You are on page 1of 27

Baylis,, Smith and

d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e

C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003
IR Theory in
n Practice Case Stud
dy: The Ira
aq War, 20003

Section 1

R Theory and
Realist IR a the Ira
aq War

From readding Chapter 6 of The Globalizzation of World

W cs (6th editi on), you sh
Politic hould
now be fa h the basic tenets of R
amiliar with ernational Relations (IR) theory
Realist Inte y. You are
advised to
o consult thhis crucial chapter if you have not
n done so s already as its conttents will
not be rep
peated herre.

Where yo ou see braccketed cha

apter refere
ences, for example (s see ch.4), this refers to the
T Globalization of World Politics (6e.).
relevant cchapter in The


There aree many wayys in which h the decission of the Bush admministration to invade Iraq in
2003 both h fits into - and complicates - traaditional Realist
R acco
ounts of waar and the
international system m. For exam mple, a nummber of prrominent reealist schollars and otthers in
the Unitedd States pa aid for an announcem
a ment in thee New Yorkk Times onn 26 Septe ember
2002 argu uing that, as
a national security sscholars, th hey believe
ed the justi fications fo
or the war
with Iraq d
did not ma atch US national interrests.

In addition
n to readin
ng this secttion, you s hould cons sult the Lib
beralism, MMarxism,
Constructtivist, and Alternative
A e theory se ctions of th he case stu udy for impportant alte
to Realismm. The purrpose of this section is to sugge est ways in n which thee insights you
y will
have learnt from Ch hapter 6 of The Globa alization off World Politics (6e.) illustrate im
aspects oof the Iraq War
W from a Realist perspective e. By no me eans can t he followin ng be an
exhaustivve survey of
o the possible ways Realist inte ernational theory migght help yo ou think
about the 2003 Iraq War. How wever, we w will briefly focus
f on 1) continuiing American
hegemon ny; 2) the 'new
' unila
ateralism' and 3) the e rationalitty of Sadd dam Hussein.

nuing Ame
1) Contin erican Heg

One dime ension of th he Iraq war seems to o confirm an

a importan nt element of the realist
tradition: wwhen the hegemonic
h c power in the internaational system decidees to go to o war,
there is litttle that oth
her nationss and worldd opinion can
c do to stop it. Thee Bush Doc ctrine, the
ideologica al underpin nning of the
e Iraq inva
asion, in the
e words off Richard FFalk, 'repud diates the
core idea of the United Nation ns Charter (reinforced d by decisions of the World Cou urt in The
Hague), w which prohibits any use of inter national fo orce that is not undertrtaken in seelf-
defence a after the occcurrence of o an arme ed attack across
a an in
nternationaal boundarry or
pursuant to a decision of the UN U Securitty Council (2003: 272 2). In the faace of interrnational
(and domestic) dissent, the Un nited State
es invaded and occup pied a soveereign natiion state.

Realists g
generally criticize
c the idea that internation
nal organizations wie ld influence
separate from thosee bestowed d upon the m by powe erful states
s and the ccontention that

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis,, Smith and
d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003
international norms are a significant con nstraint on a state's pursuit of m
material nattional
interests. That the United
U Stattes invadedd Iraq without the consent of thhe United Nations
would see em to suppport this vie
ew. Even inn the face of major criticism of the justifications for
war (and the conseq quences fo or organiza
ations suchh as the UN N), the Bussh adminis stration
did what it desired in
n Iraq. From a realistt perspective, might continues
c tto 'make riight'.

Box 1.1: Bush's Ju

n for War
Iraq continues to fla aunt its hosstility towarrd America
a and to support terroor. The Iraq qi regime
has plotteed to develop anthrax x, and nervve gas, and d nuclear weapons
w foor over a decade.
This is a rregime tha at has alreaady used p poison gas to murder thousandss of its citiz zens…
This is a rregime tha at has some ething to hhide from th
he civilised
d world. Staates like th
hese, and
their terro ng to threaten the peeace of the world.
orist allies, constitute an axis off evil, armin
esident Ge
eorge W. Bush,
B State
e of the Un
nion Addres
ss, 2002.

The main justificatioon for the war

w proffere ed by the US
U and its major allyy Britain waas the
need to divest Sadd dam Husse ein of his w
weapons off mass des struction, wwhich they argued
posed an imminent threat to th he securityy of the Weest. The atttacks on N
New York and
Washington on Sep ptember 11, 2001 revvealed the intent of teerrorists to wreak havvoc with
the murdeer of innocent civilianns. Given thhe alleged links betw
ween the Iraraqi regime
e and
known 'terrorists', th
he greatestt danger inn not overth
hrowing Saaddam andd removing g the
weapons was that th hey would end up be eing used on
o the Wes stern homeeland by te errorists.

However, even befo ore the warr, doubt exxisted abou ut the existtence of larrge stockppiles of
weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, and there t was little evide nce that th
here was
a meaninggful link be
etween Iraq q and the pperpetrators of the 9//11 attackss. This did not stop
US Secreetary of Staate Colin State Powe ll from sug ggesting otherwise in a presentation to
the UN Seecurity Cou uncil. In his
s words, 'Irraqi officials deny accusations of ties with h al-
Qaeda. These denia als are simmply not cre edible… Sa addam bec came moree intereste ed as he
aeda's app
saw al-Qa palling attacks… Amb bition and hatred
h are enough too bring Iraq q and al-
Qaeda toggether, enough so all-Qaeda co ould learn how to build more soophisticated
bombs… and enoug gh so that al-Qaeda ccould turn to Iraq for help in acqquiring exp pertise on
weapons of mass destruction' (2003: 47 76, 477).

Nonetheleess, the wiidespread belief that the public justificatio

on for war ssimply did not
match thee evidence was not sufficient
s to
o prevent thhe US com mmander-inn-chief from m taking
the nation
n to war. To
o paraphra
ase Thucyd dides, the strong did what they willed and d the
weak accepted wha at they mus

In a chaptter on classsical realis

sm, Richarrd Ned Leb bow draws on Thucyddides' treatment of
power politics to disscuss the trragic naturre of classiical realism
m and of thhe Iraq warr in
particular (see ch. 6).

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis,, Smith and
d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003

Box 1.2: Classical Realism and

a the Trragedy of Iraq
Anglo-Am merican inte ervention to overthro w Saddam m Hussein… … is characcterized by y three
features – really patthologies – that are w well-described by classical real ism but to which
modern re ealists are largely oblivious. Th he first has to do with the inabili ty to formu
interests iintelligentlyy and coheerently outsside of a la
anguage off justice. T
The second d is hubris,
and how iit can read dily lead to tragic outccomes thatt are the ve
ery oppositte of those e
intended. The third has to do withw the ch hoice of me eans, and the
t generaally negativ ve
conseque ences of ch hoosing tho ose at odd s with the values of the
t commuunity.
Ricchard Ned Lebow, "C Classical R
Realism," in
n Internatio
onal Relatioons Theoriies:
e and Diverrsity, 2007
7, p. 54

Lebow's a assessmen nt of the Ira

aq war diffe
ers from th
hat of scho
olars who eespouse the tenets
of structural realism
m. His analy ysis shouldd remind us
s, however, of the coonsequenc ces of
power in h a dramattic form (ass opposed to purely systemic
historical and s foormulation
ns), as
well as off the diverssity of the Realist
R trad

2) 'Realis
sm and the
e New Uniilateralism

In an essa ay that origginally apppeared in T

The Nationa al Interest, conservattive commentator
Charles K Krauthamm mer called forf a form o of realism he describ bed as the 'new unilateralism'
in the purrsuit of glob
bal ends. This
T is certtainly a rev
vision of tra
aditional reealist
understan ndings of how
h the inteernational system wo orks, which h holds thaat when a hegemon
emerges other powe ers will ine
evitably ballance against it. Krau uthammer aand the Bu ush
administra ation want to dissuad de future m
military and d political competition
c n from rivall powers
in the effo
ort to achieeve, in the words of th he 2002 National Sec curity Docuument, a 'bbalance of
power tha at favours freedom'.
f The
T United d States su uggested th hat it wouldd be the be
guarantorr of interna ational peac ce and sta
ability, evenn when mu uch of the rrest of the world is
unable to see or resspond to em merging thhreats.

