Explain the Causes and Consequences of the Iraq War

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Explain the causes and consequences of the Iraq War (2003)

On the 20th of March 2003, US cruise missiles and bombs were dropped on Baghdad, Iraq’s capital city. The target was the then Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein’s and his closest aides, who were believed to be in a meeting. It would be the start of a conflict that would still be going strong seven years later. Even after so many years of US-led invasion, the reasons for invading Iraq are still debated worldwide. As Allawi (2007) argues ‘in the history of conflicts and wars, there are few instances that match the invasion and occupation for complexity of motive and ambiguity of purpose’[1]. As a result, the Iraq War or otherwise known as ‘Operation Iraqi freedom’ was to become one of the most controversial wars to date especially because of the overwhelming international hostility. It is one of the most important events that affected the world, radically changing 21st century international relations.

This essay will be structured as follows the first section will explore the causes of the war. It argues that the main cause of the war was the perceived threat of Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. This study further argues an attempt to bring democracy to the country and getting rid of the country’s authoritarian leader was another cause of the Iraq war. The second section will explore the consequences such of the war from four different perspectives: the humanitarian consequences, the military consequences, the political consequences and finally the economic consequences. This will be followed by a conclusion.

Hallenbery and Karlsson (2005) argue that the September 11th attacks on the twin towers in 2001 to some extent led to the Iraq invasion. The attack on the twin towers is one of the events that changed the world forever. Soon after the attacks, the then president, George Bush Jr, publically televised America’s War on Terror. The first of America’s target was Afghanistan, in particular the Taliban ‘who openly supported the Al-Qaeda’[2]and ‘allowed Afghani territory to be used for training camps and bases’[3]. However even after the invasion of Afghanistan, America was still concerned about possible threats. The US concluded that the September 11th attacks showed that ‘some countries could ally themselves with terrorist movements’[4] and most importantly provide them with weapons of mass destruction. Bush was especially concerned by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. It was well known that during the 1980/90’s, Saddam had access to weapons of mass destruction. He had used them on his own people, killing thousands of innocent Kurds during the attack on Halabja[5]. Furthermore Saddam showed persistent hatred towards the west, especially America.

The perceived threat of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction was the main cause of the Iraq War. As already mentioned, soon after the September 11th attacks and the invasion of Afghanistan, Bush placed is attentions onto Iraq. Both the US government and the UK government argued that the invasion of Iraq was necessary for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was seen as part of the axis of evil, alongside Iran and North Korea, accused of seeking weapons of mass destruction and helping terrorism. Secondly, Saddam’s regime was linked to Al-Qaeda. It was feared that he might pass the weapons of mass destruction to Al-Qaeda who could potentially use them against western democracy's. Thirdly, Iraq was accused of not only possessing WMD’s but was developing more deadly ones[6].

During 2002, speech after speech, Bush argued that world faced a common problem; Iraq. He pledged to work with the United Nations to deal with the issues posed by Iraq. By the end of 2002 the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1441; they gave their final opportunity to Saddam to comply with its disarmament obligations of face serious actions.[7] However, by 2003, the US, UK and Spain introduced the ‘second resolution’...
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