moved in with speed by sending its troops to the region signifying the commence of the Operation Desert Storm aimed at dislodging Iraq from Kuwait.
Allied forces led by the United States liberated Kuwait and enforced a United Security Council resolution to dismantle all the held weapons of mass destruction by Iraq through an operation by the United Nations Monitors. The United States in a bid to extend its presence and occupation erected what came to be known as the “no-fly zones” heavily putting a stiff restriction on Iraq’s sense of sovereignty. This would indicate the start of a conflict that has by far come to shape today’s United States foreign policy in Iraq and by extension in the Middle East (Chollet, D.
and James G. , 2008, 33). The United States since the end of the Operation Desert Storm has maintained its presence unleashing a series of air strikes towards Iraq. As a formal protest towards this transgression, Iraq began restricting the presence of the United Nations weapons inspectors terming them as a part of a larger espionage effort by the United States. Air strikes to this region have become a common event since 1993 by both the British and the United States forces.
In a policy that has been sanctioned and appropriately defended by the successive American regimes, the United States has taken over the air space and heavily patrolled Iraq’s naval bases during Saddam’s regime to restrict any movements or any aggression towards Iraq’s neighbors. The United States took an active role in enforcing the sanctions as placed by the Security Council of which it is a key member possessing veto powers. Such sanctions were put in the hope that the hardships experienced would have a resultant effect of producing negative sentiments against Saddam’s rule.
They were counter productive though as they strengthened Saddam’s resolve towards his stand in Iraq. One of the negative sides to the US supported sanction was that they only affected the citizens but not the ruling elite, while producing a generation that was anti-United States (Glenn P. ,2003, 58). The focus of the United State foreign policy as can be obviously discerned has been influenced by two things; terrorism and the first Gulf war.
It is important to note that those that have largely supported the United States policy on Iraq have seen it as a necessary measure to “free up the Middle East military for further actions against Al Qaeda, to liberate the Iraqis people from their danger and establish, “a bunch bed of Arab democracy” (Richard A and Howard F. , 2004, 69). Such arguments have been widely criticized and indeed the United States foreign policy in Iraq has continued to draw mixed controversies with those in support of it being seen as pro war.
There are those that see the United States policy as motivated by self interests and oil needs believing that if successful, such a foreign policy “would prompt US and multinational petroleum giants to rush into Iraq, dramatically increasing the out put of a nation whose oil reserves are second only to that of Saudi Arabia “. (Nafeez M. , 2003, 234). Such sentiments have become prevalent in view of the raging debate over a foreign policy that has led the United States to be on a war path with the rest of the world.
Most people in the world did not see the essence of the United States invasion. Polls taken prior to the commencement of the war had indicated that they did not favor the invasion which they did not see as justified. This would explain why the international community, the likes Russia, China and France failed to support the war, at the backdrop of the growing negative sentiment at home. The United States and the United Kingdom were alone in this war (Robert J. P. , 2005, 23).
It is important though in the same light to analyze Presidents Bush’s fears over the possibility of Iraq harboring terrorists and the presence of weapons of mass destruction. As aforementioned, terrorism and the Gulf War of the early 1990 have had a significant impact on the structure of the current foreign policy towards Iraq. The United States during the Iran/Iraq was as history holds it, playing a crucial role in arming Iraq and probably turned a blind eye as Saddam Hussein stockpiled dangerous arsenals in readiness for an aggression with Iran.
By then, the relations between the US and Iraq were what can be described as cordial with the United states hoping to use Iraq to contain the extremities characterizing Iran. Through this appeasement, Saddam Hussein was becoming dictatorial figure with little concern from the United States. The Kuwait invasion changed all this. With the search for weapons of mass destruction being in the fore several years after the Gulf War, President George W. Bush saw a perfect opportunity to invade Iraq citing the former’s reluctance to allow the search by the United Nations weapons inspectors.
Since then, reference to the WMDs became an important tool in the formulation of foreign policy and in drumming up support for the war at home. The reluctance of the United Nations to sanction a strike against Iraq prompted the United States to near unilaterally take the matter into its own hands and wage war against Iraq. Capturing and hanging Saddam Hussein tragically ending decades’ long rule. The demise of Saddam and the fall of his regime would bring another key phase to the United States foreign policy, centering on how to contain the warning factors and maintain peace (Thomas E.
Ricks, 2006, 54). Whether the terrorist attack by al Qaeda on September 11th prompted the renewed vigor in the foreign policy or it was a mere excuse to end Saddam’s rule is not clear. What is clear is that, the events of 911 prompted a radical shift in the policy of United States towards Iraq (Thomas G. et al, 2003, 86). The United States has been for long grappling with terrorism and maintains a huge list of suspected terrorist organization as well as nations that have links with such terrorist groups, either those that provide them with financial support or operation bases.
The al Qaeda tops this list followed by other terrorist organizations from the Middle East. Indeed the nature of us foreign policy towards Middle East is structured in a way that insinuates that it regards the Middle East as the hot bed of terrorism. A visibly angry President Bush in the wake of the terror attacks warned that “states that harbor terrorists would be subject to military action” further warning the rogue states that in his Bush Doctrine, “either you are with us or you are with the terrorists” (Harvey W. , 2003,401).