The Bush h administration justiffied the invvasion and occupation of Iraq inn precisely these
terms. In an address to the na ation 48 hoours before e the war was
w due to begin, Pre esident
Bush statted that 'so
ome perma anent mem mbers of thee Security Council haave publicly
announce ed that theyy will veto any resolu ution that compels
c the
e disarmam ment of Ira
aq. These
governme ents share our assessment of t he dangerr, but not our resolve to meet it… … The
United Naations Secu urity Council has nott lived up to o its responsibilities, so we will rise to
ours' (Bussh, 2003: 504).

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis,, Smith and
d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e
C q War, 2003
Studyy: The Iraq

Box 1.3: Krautham

mmer on th
he New Un
The form of realism that I am arguing
a forr – call it th
he new unilateralism – is clear in its
determina ation to sellf-consciou usly and co onfidently deploy
d Ameerican pow wer in the pursuit
p of
those glob bal ends. Note:
N globa
al ends… T The new unilateralism m defines A American interests
far beyond narrow self-defenc
s ce… One ccan hardly argue thatt depriving Saddam (and (
potentiallyy, terroristss) of WMD is not a gllobal end… … The neww unilateral ism argues s explicitly
and unashamedly fo or maintainning unipollarity, for sustaining America's
A uunrivalled
dominancce for the fo oreseeablee future.
harles Krau
uthammer, 'The Unip olar Mome
ent Revisite
ed', 603, 6604, 607.

Although the Unitedd States fra

amed its unnilateralism
m as sometthing proteective of the world
as a whole, Lebow believes
b th
hat it was p
precisely th
his America
an overconnfidence in n its own
power tha
at led to miistakes.

Box 1.4: Hubris an

nd America
an Power
In Greek ttragedies, success anda power are the principal causes of hubbris. US inttoxication
with powe er and disregard, eve en contemp
pt, for the USA's
U trad
ditional alliees and the wider
international commu unity led th
he Bush ad
on to hubris
bow, "Classsical Reallism," p. 66

3) The rationality of
o Saddam
m Hussein

Some of tthe most prominent contempora

c ary realist scholars in
n the Uniteed States came
c out
forcefully against the decision of the Bussh adminis stration to invade andd occupy Irraq. The
main argu ument, made by struc ctural or neeorealist sccholars such as Ken Waltz, Joh hn
Mearsheimer and Stephen
S Wa alt (see ch .8) was tha at invading
g Iraq was simply nott in the
US nation nal interestt. Realists, in particullar, arguedd that the efforts
e to deeter Iraq from
aggressio on since the first Gulff War, with a combina ation of economic saanctions an nd threats
on, had worked. Theyy also argu
of massivve retaliatio ued that deeterrence w would continue to
work even n if Saddam m Hussein n possesse ed weapons of mass destructionn.

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis,, Smith and
d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003

Box 1.5: Waltz on Deterring

D Saddam
No matterr how often n the Bush h administra ation peopple say "containment and deterrence do
a well as iti ever did for the purrposes thatt we alwayys thought it was
not work,"" it works as
designed to accomp plish. That is, it deterrs other countries from
m using th eir weapon ns in
ways thatt would end danger the e manifestlyy vital interests of the
e United SStates or those it
supports. So the question reduces to: M Might they give
g these things awaay? Well, I don't
think we hhave to wo orry about Saddam
S HHussein doing that, be ecause if aany terroris
st ever got
weaponryy that they could not well
w get fro om sources s other tha
an Iraq, wee would say y,
"Saddam Hussein did d it," and we'd slam him. He knows k that…
… It's a funnny thing, that over
and over again, peo ople say -- and we he ear it every
y day -- tha
at these roggues are
undeterra able. "Do yoou want too rely on th e sanity off Saddam Hussein?"
H George Bush has
said, "I do
o not want to rely on the sanity of Saddam m Hussein.." I do! Thiss guy is a survivor.
He's been n in power for thirty years.
n with Ken Waltz

Many realists sugge ested that a policy of 'vigilant co

ontainment' was provving enoug gh; war
was thereefore unneccessary. Because
B ume that sttate actorss are rational, it
re alists assu
would havve been irrrational of Iraq to use
e weapons of mass destruction
d given the
conseque ences of neear-certain defeat. In the words s of Mearshheimer andd Walt, 'Ira aq has
never useed weapon ns of mass destructio on against an
a adversa ary who caan retaliate e in kind.
Iraq did not use succh weapons s against UUS forces during
d the gulf war aand did not fire
chemical or biologiccal warheads at Israe el. If Saddaam cannot be deterreed, what is stopping
him from using weapons of ma ass destruuction againnst US forcces in the PPersian Gu ulf, forces
that have bombed Irraq repeatedly over tthe past de ecade?' Th he fact thatt he had no ot already
done so, tthey suggeested, provved his ratiionality andd therefore
e the viabil ity of deterrrence.

Box 1.5: The Wron

ng War
In short, a
an invasion n of Iraq is the wrong g war in the
e wrong pla ace at the wrong time
e. It
doesn't taake a realisst to figure this out, h owever - itt only takes someonee who is seensible,
reasonably objective e, and focu ussed on t he American nationa al interest.
hn Mearsh
heimer and
d Stephen Walt, '"Rea
alists" are not
n alone'.

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis,, Smith and
d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003
IR theory in Practice C
Case Stud
dy: The Ira
aq War, 20003

Section 2

R Theory and
Liberal IR a the Ira
aq War

From read ding Chapter 7 of The Globalizzation of World

W Politic
cs (6e.), yoou should now
n be
familiar w
with the bassic tenets of
o Liberal In
al Relation
ns (IR) theoory. You arre advised
to consultt this crucia
al chapter if you have
e not done
e so alreaddy as its conntents will not be
repeated here.

Where yo ou see braccketed cha

apter refere
ences, for example (s see ch.4), this refers to the
T Globalization of World Politics (6e.).
relevant cchapter in The


As noted in the prevvious sectio on of this ccase study y, the relationship bettween realist theory
and the 2003 invasion of Iraq is ambival ent. Simila arly, there are
a many w ways in wh hich the
Iraq war aand its afte
ermath both h contradicct and support eleme ents of Libeeral IR theo ory. In
addition to
o this sectiion, therefo
ore, you sh hould cons sult the Rea alism, Marrxism,
Constructtivist, and Alternative
A e theory se ctions of th he case stuudy for impportant alte ernatives
to Liberalism. The purpose
p of this sectio
on is to sugggest ways s in which tthe insights s you will
have learnt from Ch hapter 6 of The Globa alization off World Politics (6e.) illustrate im
aspects oof the Iraq War
W from a Liberal pe erspectivee. As with thhe previouus section, by no
means ca an the following be an n exhaustivve survey of the poss sible wayss Liberal
international theory might help p you thinkk about thee Iraq War anda its afteermath.

