Making Sense of the War in Iraq

A web page compiled to support POLS 401, Politics of the War in Iraq.


 Origins: Afghanistan.

Origins: Adding Iraq to the agenda.

The Debate in the U.S.

At the United Nations.

The Decision. 

Technology, Strategy, Conduct of War.

The Media in the War

The Cleanup, the Blowback

War and Justice.



Origins:  The War on Terror and Invasion of Afghanistan

·        The Washington Post has a page with links to the 9/11 Commission Report. 

·        Many of the links for POLS 326, about 9/11 and responses to it, still work.  This was the first time the course was offered.

·        From PDA (Project on Defense Alternatives), A Critical Appraisal of Operation Enduring Freedom (includes a link to .pdf version)


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Origins:  Adding Iraq to the Agenda

·        The White House Page on Iraq

·        The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has a page on Iraq

·        The Guardian (UK) has a page on the conflict with Iraq

·        The Project for a New American Century director called for a war on Iraq back in October of 2001, and founders wrote a letter about it to Clinton in 1998.  The PNAC principles and founders are here. 

·        Center for Defense Information published a short discussion of preemptive war and international law.

·        The New York Times special page on the Iraq Standoff has mostly recent stories

·        A comparison of the Cuban Missile Crisis with Bush’s Iraq Policy

·        Bush spoke to US Military Academy about pre-emption, 6/1/02 (The “West Point Speech”)

·        Bush spoke to the UN, 9/12/02; The White House White Paper, same day. 

·        Nicholas Lemann article in The New Yorker, The War on What?

·        National Security Strategy, with some emphasis on pre-emption, 9/17/02.  It was strongly influenced by the Project for a New American Century’s 2000 report, Rebuilding America’s Defenses.

·        Secretary Powell before Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 9/26/02.  An index of other State Dept. speeches from the period is here. 

·        Michael O’Hanlon, testimony before Congress on prognosis for a war, 10/02

·        Francois Heisbourg, in The Washington Quarterly, on the pre-emption doctrine.

·        White House response to Hussein, called “Apparatus of Lies”   (html version here)

·        The Center for Cooperative Research put together this list of events and statements about the decision to invade.

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The Debate in the US

·        January 2002 Discussion of new Bush Doctrine, from Brookings

·        Early on (July 2002) our govt. was talking to the British govt.  See the Downing Street Memo. 

·        Early on, Most Americans Support War with Iraq, Shows New Pew/CFR Poll; Poll Details. 

·        Secretary Powell on Meet the Press, says disarmament, not regime change the goal (10/20/02); This was a slight change from the month before, when disarmament and regime change were the goals in this Meet The Press interview from Sept. 15, 2002.  Part of this shift of emphasis was because of ongoing discussions of UN role.

·        "Democratic Mirage in the Middle East" by Marina Ottaway, Thomas Carothers, Amy Hawthorne, and Daniel Brumberg (Policy Brief #20, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

·        President Bush’s speech of Oct. 7, 2002, just before Congress passed the resolution giving him the power to go to war.

·        Paul Wolfowitz spoke to CFR on 1/23/03

·        VP Cheney spoke to CPAC, 1/30/03.  This might be the most succinct presentation of the Bush administration position on Iraq.

·        Dpy. Sec. State Armitage spoke to Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 1/30/03.  Here are his comments with questions and answers from the entire hearing that day. 

·        Secretary Powell’s Case Against Iraq, presented to the Security Council of the UN, 2/5/03.  Links to video and slide show are found there. 

·        Secretary Powell’s Remarks to CSIS, 3/5/03.  Iraq Still Fails To Disarm.

·        Effects of Powell’s Arguments on the Nation’s Largest Newspapers, from Brookings.

·        The President’s 3/6/03 News Conference

·        Just before the war began, Vice President Cheney was on the news talk show, Meet The Press.  Here is a transcript of the show. 

·        Many in the academic and literary worlds are against US policy toward Iraq, such as this Boston Review article by Neta Crawford. 


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 At the United Nations

·        The Council on Foreign Relations page on the UN debate over Iraq

·        3/17, Bush and Blair Pull Resolution from UN, WA Post

·        Iraq: A Chronology of UN Inspections And an Assessment of Their Accomplishments, from ACA.

·        The US spying at the UN?  The story broke in the UK, but was not covered here.  Story One, Story Two, Story Three, Story Four, Story Five.

·        3/17, Second Resolution Withdrawn in Guardian story

·        3/18, Check the Guardian Page for international reactions

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The Decision.

·        3/15, Bush, Allies Set Summit on “Options,” WA Post

·        3/16, Bush in Final Push for Support, WA Post

·        3/17, US Officials Make it Clear: Exile or War, WA Post

·        3/18, Poll: Support for Bush, War grows, WA Post; Fleisher Blasts Daschle for War Remarks; Bush, Allies Give Diplomacy 24 More Hours; and President Bush’s Address to the Nation.

·        3/19, US Names 30 Countries Supporting War Effort, WA Post; Poll Reinforces US, European Divide on Iraq.;  Parliament Backs Blair on Action in Baghdad. 

·        3/20, No Outcome But Victory, Bush Vows, WA Post

·        Guardian archive of stories about Iraq

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 The Technology, Strategy and Conduct of War,

·        A page of links to stories emphasizing tech., strat., conduct of war, from  Project on Defense Alternatives.  For their articles and Afghanistan and Iraq Start Here.  They also have a page on RMA

·        See the NYT page on war technology and strategy

·        CNN Index Page, Day by Day War Stories

·        Once the war started, the NYT devoted a pages to stories about war action

·        S. Biddle, Afghanistan and the Future of Warfare, 68 p. report by a research professor at the Army War College Strategic Studies Institute.

·        3,17 Guardian article, Tactical Lessons that Must Be Learnt

·        3/18 Guardian stories.  New Weapons on Trial. and Ragtag Army or Expert Street Fighters?

·        Human Rights Watch report on civilian casualties, from December of 2003.  This produced the 100,000 estimate of civilian casualties.  Note:  A radio interview with one of the researchers, who previous to this worked for the Department of Defense and was chief of high-value targeting during the Iraq War in 2003, is available here. 

·        Here is a summary of the Lancet study, by Burnham, that produced the 600,000 estimate of civilian casualties. 


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The Media in the War

·        Links to stories about media and the war, various sources

·        World Press Online, press coverage in Middle East, in Asia, and in Africa.


The Cleanup, the Blowback

·        Planning for the post-war period was begun in October of 2001.  Documents from the National Security Archive are available here.  The National Security Archive is a nongovernmental collection of mostly government documents run by people at George Washington University.

·        The Iraq Coalition Casualty Count website keeps track of official stats. 

·        Dpty. Nat. Sec. Adv. Hadley on rebuilding

·        A policy brief from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “Democratic Mirage in the Middle East.”

·        John Dower, “A Warning from History,” in the Boston Review

·        CSIS page on Iraq Issues

·        The report of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction.   Check its description of the “curveball” evidence. 

·        Tim Russert, Meet the Press, interview with the President, Feb. 7, 2004.

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 War and Justice

·        If you have not read much about just war theory, please see this description from the BBC website.

·        Defense Strategy Review, courtesy of Commonwealth Institute

·        University of Maryland’s Center for International Development & Conflict Mgmt

·        The Crimes of War Project

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