Defensive Realism V. Neoconservatism
The Iraq Invasion
Politically and economically, it could be argued that no other country’s foreign policy exercises such a powerful influence in world affairs as that of the United States. Nowhere is this more the case than the Middle East; a highly contested and volatile region, rich with natural resources and geopolitical importance. The 2003 invasion of Iraq serves as an example of one the most significant events in the region in recent history. The respective lens of systemic defensive realism and domestic constructivism via neoconservatism will be juxtaposed as explanations for the decision to invade Iraq. Defensive realism, in its tenet of states responding to threats, pits the U.S in a reactionary position after 9/11. Responding to the perceived threats of WMD’s in Iraq, scarcity of oil caused in part by increased consumption in India and China, and an unstable international arena in the wake of September 11th, the U.S elected to unilaterally invade Iraq, ignoring objection from the U.N and the global community; hence confirming one of the primary realist principles – the unimportance of international institutions.
The election of George W. Bush in 2000 introduced a powerful era of neoconservatism, an ideology whose roots can be traced back to the 1960’s and would exercise momentous influence in the decision to invade Iraq. The Bush Administration housed ten of the founding 25 members of the “Project for the New American Century”, a neoconservative think-tank based in Washington, D.C. Among them were Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Together they would advocate for American hegemon...
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...hat necessitated the war. That these systemic forces are of greater importance than the possibility of an underlying ideology in the Bush Administration and are reaffirmed by the cause/effect of 9/11 and the war in Iraq. But this perceived reaction would not have been possible without the filter through which the global situation was being processed, namely neoconservatism. And this is truly where neoconservatism trumps defensive realism. The amalgamation of neocon policy makers with a preexisting agenda to invade Iraq, combined with an administration operating from an ideology that prioritizes the preemptive use of force – is a superior position when compared with a theory that is based in classifying the U.S as a reactionary actor. It was the realities of a domestic ideology in the executive branch that paved the way for the Iraq invasion; not