In this casse study we

w will brieffly focus on
n 1) wheth
her the inv
vasion con
nstitutes a
'humanita arian intervention'; 2) the sprread of deemocracy in the Midddle East; and 3)
the notioon of a 'benign' liberral empire e.

1) Iraq an
nd Human
nitarian Inttervention

Humanitaarian intervvention is a quintesse ential liberaal foreign policy;

p convventional wisdom
holds thatt it is undertaken by liberal
l dem
mocratic reg gimes in order to prootect huma an rights
under thre
eat within illiberal
i sta
ates (see c h.30). In thhis view, sttate sovereeignty is a moral
good onlyy to the exttent it provides for disstinct political commu unities withhin which individuals
may thrivee. If the sta
ate systemmatically an
nd violently y abuses th he rights off individualls, then
sovereignnty is forfeitted. From a liberal peerspective therefore, the intern ational com mmunity
may intervvene for hu umanitaria an purposees to stop the abuse in cases suuch as Bos snia
(1995) an
nd Kosovo (1999).

In the casse of Iraq, the

t United States' prrincipal justtification fo
or the use oof force wa
as to
remove S Saddam Hu ussein's alleged weap pons of ma ass destruction; Pressident Bush h framed
it as an acct of self-defence. Fo
or some se elf-describeed liberals, however, the allege ed need to
remove w weapons off mass des struction weere insuffic
cient groun nds for warr, and for that

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis,, Smith and
d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003
reason, so ome suppo orted the Bush
B admin
s decision on
o the grouunds that it would
liberate Irraq from ann abusive despotism.
d . And afterr the war, when
w no weeapons we ere found,
the justificcation has increasing
gly focused
d on the rig
ght of the Irraqi citizenns to live in
n freedom
from Husssein's tyran nnical regime.

Box 2.1: Liberal theorist Rob

bert Keoh
hane on intervention
The distinnction betwween self-d defence an d humanita arian interv
vention maay become e less
clear. Futture militaryy action in failed stattes, or attempts to boolster statees that are in danger
of failing, may be more likely to t be descrribed both as self-defence and as human nitarian or
obert Keohane, 2002,, p. 87

Iraq was nnot a state

e that could d conventio onally be considered
c as 'failing'' in that government
structuress were stro
ong, if illegiitimate. Thhe point to make, rathher, is that since the 1990s it
has becom me increassingly difficcult to legittimate the use of forc
ce without ssome referrence to
the humanitarian aim ms of the military
m cammpaign.

There aree some imp portant objections to the idea th hat Iraq constituted hhumanitaria an
on. As sum mmarized by b Human Rights Wa atch, 'the in
nvasion of Iraq failed to meet
the test…
…. Most imp portant, the e killing in IIraq at the time was not of the eexceptiona al nature
that wouldd justify su
uch intervention. In ad ddition, inte
ervention was
w not thee last reas sonable
option to sstop Iraqi atrocities.
a Interventio on was not motivated primarily bby humanitarian
concerns.. It was nott conducte ed in a wayy that maximized com mpliance w with internattional
humanitarian law. Itt was not approved
a b
by the Secu urity Counc cil. And whhile at the time
t it
was launcched it wass reasonab ble to belieeve that the e Iraqi people would be better off,o it was
not designned or carrried out with the need ds of Iraqis
s foremostt in mind' (RRoth, 2004 4).

Box 2.2: The Liberral Problem

It would bbe a positivve service to
t democra acy if left-w
wing publicc intellectuaals would take
t the
lead wherre elected liberals cannot or willl not, urgin ng their fellow Americcans that the war on
terrorism requires many
m things
s – peace in Israel an nd Palestinne, an end to the Uniited
States' lonng term ad ddiction to oil – before
e it requirees any regime changee in Iraq. But B the left
is having some trouble providiing that se rvice, beca ause one wing
w of it aactually sup
military intervention in Iraq, whhile the oth
her wing op pposes all military intterventions s
regardless of their objectives.
Micchael Beru
ube, 'Peace
e Puzzle', p

d of Demo
2) Spread ocracy in the
t Middle
e East

Another ssignificant justification

j n used by tthe Bush administrat
a tion in the rrun up to the war
was that - after the invasion
i - Iraq would d act as a new
n democcratic beaccon of hope e in the
entire Mid
ddle East. The
T examp ple of a 'fre
ee' Iraq wo dingly inspiire other peoples of
ould accord

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis,, Smith and
d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003
the region
n to the belief that de
emocracy w was not jus
st a Western inventioon, but a un
human rigght. This iss a profoun
ndly liberal argument adopted by
b the Bushh administrration.

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis,, Smith and
d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003
Box 2.3: Vice President Che
eney on fre
eedom in the Middle
e East
Regime cchange in Iraq would bring abou ut a numbe er of beneffits to the re
region. When the
gravest off threats arre eliminatted, the fre
eedom-loving peoples s of the reggion will ha
ave a
chance too promote the t values that can b bring lasting peace… Extremistts in the region
would havve to rethin nk their stra
ategy of Ji had. Modeerates throughout thee region wo ould take
heart. Andd our abilitty to advannce the Israaeli-Palestinian peacce process would enh hance.
Ricchard Chen
ney, 'The Risks
R of In action,' p.2

Some havve argued that, as manifest in tthe invasio on of Iraq, there

t was aan imperia
al logic to
this libera
al notion off spreading
g democraccy in the re

Box 2.4: Ikenberry

y on democracy pro motion
The new imperial th hinkers also
o incorpora ate Wilsonian ideas into their viision in urg ging the
spread off democraccy. This is not just ideealism… it is good na ational seccurity policy y. If
democraccy and the rule of laww are estab blished in troubled coountries aroound the world,
w they
cease beiing threatss… The pro omotion off democrac cy is not lefft to the inddirect, long
forces of e
economic forces and d political e
engagemen nt – but, when necesssary, it is purveyed
through m
military forcce.
G. John Iken
nberry, 200
04, p. 626

As you wiill have leaarned from Chapters 7 and 8, one o of the chief
c brancches of
contempo orary libera
al theory is democrat ic peace th heory. As with liberaal theory more
broadly, ddemocraticc peace the eory has a complicate ed relation
nship to thee Iraq war. One
branch off the theoryy, which Brruce Russe ett has called the cultural or noormative
explanatioon, arguess that demo ocracies foollow internnational norms of peaaceful confflict
n and expe ect fellow democracie es to do thee same; this would noot, howeve er, pose a
problem ffor the war between the t liberal United Sta ates and the illiberal IIraqi regime. The
other, term
med the sttructural orr institution
nal explana ation, suggests that feeatures of
governme ent in demo ocratic cou
untries, succh as chec cks and balances bettween bran nches of
governme ent and public debate e, make de emocracies s less likely
y to wage w war at all. Given
that the empirical coorrelation for
f democrratic peace e is strongeest betweeen two dem mocracies
and not between a democracy
d y and a no n-democra acy, this brranch of thee theory iss generally
considereed weaker; in the cas se of Iraq inn 2003, it is
s also challenged byy the apparrent
willingnesss of the United Statees to go to war (Russ sett, "Grasp ping the D emocratic Peace,"
in Brown et al, 1996 6; see also Panke an d Risse, 2007, pp. 98 8-105).

