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5 - The Iraq War

Changing a Regime, Building Democracy, and Fighting an Insurgency

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 December 2021

Thomas H. Henriksen
Affiliation:
Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, California
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Summary

More than a decade after the Persian Gulf War, the United States went to war against Iraq for the second time. This conflict grew out of fear and distrust of Saddam Hussein’s suspected chemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction. A highly inaccurate intelligence assessment contributed to the fear of Iraq’s phantom WMD. Except for Britain, the permanent members of the Security Council opposed the war. George W. Bush put together a coalition of the willing to invade Iraq in 2003. The opening, conventional phase of the intervention went well with Baghdad seized in three weeks. But soon the Pentagon faced a raging insurgency in much of the country, which was divided along sectarian lines of the Sunni and Shiite Islamic sects fighting each other while attacking the US and allied forces. The intractable insurgency proved complex and deeply rooted. By 2006, the Pentagon looked as it was headed toward defeat. Three factors contributed to a turnaround in its fortunes. Chief among these was the Awakening movement in which Sunni Arab tribal leaders crossed over to the American side because of their resentment of Salafi-jihadi militants. The Bush White House adopted a finely-tuned counterinsurgency strategy and surged 28,500 more troops into the fray. During the intense fighting, Bush pushed several elections and a constitution to entrench democracy. Gun battles and street bombings greatly subsided by the time Barack Obama withdrew all US combat troops in 2011.

Type
Chapter
Information
America's Wars
Interventions, Regime Change, and Insurgencies after the Cold War
, pp. 135 - 175
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • The Iraq War
  • Thomas H. Henriksen, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, California
  • Book: America's Wars
  • Online publication: 16 December 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009053242.006
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  • The Iraq War
  • Thomas H. Henriksen, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, California
  • Book: America's Wars
  • Online publication: 16 December 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009053242.006
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Iraq War
  • Thomas H. Henriksen, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, California
  • Book: America's Wars
  • Online publication: 16 December 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009053242.006
Available formats
×