A leaked UK military report into the Iraq war, comprising sensitive 108-page report, condemn UK and US war planning, which has openly violated and breached potential Geneva Convention Obligations and has lead directly to collapse if Iraqi society due to the post-invasion.
It says “The grounds by which war was fought were, and still controversial. At least the commencement of military operations was based at a military need, with the aim of reinforcing the legal base for deployment by clear, timely direction and explanation.”
The collapse of Iraqi society instead of liberal democracy resulted due to the combined secrecy and ideology. Until the end of 2002, not only it was secret for the military at large, but also there was no planning and contracts for the reconstruction and stabilization of the country until the end of the invasion in late April 2003.
In March 2003, the U.S commenced a military operation in Iraq with the specific aim and realistic notion of overthrowing the Saddam’s regime and replacing it with liberal democracy. At that time, bringing democracy in Iraq was believed and seemed to have positive results for the rest of the Middle East. In the beginning, the 2003 operation went smoothly and met little resistance as the 1991 U.S military operation in Iraq. The collapse of the Hussein regime, due to a clash between the U.S Titans with superior military technology and leadership, and poorly trained and the ill-equipped Iraqi army, brought President Bush’s declaration in April 2003 that Iraq had been liberated. However, those easy overthrow resulted in strong resistance to the ongoing reconstruction efforts. The resistance can be seen in the shape of dispersed pockets of insurgent located throughout the country without any central enemy to confront head-on. Thus both monetary and human costs in the aftermath of the war have substantially exceeded initial predictions.
Further, the prolonging U.S occupations in Iraq has turned the public opinion negative for U.S political leadership and demanding an urgent withdrawal of U.S from Iraq. It is still difficult to judge this effort as success or failure; however, when it is compared to the aftermath of World War II in West Germany and Japan, the Iraq war cannot be looked as good.
Global Political Thoughts and Criticism
Since 1940, global politics has largely remained under the shades of realism. For much of that time, the importance of “negotiating from positions of strength” was reflected in US policy. It has meant that the role of America’s military and economic power must be a leading one in global politics so that its foreign policy would be flexible enough to avoid commitments. For instance, the statement of Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser and secretary of state to George W. Bush is quite controversial and a classic realist-versus liberal argument. She criticized Bill Clinton’s foreign policy because it had aimed at pursuit and attachment to largely symbolic agreements. She argued, “Power matters,” and their administration base the country’s foreign policy on firm grounds of the national interest, not on the interests of an illusory international community. These arguments call into question the American’ political thoughts of liberalization and democracy for the world peace and avoiding societal disparities in the Middle East.
American Administration of Bush depicts the realist views in their policies, as they mostly focused on power and acquiring and wielding power over others, thereby designing everything for the best interest of the nation. American realist views also explain their invasion in Iraq, which was undertaken to expert influence over unfriendly governments in the Middle East and remove the tyranny of Iraq’ s President Saddam Hussein. However, in accomplishing their realist aims, they ignored the liberalism, which they very often ironically proclaimed in their speeches over the international plate forms
Realism versus Neo-Conservatism and Iraq War
The two theories of international politics: realism and the neo-conservatism competed against each other over the dispute of going for war in Iraq or not. Neo-Conservatism underpins the Bush doctrine and policies behind invasion in Iraq. The Bush doctrine under the shade of Neo-conservative theory combines Wilsonianism with teeth. Both strands: idealist and power are part of the theory: Wilsonianism explains the idealism, and the teeth are provided by having the emphasis on military power.
The common beliefs of neo-conservatives are that the U.S has a powerful military which is matchless with any other state’s relative military power on earth. The neo-conservatives also believe that America can achieve its national interests by using power to reshape the world. In short, big-stick diplomacy is their common ideology, which is evident in the Bush doctrine of using military power over diplomacy.
Before the American invasion of Iraq, the realists tried to convince the neo-conservatives that Iran and North Korea would double their efforts to acquire nuclear weapons if the US puts both the countries on the “axis of evil” along with Iraq. On the contrary, neo-conservatives used to say to realists that demise of Hussein’ s regime in Iraq would bring strong response from Iran and North Korea-both numbers two and three on the hit list, try to avoid such demise by surrendering. In short, they are the firm believer in the American bandwagon ignoring the risks of death and societal damage.
However, the critics of the Iraq war told the neo-conservatives that it is batter first to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than invading Iraq. On the other hand, neo-conservatives argued that a peace treaty between Israel and Palestinian would follow the American victory in Iraq, and it would be easy to reach Jerusalem via a road that goes through Baghdad. Moreover, if the US faces a tough time in Iraq, there would be encouraging lessons for the Palestinians.
Iraq war: The Theory of Idealism
The theory of international politics, neo-conservatives has the most powerful political ideology that prevails in the shape of the idealist or Wilsonian strand which focuses on promoting democracy. The firm believers of this strand are of the view that there are good states and bad states in the whole world, and democracies exist in the shape of white hats.