3) Liberalism, Benign Empirre, and Ira


Traditionaally, empire e denotes a distinct ttype of poliitical entity

y which maay or may not
n be a
state; the Roman em mpire was not a state e, but the British
B emp pire was. Immperialism
m, then, is
a foreign policy thatt seeks to sustain
s ah hierarchicaal relationsh hip over otther people
es and
territories for politica
al and economic pow wer. Even before
b the Iraq war, w writers and
commenta ators had portrayed
p t United States as the centre
the e of a new form of em mpire with

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis,, Smith and
d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003
a distinctly imperial foreign policy. The m
main disputte has bee
en over how
w to characterise
this form oof power and
a whethe er it should
d be welcom
med or feaared (see S
Section 4 of
o this
case studdy).

One impo ortant idea has been that the Un nited State es operatess at the ceentre of a distinctly
liberal em
mpire, an 'eempire of lib
berty' that is relatively benign. The
T extenssion of US power
has rarelyy fallen into
o the trap of
o making iimperialism m all aboutt the occuppation of te
This charaacteristic of
o US hege emony mayy have parrtly resolved the prim ary problem of
imperial g
governmen nt - how to maintain ccontrol over diverse peoples
p in diverse terrritories.

Box 2.5: Historian Niall Ferg

guson on A
American empire
No one ca an deny the extent off the Amerrican inform
mal empire e… Even reecent Ame erican
foreign po
olicy recallss the gunb
boat diplom
macy of thee British em
mpire in its Victorian heyday,
when a litttle trouble on the periphery cou
uld be dea
alt with by a short-shaarp "surgical strike."
all Ferguso
on, quoted in Ikenberrry, 2004, p.
p 610

Although the United d States waas, in manyy senses, the

t traditio onally impeerial occupier of Iraq
immediateely after th
he invasion
n, there is n
now an inte erim goverrnment andd planned elections,
which maay lead to thhe phasedd withdrawa al of US trooops. The point is thaat the United States
makes noo claim thatt it seeks to govern I raq directly
y for an ind
definite perriod, but th
hat it
wants to e
establish a liberal democratic ssystem of governmen
g nt so that d
direct contrrol is

on questio

Do you co
onsider the
e US involv
vement in IIraq to be a good thin

Many libeerals arguee that it is. Most

M contrroversially, Niall Ferg
guson, in h is recent book
Empire: HHow Britain n Made the e Modern W World, mak kes sugges stive conneections bettween
British and American power - whilew also telling us that
t the Brritish Empirre was a 'g
thing'. Acccording to Ferguson,, Empire w was justifiedd because it moved hhistory in th he right
direction – the supeerior system m of "libera
al capitalism
m" was universalisedd, creating the first
global ecoonomy. In promoting contempo orary globa alization, Feerguson suuggests, thhe United
States is ccarrying on
n the globa al good woorks that Brritain used to do. In tthis undersstanding,
bringing ppeace, 'free
edom' and free markkets to the Middle Eas st is part o
of the grand
historical process.

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis,, Smith and
d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003
IR Theory in
n Practice Case Stud
dy: The Ira
aq War, 20003

Section 3

Social Co vist Theory
y and the Iraq War

From read ding Chapter 10 of The

T Globaliization of World
W Politics (6e.), yyou should
d now be
familiar w
with constru
uctivist theo
ory in Interrnational Relations
R (IR). You arre advised to consultt
this crucia
al chapter if you havee not donee so already y as its conntents will not be rep

Where yo ou see braccketed cha

apter refere
ences, for example (s see ch.4), this refers to the
T Globalization of World Politics (6e.).
relevant cchapter in The


In addition
n to this se
ection you should con nsult the Realism,
R Libberalism, M Marxism, and
Alternative theory seections of the case sstudy for immportant altternatives to constructivism.
The purpo ose of this section is to sugges t ways in which
w the insights yo u will have e learnt
from Chapter 10 of The Globa alization off World Pollitics (6e.) illustrate
i im
mportant as spects of
the Iraq W
War from so ome of thee constructtivist theoreetical persppectives. A As with the
e previous
section, h
however, byy no mean ns can the following beb an exha austive surv rvey of the possible
ways social constructivism mig ght help yo ou think ab
bout the Iraaq War andd its afterm math.

In this casse study, we

w will briefly focus o
on 1) the im
mportance e of law an
nd interna ational
ons; 2) the social co onstruction n of threat; and 3) th
he identityy politics of
o the

1) The im
mportance of law and internattional insttitutions

According g to construuctivists, le
egal normss structure social inteeraction at the interna ational
level in a way traditiional realis
st and liberral theoriess are not able to preddict. More
particularly, as Marttha Finnem more has w written, ‘inte
erstate use
es of force are increa asingly
shaped byy Weberian rational-llegal autho ority structures, speccifically legaal understa
and the ruules or norrms of interrnational oorganizations’ (2003: 21). Finneemore sugg gests that
the two mmost significcant featurres of the ccurrent inteernational order
o are mmultilaterallism and a
general reeluctance byb states to o resort to force. At the
t same time, liberaal-democra atic
regimes h have emerg ged as und derwriters of international stability. With U UN backing g, it is this
liberal dem
mocratic blueprint tha at states a
and other multilateral
m agencies now use in na
humanitarian fashio on, Finnemore sugge sts, to ‘rec configure and reconsttruct problem states
when theyy intervene e’ (2003: 87; c.f. Owe ens, 2004).

Two majo or criticismss of the US

S invasion of Iraq were: first, that the Unitted States did not
seem reluuctant to inntervene, and second as principally a unilatteral invasion
d, that it wa
against th
he wishes of o the UN Security
S C ouncil and d much of the internattional community.
However, in the run-up to the invasion th he Bush ad dministratio
on stated tthat it did not
n want

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis,, Smith and
d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003
to invade Iraq; the build-up
b of forces prio
or to invasiion was pre
esented ass designed
d to
ensure that war did not break out by com mpelling Sa addam Hussein to gi ve up his weapons
of mass ddestruction without re
esort to forcce.

well on Iraq
Box 3.1: Colin Pow
‘We wrote e [Security Council Resolution]
R 1441 not in
i order to go to war,, we wrote 1441 to
try to presserve the peace.
p We wrote 14441 to give Iraq one last chance.. Iraq is not so far
taking thaat one last chance. We
W must no ot shrink fro
om whatev ver is aheaad of us.’
S. Secreta
ary of State
e Colin Pow
well, 2003

Secondarrily, then-N
National Seecurity Advviser Condo
oleezza Rice argued that US pressure
on Iraq woould mainttain the cre
edibility of UN deman
nds that Ira
aq admit itss weapons

The Bush h administration, afterr requests from Britain (where the t prospeect of war was
w less
popular), contempla ated askingg the Secu rity Counc cil for a sec
cond resoluution on Ira
aq. An
earlier ressolution ha
ad indicatedd that the iinternation
nal community had thhe right to take
t ‘all
necessaryy means’ to disarm Irraq if it faileed to comp ply. President Bush aargued tha at this
gave the United Sta ates authorrity to forcib
bly disarm Iraq.