This was the vague link that was being used by Bush’s administration in the bid to garner domestic support for a war that proved afterwards to be grossly unpopular. Indeed, a huge portion of the Americas current foreign policy towards Iraq was influenced by this attack. President Bush exhibited an unrestrained impulse to install a new regime in Iraq and hence the excuse of the terror attack was a prefect opportunity. Bush’s administration had gained a lot of support both domestic and international in the war against terror especially directed towards al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
The Afghanistan war commenced immediately after the 911 strike and was unanimously sanctioned by the congress. This was done in the belief that al Qaeda had formed a base in the mountainous region of Afghanistan. By extension, President George W. Bush believed that the existence of an unfriendly regime in Iraq would exacerbate the war against terror. The initial claims by the Bush administration that Saddam was harboring and aiding terrorists could not hold water.
The reasons for the attack are still unclear, as Stefan H and Jonathan C (2005, 155) notes “weapons of mass destruction links with al-Qaeda, human rights abuses – covered a wide and ever changing kaleidoscope”. This is because the claims on the presence of weapons of mass destruction “have been largely discredited and is retrospectively seen as a politically convenient pretext” (155) Indeed the general feeling is that the main reason for this war revolved around oil. It is worth noting that the United States foreign policy took a new turn after the toppling of Saddam Hussein.
The United State had commenced a war without the proper authorization and sanctioning by the United States. With Saddam gone, the war had to be legitimized by installing a democratically elected government. Iraq conducted elections towards the beginning of 2005 under the watch of the United States military. Many argue however that such elections were used to disguise the huge discontent characterizing the Iraqis population with the hope of showing how united they were. History is rife with such examples where elections have been used to show national unity in the face of a brewing conflict underneath.
With the rubberstamp of the United Nations, through the passage of resolution to oversee the elections, the United States had set the terms and conditions of the elections and was keen eyed to ensure that its candidate of choice emerged the winner. The Transitional Administrative Law which is playing a huge role in the governing process of the Iraq’s government, has given the United States a clear mandate, though defacto, to control Iraq. The post Iraq policy has been facing a number of challenges which mostly have been centering on the waging ethnicity in Iraq.
Anna Mulrine (2008) identifies four challenges that are being encountered in the post war policy towards Iraq. The first one is the local militias. The United States has commenced a program that seeks to integrate the local militias into the police force to take advantage of their basic training and loyalty to the government especially the Sunni citizens. This fact however is exacerbated by the fact that these militias owe divided loyalty to both the government and to the insurgents. The rebuilding of Iraq is also hampered by the reduction of US forces in Iraq.
There are plans to slash the number of US Army in Iraq due to the domestic opposition to surge at home. This creates a problem because the general feeling is that the Iraq police are too biased to be left to implement the reconstruction policies alone (Condoleeza R. , 2008, 52). The success of the United States foreign policy towards Iraq has not been largely seen by many especially in the knowledge that the war in Iraq had been largely criticized. Any success garnered so far is overshadowed by the intense criticism and the news of the numerous deaths and attacks suffered by the United States soldiers in a foreign land (Robert J.
P. , 2005, 67). Most protagonists of war identify the toppling of Saddam and his consequent hanging as a major step towards democratization. In the words of President Bush, his toppling was a signal to all dictators that their numbers are numbered. The aim of the war was to make the world a safer place and secure American interests. This however is yet to be achieved as the war against terrorism is far from won. The recent elections and the setting up of a government however may be seen as a success to such policies but the war is yet to be over considering the huge insecurity charactering major towns in Iraq.
United States soldiers are being killed daily and cases of suicide attacks are common, an indication that this war is far from over (Allawi, Ali, 2007, 46). The United States foreign policy has been largely criticized both domestically and internationally. Most of these criticism centers on the military intervention and the justification behind such intervention. Bush administration had misrepresented information on the urgency of the war due to the presence of weapons of mass destruction. This proved to be exercise in futility as the weapons were never found.
The United States decided to take unilateral steps despite there being no evidence to indicate that indeed Iraq possessed WMDs. The links to terrorist could also not be established indicating that the evidence was largely manipulated. The fact that the US invaded Iraq without a proper mandate from the United Nations has also drawn criticism as it was in violation of the resolution 678 which was passed at the height of the Gulf War. Bush’s immense criticism was emanating from the public which led to the decline of the governments approval ratings to below thirty percent making president Bush the most unpopular president to be in office.
International criticism centers on the unilateralism of America and also using democracy and terrorism as a disguise to the pursuits to secure oil resources in Iraq. It is apparent that the United States and Iraq have not been enjoying the best of relations in the past years. To Americans since the gulf war in the early 1990s, Iraq was the biggest threat to the world’s security as long as Saddam Hussein was on the driving seat. The United States foreign policy had been structured to reflect this.
It is this suspicion that would lead the Bush administration to invade Iraq, topple and hang the despotic leader in the bid to install a democratic government in one of the most defiant nation in the Middle East. President Bush used lies and manipulation of evidence to initiate a war that has lead to the down fall of his presidency. The United States effort to install a democratic government and curb insecurity is yet to materialize as it is facing a myriad of challenges in addition to the growing criticism back at home.
Crucial concern now to the United States foreign policy on Iraq is how to maintain peace and stability in a volatile country so as to implement the set program towards reconstruction.
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