Democratic states are believed to have kind motives and naturally inclined to respect individual sovereignties of the other states by acting peacefully towards them. They believe in democracy peace theory and take aggressive actions against the black hats when non-democratic states go against them leaving no option but fight. Thus, “the end of history” would be the result of American efforts of creating a world full of democracies and no war. Also, a peaceful land can be envisaged if there would be all white hats like democratic America, which is a virtuous state.
Fukuyama believed that the end of the cold war resulted at the end of history in 1989, and the decades ahead would be accompanied by boredom. But this boredom could not persist longer in the west with the 9/11 incident which raised the political remarks about the major-league terrorist threat that is backed by the Muslim and Arab states in the Middle East. The reaction of neo-conservatives against this problem was the strong diplomatic arguments-the complete absence of democracy in the Middle East is the root of the problem.
Thus, the Bush doctrine of having democracy especially in the Middle East well explains the neo-conservative thought. It seemed that the first major step of this endeavor was Iraq, although some argued that the initial step was the war against Afghanistan and the second target was Iraq. Regardless, it was not intended to invade Iraq in the end.
After the demise of Baghdad in April 2003, the Bush administration and its neo-conservative supporters showed their intentions to topple the regimes in Iran and Syria by using the same threat or military force, which would eventually transform the whole Middle East into liberal democracies. This social engineering on a massive scale with a mailed fist is replicated in recent American endeavors of overthrowing Egypt, Syria and then Libya in the very recent years.
It is mistaken to call the Bush administration conservative at least in its foreign policy which is radical despite its merits. It is still difficult for a true conservative to embrace such American grandiose foreign policy. Keeping in view the scope and ambition of American neo-conservative foreign policies, one would see the label neo-conservative like a misnomer.
However, there is a strong criticism against the political thoughts of neo-conservatives and American foreign policies, because they are unable to explain in detail the how democracy would be established in the Middle East which is characterized by the non-existence of democratic history. Furthermore, American leaders could not give details about how this transformation and upheaval at the end of a war would be affected by their subsequent policies and planning. It was assumed that the demise of Saddam Hussein’s regime of tyranny would automatically result in a liberal democracy.
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The American people, much to their discredit, never demanded an explanation as to how the United States military, which has never been particularly good at nation-building, was going to do massive social engineering in a foreign and probably hostile culture.
The bottom line is that the neo-conservative theory of international politics that moved the invasion of Iraq has a power-based strand which emphasizes big stick diplomacy and bandwagoning logic, and an idealist strand that calls for spreading democracy across the middle east and maybe even the entire globe.
On the idealist strand of neo-conservative theory, the argument is even stronger that Morgenthau, like almost all contemporary realists, would have opposed the Iraq war. Realists tend to believe that the most powerful political ideology on the face of the earth is nationalism, not a democracy. President Bush and his neo-conservative allies largely ignore nationalism. It is simply not part of their discourse. For them, the emphasis is constantly and emphatically on democracy, and they believe that invading countries to facilitate the spread of democracy is an attractive option.
Realists, by contrast, think that nationalism usually makes it costly to invade and occupy countries in areas like the middle east. People in the developing world believe fervently in self-determination, which is the essence of nationalism, and they do not like Americans or Europeans running their lives. The power of nationalism explains in good part why all of the great European empires – the British, the French, the Dutch, the Portuguese, the Austro-Hungarian, the Ottoman and the Russian – are now on the scrapheap of history.
There are other cases which demonstrate that nationalism quickly turns liberators into occupiers, who then face a major insurrection. The Israelis, for example, invaded Lebanon in 1982 and were at first welcomed as liberators. But they overstayed their welcome and generated an insurgency which drove them out of Lebanon eighteen years later.
If a misunderstanding of nationalism is the first problem with the idealism of the neo-conservatives, the second is that democracies, for all their virtues, do not always pursue good foreign policies. I do not doubt that democracy is the best political system and I think that spreading democracy across the globe is a noble goal. I am glad that Germany is a flourishing democracy today and I hope that Iraq follows suit sooner rather than later. Nevertheless, when it comes to foreign policy, democracies are not always the white hats that President Bush and his neo-conservative supporters make them out to be.
In conclusion, neo-conservatives and realists have two very different theories of international politics, which were reflected in their opposing views on the wisdom of invading and occupying Iraq. The war itself has been a reliable test of the two theories. We have been able to see which side’s predictions were correct. It seems clear that Iraq has turned into a debacle for the United States, which is compelling evidence – at least for me – that the realists were right and the neo-conservatives were wrong.
I think that Hans Morgenthau, who some four decades ago made the realist case against escalation in Vietnam using arguments similar to those realists employed in the run-up to the Iraq war, would have opposed that war as well if he had been alive.