Box 3.2: Richard Butler

B on Iraq
‘It is crucial to underrstand thatt no resolu
ution involv
ving conclusion of thee [first Gulff] conflict
were adopted, only a cease-fire. Thus, te echnically,, UN-sancttioned enfoorcement action
a has
never bee en formallyy concluded d – enablinng US and Britain to argue thatt they can restart
military acction at anyy time so long as Iraqq remains in non-commpliance w with Security Council
resolution ns.’
Ricchard Butle
er, former head
h of UN
NSCOM, 2003

Russia annd China, however,

h noted
n that tthey did no
ot intend th
he phrasingg of Resolu ution
1441 (which declare ed Iraq ‘in material brreach’ of its obligations to the U UN in Nove ember
2002) to a
authorize the use of force
f witho
out further debate. Th hey and ot hers therefore
argued that a secon nd resolutioon explicitly
ly authorising the use e of force wwas necess sary to
secure real internatiional legitim
macy. Fran nce, one of
o the five permanent
p members of the
Security C
Council, inddicated thaat it would veto any resolution
r explicitly
e auuthorising the
invasion o
of Iraq beccause it didd not believve war was s necessarry. This deccision was s popular
around much of the world, butt meant tha at the US went
w aheadd with the invasion without
seeking fu
urther authhorization from
f the U N.

Realists, w
who are scceptical of the UN an
nd international organ nizations, wwould argu ue that
this episo
ode revealss the weakness of thee UN and supports
s th
he realist cclaim that powerful
e the most important actors in t he internattional syste
states are em. Const ructivists would
respond, however, byb pointingg out the U
United Statees’ willingn
ness to preesent evide ence and

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis,, Smith and
d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003
expend re esources in
n pursuit of a second
d resolution
n itself reve
eals the poower of norrms of
international cooperration and negotiation

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis,, Smith and
d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003
2) The so
ocial construction of
o threat

Constructtivists main ntain that social

s norm
ms such as s legitimacyy matter; thhey shape and
constrain state beha aviour. Connstructivistts investigaate the soccially consttructed conntext of
threats, challenging the domin nant realistt approach, which holds that ideeas, norms s and
culture haave little orr no indepeendent effeect on militaary threats
s (which fo r realists is
determine ed by a stra aightforward assessm ment of op pponents’ material
m poower capab bilities and
intentionss). Constructivists sug ggest that identities and
a norms influence how intere ests (and
military threats) come to be defin
relative m ned. It is not just obje
ective powwer capabiliities and
purposive e state action that sha ape statess’ security interests, but
b the soccial constru uction of

Constructtivists, therrefore, poin

nt to the waay in which h Saddam Hussein aand his alle eged
weapons of mass destruction were consstructed as s threateninng to the U
United States. They
would askk what cha ange in material capa ability or inttention cha
anged the tthreat posed by Iraq
between tthe end of the Gulf WarW and 20 003:

on questio
Discussio ons

Why did tthe first Bush and Clinton admin

nistration believe
b tha
at Saddam Hussein’s
s regime
could be pprevented from acquuiring weap
pons or detterred fromm using theem?

What caused the Ge

eorge W. Bush
B admi nistration to
t believe differently?
d ?

Box 3.3: George W.

W Bush on
n Iraq
‘States likke these, and their terrorist allie
es, constituute an axis of evil, arm
ming to thrreaten the
peace of tthe world. By seeking g weaponss of mass destruction
d n, these reggimes pos se a grave
and growing dangerr. They cou uld provide e these arm ms to terrorists, givingg them the
e means
to match ttheir hatred. They co ould attack our allies or attemptt to blackm mail the Uniited
States. Inn any of the
ese cases, the price o of indiffere
ence wouldd be catast rophe.’
S. President George W. Bush, 2003

One consstructivist answer

a cann be found in the adm ministrationn’s reiterati on of the id
dea that
Saddam H Hussein was a madm man with a n irrationall hatred of the Unitedd States wh ho had
already ussed weapo ons of mas ss destructtion againsst his own people
p andd engaged in state-
sponsored d terrorism
m. This reco
onstructionn of the thrreat to inclu
ude Saddaam Hussein n’s
irrationalitty and pote
ential conn
nection to tterrorism helped to heighten thee sense off threat
and creatte a justification for war.

3) Identity politics and the Irraq war

In response to realisst international theoryy, which maintains

m th
hat materiaal forces (bbrute
economicc and militaary power) are the mo ost importa
ant determ
minate of fooreign policcy,
constructiivists argue
e that idea
as, norms, and culture e play an independe nt role in shaping
perceptions of the ‘mmaterial’ world.
w Ideass can trans
sform world
d politics inn far-reach
hing ways,

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis,, Smith and
d Owens: TThe Globa alization of World Pol itics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003
including by shaping
g the identtity and inte
erests of states. Warr, moreoveer, is also derived
from profo
oundly soccial processses, includ
ding the coonstitutive and
a regulaative effects s of
norms and collectivee expectattions, identtity and culture.

The war in Iraq, then, cannot be b fully undderstood from a cons structivist pperspective without
reference e to how thee identities aq and the
s of both Ira e United Sttates were defined affter the
1990-1 Gulf War an nd especiallly after the
e 9/11 attacks on the United Staates. The concept
of state id
dentity, as Latha Vara adarajan a argues, neeeds to be understood
u d as ‘dynam mic,
historically construccted structuures of mea anings tha
at constitute
e both “nattional secuurity” and
“threats”’ (2004: 3200). The United Statess government was ab ble to mob ilise domestic and
some inte ernational support
s to invade Iraqq by representing Saaddam Husssein as a tyrant,
while pressenting itseelf as relatively benig

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
Baylis, Smith and Owens: The Globalization of World Politics 6e
Case Study: The Iraq War, 2003
IR Theory in Practice Case Study: The Iraq War, 2003

Section 4

Marxist Theory and the Iraq War

From reading Chapter 9 of The Globalization of World Politics (6e.), you should now be
familiar with the basic tenets of Marxist International Relations (IR) theory. You are
advised to consult this crucial chapter if you have not done so already as its contents will
not be repeated here.

Where you see bracketed chapter references, for example (see ch.4), this refers to the
relevant chapter in The Globalization of World Politics (6e.).


As with the other case studies, it will not take you long to realize that Marxists were the
most critical of the Iraq War, especially the motives of the United States and the way in
which the occupation and subsequent insurgency has affected the lives of ordinary Iraqis.
In addition to this section, you should consult the Realism, Liberalism, Social
Constructivism, and Alternative theories sections of the case study for important
alternatives to Marxism. The purpose of this section is to suggest ways in which the
insights you will have learnt from Chapter 9 of The Globalization of World Politics (6e.)
illustrate important aspects of the Iraq War from a broadly Marxist perspective. Again,
some of the authors mentioned in this part of the case study may not explicitly identify
themselves as Marxist, however, they are certainly radical in comparison to Liberalism,
Realism and Constructivism and they are all united in their critique of the United States’
actions. As with the previous section, by no means can the following be an exhaustive
survey of the possible ways Marxist and radical international theory might help you think
about the Iraq War and its aftermath.

In this case study, we will briefly focus on 1) the political-economic motives for the war
2) the hypocrisy of the United States and 3) the suffering of civilians in Iraq through
economic sanctions and war.

1) The Motives for the War

The principal justification given by the Bush administration for the invasion of Iraq is well
known – remove weapons of mass destruction and initiate regime change. Distinctive
about Marxism as a theoretical approach is its focus on political economy and the logic of
capitalism as the major factors in shaping world politics. Unlike a number of the other
theories discussed in Globalization, Marxism does not take the inter-state system for
granted. So although we might think of the Iraq war as a fairly traditional battle between a
state and coalition of states, Marxists and others suggest that something else was also
going on related to the structure of global capitalism. Recall that ‘No blood for oil’ was the
mantra of the millions who protested the war.

© Oxford University Press, 2014.

