In 2003, the United States invasion of Iraq began, and was initially explained as a legitimate defensive response to the weapons of mass destruction threat posed by the Saddam Hussein regime following the September 11, 2001 attacks. This tragedy gave birth to the ‘War on Terror’ military campaign, in which George W Bush stated ‘Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them’ (CNN, 2001). This statement emphasizes the United States government’s intentions to protect the individual American, as well as the nation’s security, along with its economic and political interests. However, what stands out is that this invasion at the time seemed wholly unnecessary, and wildly unpopular. The USA is arguably the most powerful nation in the world, and so this decision to invade Iraq seemed to be more of an irrational reaction to the 9/11 attacks, rather than a calculated military decision.
The rationale for this paper, and thus the interest in writing it, derives from researching different scholarly thought on the US Foreign Policy and the War on Terror, especially why it began in particular, and from this it was suitable to determine the reason through International Relations Theory. I want to consider why it came to be that the USA made the decision to invade Iraq, in spite of overwhelming disagreement with the idea from various international communities and institutions. From this, it seems fair to suggest that different international relations theories have been promoted to explain the US Government’s foreign policy decision; with theories such as including liberalism and neo-conservatism having had some degree of focus and support in their argument. However I believe that fundamentally, Realism can provide the best explanation for this topic. The reason behind the choice of realist theory is that it is the dominant theory in international relations, making it appropriate to test against the Iraq War. Furthermore, Realist theory focuses on the power and survival while it also provides extensive material on hegemons, so when considering US Hegemony, realist theory is a considerably powerful tool