Why Did the United States Invade Iraq? The Debate at 20 Years (Summer 2023)




Stieb, Joseph

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Texas National Security Review



Twenty years after the Iraq War began, scholarship on its causes can be usefully divided into the security school and the hegemony school. Security school scholars argue that the main reason the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq was to safeguard the United States against the conjoined threat of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorist groups. Hegemony school scholars argue instead that the purpose of the Iraq War was to preserve and extend U.S. hegemony, including the spread of liberal democratic ideals. Debates between these camps inform broader disputes about the lessons of the Iraq War for the future of U.S. foreign policy and the analysis of other key questions about the war’s origins. Nonetheless, this binary may not be productive for Iraq War scholarship, and more attention to global and cultural factors would be a useful way to advance this field.

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