Baylis, Smith and Owens: The Globalization of World Politics 6e
Case Study: The Iraq War, 2003

Box 4.1: Oil Wars

The Bush oligarchy wants direct control over a country whose proven oil reserves are
second only to those of Saudi Arabia. American oil giants own none of this oil now. How
much do you think they will own one year after the war? Direct US control over Iraqi oil will
not only put the profits of selling the oil and servicing the oil fields into American hands,
but will also put the US Government in a position to effect the price of oil by determining
how much of it is put onto the market at any one time and to secure the dollar's position as
the currency of choice in the purchase of oil by other countries (since 2000, Iraq has tried
to undermine the hegemony of the dollar in world trade—with all its implications for US
financial domination —by selling its oil for Euros). And, as the availability of this non-
renewable source of energy begins to decline (it has been estimated that the world has
about fifty years worth of oil left), the US will be in a position to decide, almost unilaterally,
which countries will grow and develop and which will not.
Bertell Ollman, ‘Why war with Iraq?’

In the words of Michael T. Klare, ‘In the first U.S. combat operation of the war in Iraq,
Navy commandos stormed an offshore oil-loading platform. "Swooping silently out of the
Persian Gulf night," an overexcited reporter for the New York Times wrote on March 22,
"Navy Seals seized two Iraqi oil terminals in bold raids that ended early this morning,
overwhelming lightly-armed Iraqi guards and claiming a bloodless victory in the battle for
Iraq's vast oil empire." A year and a half later, American soldiers are still struggling to
maintain control over these vital petroleum facilities -- and the fighting is no longer
bloodless’ (‘Oil Wars’).

Although Marxists do not claim that the sole reason for war was to gain cheap access to
oil it is argued that the United States has positioned itself as the policeman of world
capitalism. Political-economic influence in the region is the most important factor, not
weapons of mass destruction.

Box 4.2: Why War? Strategic control

In the desperate flailing to contrive justifications as one pretext after another collapsed, the
obvious reason for the invasion was conspicuously evaded by the administration and
commentators: to establish the first secure military bases in a client state right at the heart
of the world's major energy resources, understood since World War II to be a "stupendous
source of strategic power" and expected to become even more important in the future.
There should have been little surprise at revelations that the administration intended to
attack Iraq before 9-11, and downgraded the "war on terror" in favour of this objective.
Noam Chomsky, ‘The Resort to Force’.

© Oxford University Press, 2014.

Baylis, Smith and Owens: The Globalization of World Politics 6e
Case Study: The Iraq War, 2003

Box 4.3: Why War? Links between oil and strategic control
In their quest for global supremacy and a capitalist world order favourable to US interests,
Bush administration officials may well have believed that militarily-based strategic
dominance in the Middle East, and an American hand on the world’s oil tap, would
represent a bargaining chip of incalculable value when dealing with potentially incompliant
allies and emergent rivals (especially China) even more dependent upon imported oil than
the USA itself.
Mark Rupert, “Marxism and Critical Theory,” in International Relations Theories:
Discipline and Diversity, 2007, p. 162

Other evidence in support of claims about the importance of oil may lie in the history of
President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, the latter of whom chaired the
administration’s National Energy Policy task force and was a major advocate for the Iraq
war (Rupert 2007: 162; Dreyfuss 2003: 44). Both are former oilmen with long-standing ties
to oil companies that do business in the Middle East.

2) The Hypocrisy of the United States

Marxists are highly critical of the motives of powerful states and the way in which they
present themselves and their actions as benign. As the rationale for the invasion of Iraq
shifted as no weapons were found and the link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda
was shown to be non-existent, Marxists found much to criticise, especially when the
rationale moved to the human rights of Iraqi civilians.

Box 4.4 Contempt for Democracy

Nothing has been heard from the present incumbents -- with their alleged concern for Iraqi
democracy -- to indicate that they have any regrets for their previous support for Saddam
Hussein (or others like him, still continuing) nor have they shown any signs of contrition for
having helped him develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when he really was a
serious danger.
Noam Chomsky, ‘The Iraq War and Contempt for Democracy’

Between 1990 and 2003, the United States and the United Kingdom were the main
underwriters of a debilitating economic sanctions regime against Iraq. While the sanctions
were seemingly effective in preventing Saddam Hussein from acquiring weapons of mass
destruction, they had a lethal effect on Iraq’s humanitarian situation. Given the massive
human costs, Marxists question whether Bush and Blair’s claims to humanitarian
principles should be accepted. Added to this is the high number of civilian casualties as a
result of the war (discussed below). In short, Marxists suggest that American and British
claims to humanitarian purposes are hypocritical.

© Oxford University Press, 2014.

Baylis, Smith and Owens: The Globalization of World Politics 6e
Case Study: The Iraq War, 2003
3) Suffering of Iraqi civilians

Marxism views itself as an ideology that has the interests of working and poor people at
heart. As suggested in Ch.9 of The Globalization of World Politics, ‘Marxist theories are
also discomforting, for they argue that the effects of global capitalism are to ensure that the
powerful and wealthy continue to prosper at the expense of the powerless and the poor’. In
relation to the Iraq war, therefore, the question is one of human cost, though of course,
Marxists are not the only ones concerned with humanitarian cost. (Much has been said
about this in other parts of this case study and in some sections of the Gulf War case study,
and you should consult these sections for additional material.) By the end of 2004, however,
independent security organization had estimated civilian casualties at
13,000 to 15,000. Within the Marxist paradigm, this evidence of widespread civilian
casualties underscored the brutality of Western capitalist states.

© Oxford University Press, 2014.

Baylis, Smith and Owens: The Globalization of World Politics 6e
Case Study: The Iraq War, 2003
IR Theory in Practice Case Study: The Iraq War, 2003

Section 5

Post-colonial and Poststructuralist Approaches to the Iraq War

From reading Chapter 11 and Chapter 12 of The Globalization of World Politics (6e), you
should now be familiar with Post-colonialism and Poststructuralism (which you may hear
called ‘alternative theories’ of International Relations). You are advised to consult these
crucial chapters if you have not done so already as the contents will not be repeated here.
The case study also references material covered in Chapter 17 on Feminist IR theory.

Where you see bracketed chapter references, for example (see ch.4), this refers to the
relevant chapter in The Globalization of World Politics (6e.).


In addition to this section you should consult the Realism, Liberalism, Marxism, and Social
Constructivist sections of the case study for important alternatives to the theories
discussed here. The purpose of this section is to suggest ways in which the insights you
will have learnt from Chapters 11 and 12 of The Globalization of World Politics (6e.)
illustrate important aspects of the Iraq War from some of these alternative theoretical
perspectives. As with the previous section, however, by no means can the following be an
exhaustive survey of the possible ways alternative theories might help you think about the
Iraq War and its aftermath.

We will briefly focus on 1) Orientalist representations of Iraq; 2) the politics of

'accidental' civilian casualties; and 3) discourse analysis and Iraq.

1) Orientalist representations of Iraq

The concept of Orientalism is central to postcolonial scholarship (see ch.12). The term,
used by theorist Edward Said, describes the way in which the 'West' has constructed an
image of the 'East' as its Other, the opposite against which it defines itself.
Representations of the 'East', including the Middle East, have been central to Western
economic and political domination. Before Said's death in late 2003, he wrote that
Orientalism highlighted the Western representations of Iraq used to justify war. In his
words, 'There's been so massive and calculatedly aggressive an attack on the
contemporary societies of the Arab and Muslim for their backwardness, lack of
democracy, and abrogation of women's rights that we simply forget that such notions as
modernity, enlightenment, and democracy are by no means simple, and agreed-upon
concepts…' (Orientalism 25 years later).

Box 5.1: Edward Said on Orientalism and Iraq

Today bookstores in the US are filled with shabby screeds bearing screaming headlines
about Islam and terror, Islam exposed, the Arab threat and the Muslim menace, all of

© Oxford University Press, 2014. 

Baylis, Smith and Owens: The Globalization of World Politics 6e
Case Study: The Iraq War, 2003
them written by political polemicists pretending to knowledge imparted to them and others
by experts who have supposedly penetrated to the heart of the strange Oriental peoples…
Without a well-organized sense that these people over there were not like "us" and didn't
appreciate "our" values--the very core of traditional Orientalist dogma--there would have
been no war.
Edward Said, Orientalism 25 years later.

The clash of civilisations that George Bush and his minions are trying to fabricate as a
cover for a pre-emptive oil and hegemony war against Iraq is supposed to result in a
triumph of democratic nation-building, regimes change and forced modernization à
l'américaine. Never mind the bombs and the ravages of sanctions which are unmentioned.
This will be a purifying war… Meanwhile, the soul-and-body destroying situation in
Palestine worsens all the time.
Edward Said, 'An Unacceptable Helplessness', p.446.

Post-colonial scholarship also found mainstream Western assumptions about the identity
of the insurgents in post-war Iraq problematic. In the words of Tarak Barkawi, 'The role of
the Iraqi people is to want to be free, for only then can the United States understand itself
as a liberator. Accordingly, the growing resistance to US occupation must be represented
as somehow not emanating from 'real' Iraqis. It is very important that the fiction that the
resistance in Iraq is mounted only by "Saddam loyalists" and "foreign terrorists" be
maintained, for to admit otherwise is to switch from discourses of liberation to those of
occupation' (2004: 33).

2) The Politics of 'Accidental' Civilian Casualties in Iraq

Discussion question

From a normative perspective, how do we assign responsibility when 'accidents' during

military interventions involve death to civilian populations?

This is a more difficult question than at first glance because the meaning of an accident is
never given (Der Derian, 2001). Alternative theorists suggest that governments and
mainstream society attempt to normalise these events as unfortunate incidents for which
the US and its allies cannot justifiably be held to account. Because specific non-combatant
deaths were not wilfully intended as unique events, they should be classed as 'accidents';
the United States and its allies cannot be held responsible (or even criticised). A decision
to assign the label of 'accident' to an event, with its usually related idea of 'no fault',
however, can be contested by different and unequal parties through arguments supporting
particular social and ideological ends.

During the Iraq War, the political and military leadership in the United States sought to
portray all civilians who died as a result of the bombing campaign as having been killed
'accidentally'. In response a number of writers have suggested that large numbers of
civilian casualties have come to undermine - if not downright contradict - the humanitarian

© Oxford University Press, 2014. 

Baylis, Smith and Owens: The Globalization of World Politics 6e
Case Study: The Iraq War, 2003
claims made by the United States and its allies during and after the war. Alternative
theorists question whether coalition forces can be held negligent or strictly liable for the
accumulated deaths of civilians in discreet pockets - what Martin Shaw has called the
'militarism of small massacres' (2002).

Box 5.2: Civilian Casualties in Iraq

Just as it is commonly suggested liberal citizens are especially averse to causing non-
combatant death, the targeting of civilians is portrayed as something that only non-liberals
do in spite of the historical evidence. Based on a quantitative analysis of all interstate wars
between 1815 and 1999, Alexander Downes suggests democracies have been more likely
to target civilians than non-democracies. Yet the comparison between the 'due care' taken
by liberal states and the indiscriminate killing by terrorists or rogue regimes… has been
constructed as so obviously valid as to be almost beyond question or doubt. Death
appears like the ideal accident, where neither the victim nor the agent could possibly have
been aware of the pending calamity hence neither can be held to account.
Owens, 'Accidents Don't Just Happen', p.607-8

In addition to the effect of the 2003 war on civilians, feminist IR theory (see Chapter 17)
focuses on the ways in which women were disproportionately affected by the sanctions
regime that preceded the war, an analysis which could possibly be extended to the
conduct of the war itself.

Box 5.3: Sanctions and Women

[A liberal feminist study] might conclude that, while few women were involved in
constructing and implementing the sanctions policy, women suffered more than their male
counterparts, both through direct deprivation and through the effects of sanctions on their
homes, families, and jobs.
J. Ann Tickner and Laura Sjoberg, "Feminism," in International Relations Theory:
Discipline and Diversity, 2007, p. 197

Feminists also note the presence of gender-based arguments and constructions in the
Iraq war. As Tickner and Sjoberg note, Saddam Hussein threatened to show the US what
a 'real man' he was, and the George H.W. Bush administration framed arguments of
sanctions and war partially on the terms of protection of Iraqi women (Tickner and
Sjoberg, 2007, p. 197).

3) Discourse Analysis and Iraq

A major strength of poststructuralist scholarship is its ability to reveal the way in which
political action cannot be understood outside of discourse, language and speech. It
suggests that the meaning of a particular discourse is always contested and that 'truth'
does not exist outside of (historically constructed political) discourse. As suggested in

© Oxford University Press, 2014. 

Baylis, Smith and Owens: The Globalization of World Politics 6e
Case Study: The Iraq War, 2003
ch.11 of Globalization, 'various regimes of truth merely reflect the ways in which throughout
history both power and truth develop together in a mutually sustaining relationship. The way
to uncover the workings of power is to undertake a detailed historical analysis of how the
practices and statements about the social world are only 'true' within specific discourses.
Accordingly, post-modernism is concerned with how some discourses and therefore some
truths dominate over others in very concrete ways'.

A poststructuralist perspective, therefore, investigates how the Bush administration tried to

establish the 'truth' of its interpretation of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and the
regime's alleged weapons of mass destruction. It examines the rhetorical devises used in
public statements that tried to convince the world of the threat and asks how the discourse
about the war was started and controlled. It sees as central to the construction of the
battlefield narrative the victory of the White House communications operation in
presenting the war to an American audience. It might highlight the Pentagon's decision to
'embed' over 500 journalists with US troops during the invasion as a method of creating
first-hand accounts sympathetic to the United States. From a poststructuralist perspective,
content analysis of the mainstream media reveals how participant identities were
constructed and represented in such a way as to make certain wartime actions possible.

© Oxford University Press, 2014. 

Baylis, Smith and Owens: The Globalization of World Politics 6e
Case Study: The Iraq War, 2003
IR Theory in Practice Case Study: The Iraq War, 2003

Web links
Contains a link to UN Resolution 1441, which in November 2002 declared Iraq “in material
breach” of its obligations under previous resolutions.
This page on the White House website contains the text of President Bush’s address
announcing the initiation of military action against Iraq in March 2003.
Although it was archived in May 2003 after President George W. Bush declared an end to
major combat operations, this CNN website provides a snapshot of early coverage of the
The Iraq archive, run by the DC think tank the Brookings Institution, contains a statistical
compilation of economic, public opinion, and security data, updated regularly.
This independent human security organization monitors civilian casualties in Iraq, based
on media reporting.
The website of this museum of war photojournalism, based in Dubrovnik, Croatia, contains
partial displays of exhibitions related to the conflict in Iraq.

© Oxford University Press, 2014. 

aylis and Smith:
S The Globalizattion of Worrld Politics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003
IR Theory in
n Practice Case Stud
dy: The Ira
aq War, 20003


Barkawi, T
Tarak, ‘On
n the Pedag
gogy of “S mall Wars”, Internatiional Affairrs, Vol.80, no.1
(20004), pp.19-3

Berube, M
Michael, ‘Peace Puzz
zle’, in Mica
ah L. Sifry and Christopher Cerrf (eds.) Th
he Iraq
Warr Reader: History,
H Documents, O Opinions (New York: Touchsto ne, 2003).

Brown, Michael E., Sean M. Lynn-Jones

L s, and Stev
ven E. Mille
er, Debatinng the Dem
Peacce (Cambrridge, MA: MIT Presss, 1996).

Butler, Ricchard, ‘Catastrophe as the Gennerator of Historical Change:

The Iraq Caase’, in
Micaah L. Sifry and
a Christopher Cerf rf (eds.) Th
he Iraq Warr Reader: H
History, Do
Opinnions (New w York: Tou
uchstone, 22003).

Bush, George W., ‘T

The War Begins:
B “Thhe Tyrant Will
W Soon Be
B Gone”’, in Micah L.
L Sifry
and Christopheer Cerf (ed
ds.) The Ira
aq War Reader: Histo
ory, Docum
ments, Opin
w York: Touchstone, 2003).

Cheney, D Dick, ‘The Risks of In

naction aree far Greate
er than the Action’, in Micah L.
e Risks of A
Sifryy and Chrisstopher Ceerf (eds.) Th
The Iraq Waar Reader: History, DDocuments s,
Opin nions (Neww York: Tou uchstone, 22003).

Chomsky, Noam, ‘T
The Iraq War and Con ntempt for Democrac
cy’. Availabble at

Chomsky, Noam, ‘T
The Resort to Force’. Available at

an, James, ‘Global Ev

Der Deria vents, Natiional Security, and Virtual
V Theoory’, Millen
Jourrnal of Interrnational Studies,
S Vo
ol. 30, No. 3 (2001), 669-90.

Dreyfus, R
R., “The Th
hirty-year Itch,” Moth
her Jones, (March-Ap
pril): pp. 41 -45.

Falk, Rich
hard, ‘The New Bush h Doctrine’,, in Micah L. Sifry and
d Christoppher Cerf (e
eds.) The
Iraq War Read der: History
y, Documen ons (New York:
nts, Opinio Y Toucchstone, 20 003).

Ferguson, Niall, Em
mpire: How Britain Ma
ade the Mo
odern Worlld (London : Allen Lan
ne, 2003).

Finnemorre, Martha, The Purpose of Inte ervention: Changing

C Beliefs
B aboout the Use
e of Force
aca, NY: Co
ornell Univ
versity Presss, 2003).

Ikenberryy, G. John, ‘Liberalism

m and Emp
pire: Logics
s of Order in the Ameerican Unip
Age’’, Review of
o International Studie
es, Vol.30, no.4 (200
04), pp.6099-30.

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
aylis and Smith:
S The Globalizattion of Worrld Politics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003
Keohane,, Robert O., ‘The Glo
obalization of Informaal Violence, Theories of World Politics,
and “The Liberralism of Fear”’, in Crraig Calhou
un, Paul Price, and A
Ashley Tim
(eds.), Understanding Se eptember 1 11 (New Yo ork: The New Press, 2002).

Klare, Micchael T., ‘O

Oil Wars: Transformin
T ng the Ame
erican Milittary into a Global Oil-
Proteection Servvice’. Available at g/content/s

mmer, Charrles, ‘The Unipolar
Moment Rev visited’, in Micah L. S
Sifry and
Chrisstopher Ce
erf (eds.) The
T Iraq W
War Readerr: History, Documents
D s, Opinions
s (New
Yorkk: Touchsto
one, 2003)).

Lebow, R
Richard Ned d, “Classic
cal Realism
m,” in Tim Dunne,
D Miljja Kurki, annd Steve Smith
(eds.), Internattional Rela
ations Theo
ories: Disciipline and Diversity (O Oxford: Ox
Univversity Presss, 2007), pp. 52-70.

Mearsheimer, John and Steph hen Walt, ‘””Realists Are

A Not Alo one in Oppposing Warr With
e of Higherr Education
Iraq’, Chronicle n, Novemb ber 15, 200

Ollman, B
Bertell, ‘Wh
hy war with hantom Reasons andd Real One
h Iraq? Wh y now? Ph es’.
Available at

Owens, P
Patricia, ‘Acccidents Don’t Just H
Happen: Th he Liberal Politics
P of High-Tech
“Hummanitarian War”, Mille ennium, Vo ol.32, no.3
3 (2003), pp

Owens, P
Patricia, ‘Reeview Artic
cle: Theorizzing Militarry Interven
ntion’, Interrnational Affairs,
80, no.3 (2 2004), pp.3

Panke, Diana, and Thomas

T Risse, “Libe
eralism,” in Internation
nal Relatioons Theorie
Disccipline and Diversity (Oxford:
( Oxxford University Pres ss, 2007), ppp. 89-108

Powell, C
Colin, ‘Presentation to
o the UN S ecurity Co
ouncil: A Th
hreat to Intternational Peace
and Security’, in Micah L. Sifry and Christophher Cerf (ed
ds.) The Ira
raq War Re eader:
Histoory, Documments, Opin nions (New
w York: Toouchstone, 2003).

Roth, Ken
n, ‘War in Iraq: Not a Humanita rian Intervention’, Hu
uman Righhts Watch World
Repoort, 2004. Available
A at
a k4/3.htm

Rupert, M
Mark, “Marxxism and Critical
C The
eory,” in Tim
m Dunne, Milja Kurkii, and Stevve Smith
(eds.), Internattional Rela
ations Theo
ories: Disciipline and Diversity (O
Oxford: Ox
Univversity Presss, 2007), pp. 148-16

Russett, B
Bruce, “Gra
asping the Democrattic Peace,”” in Brown, Michael E
E., Sean M.
M Lynn-
Jone es, and Ste
even E. Miller, Debatting the De
emocratic Peace
P (Cammbridge, MA:
Presss, 1996).

Said, Edw
ward, ‘An Unacceptab
U ble Helplesssness’, in Micah L. Sifry
S Christopher Cerf
and C
(eds.) The Iraq
q War Read
der: Historry, Docume ents, Opiniions (New York: Touchstone,

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre
aylis and Smith:
Ba S The Globalizattion of Worrld Politics 6e
C Studyy: The Iraq
q War, 2003

Said, Edw
ward, ‘Orientalism 25 Years Latter: Worldly
y Humanis
sm v. the E
Available at ww
ww.counterpunch.orgg/said0805 52003.html

Shaw, Ma
artin, ‘Risk--Transfer Militarism,
M Small Mas ssacres, annd the Histtoric Legitimacy of
War’’, Internatio
onal Relatiions, 16, n o. 3 (2002), pp. 343--60.

Tickner, JJ. Ann and Laura Sjoberg, “Fem minism,” in Tim Dunn ne, Milja Kuurki, and Steve
Smitth (eds.), In
al Relation
ns Theoriess: Discipline and Diveersity (Oxfoord:
Oxfoord Universsity Press, 2007), pp . 185-202.

Varadarajjan, Latha,, ‘Construc

ctivism, ide
entity, and neoliberal (in)securitty’, Review
w of
Interrnational Studies,
S Vol.30, no.3 ((2004), pp.319-41.

Waltz, Ke
enneth, ‘Th
heory and Internation al Politics: Conversa
ation with K
Ken Waltz’.
Available at glo
edu/people3/Waltz/wa altz-con0.hhtml

ess, 2014. 
© Oxford University Pre