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This chapter illustrates the forms and dynamics of contractual hybridity in American wars using the case of Blackwater. Blackwater’s contractual hybridity was visible in its formal contracts with public funding. Contractual relations created power payoffs by deploying a contractor force for American wars and raised Weberian legitimacy dilemmas from limited contractor oversight and distributed accountability. Security contractors also disturb civilmilitary relations by posing as “civilian combatants” or “unlawful combatants,” depending on the preferred definition under international law. The chapter also follows bureaucratic debates on defining "inherently governmental functions" given contracting, which reveal the effort it takes to balance Idealized and Lived Sovereignty. By being attentive to formalized and publicized hybrid relations, the chapter thus wrestles with unique problems in sovereign governance that challenge the legitimacy of a sovereign authority that contracts itself.
Mainstream pro-war news media reporting of the 2003 Iraq War was highly sanitized in a way that reduced war coverage to a cinematic spectacle. The picture that was painted by the coalition mainstream media reporters was of a war free of images of suffering, destruction, dissent, and diplomacy, but full of sophisticated US weaponry, chivalrous “heroism” and militarist “humanitarianism.” The US control of news media framing (through censorship and embedding systems) shielded viewers from the “realities” of the battlefield through recourse to maneuvering “avoidance” strategies, such as the “dehistorization,” “depersonalization,” and “decontextualization” of the unfolding conflict. By muting dissenting voices, the pro-war coalition media frames manufactured an “interpretive dominance” that was inextricably structured in hegemony and social control.
There are systems in place, or should be, for our government officials to make the decisions that affect our health. But as the Flint water crisis and our decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 demonstrate, the rules for these systems are lacking. Officials and CIA Analysts fall prey to their unconscious biases just as readily as anyone. The Flint water crisis is described with all evidence in place that confirmation bias (and racial bias) drove the decision not to stop the public from drinking the water, using snippets from actual emails at the governor’s office to illustrate. The same failings led to war in Iraq, though the CIA has since created processes to prevent their analysts from making the same errors again. The chapter ends with a light-hearted example of a decision-making tool the CIA developed in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion: the Analysis of Competing Hypotheses. I use the tool to determine if my dog made a mess on the floor - a more everyday example of decision-making than airplane crashes, war, or public health (graphic to illustrate). This brings it home that bias can be avoided; it only takes effort.
In chapter 3, I argue that international law appeared in the 2003 debates primarily as an autonomous reason for or against war. Speakers invoked the legality or illegality of the invasion of Iraq as reason enough, on its own, to justify or condemn Australia’s actions. Speakers constructed international law as a measure of the justifiability of government action separate from any other measure such as morality or participation in an alliance, calling on a power that they believed international legal status would create. The 2003 debates included some examples of international law as a collective justification, but these were generally subordinate to the autonomous form of international legal language.
Public debates in the language of international law have occurred across the 20th and 21st centuries and have produced a popular form of international law that matters for international practice. This book analyses the people who used international law and how they used it in debates over Australia's participation in the 2003 Iraq War, the Vietnam War and the First World War. It examines texts such as newspapers, parliamentary debates, public protests and other expressions of public opinion. It argues that these interventions produced a form of international law that shares a vocabulary and grammar with the expert forms of that language and distinct competences in order to be persuasive. This longer history also illustrates a move from the use of international legal language as part of collective justifications to the use of international law as an autonomous justification for state action.
This chapter provides an overview of policing in modern Iraq, with a special focus on the role of sectarian identity in citizen–police relations. Following the 2003 US invasion and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the transitional government initially purged Sunnis from the state security forces. However, the government soon faced domestic and international pressures to reintegrate Sunnis into the police as a counterinsurgency measure. In some areas like Anbar and parts of Baghdad, these pressures led to substantial inclusion of Sunnis in the police. In other areas, local politicians resisted Sunni integration so they could distribute police jobs as political patronage. Drawing on interviews with Iraqi citizens, I show just how salient the police’s makeup is to ordinary citizens’ relationships with the state. Citizens see access to positions in the police as a path toward empowerment and, at times, self-preservation. At the same time, they perceive that officers behave differently depending on their sect, with shared identity smoothing interactions between citizens and the police.
Traditional scholarship on cities has ignored the impact of warfare, except insofar as cities have been totally destroyed, such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, or as they have been rebuilt, as Berlin was after World War II. These cities are usually treated in primarily nationalist terms, emphasizing their roles in the respective combatant nations. This chapter treats several global cities in transnational terms, noting how the effects of the specific military conflicts have secondary consequences that transgress geopolitical borders and permit us to recognize shared suffering by combatants from different nations by focusing on Camilo Mejía’s memoir of the Iraq War, The Road from ar Ramadi (2007), and Jason Hall’s film about Iraq War veterans, Thank You for Your Service (2017). Managua, San José (Costa Rica), Miami, Boston, al Ramadi, and Topeka have little in common as modern cities, but the US-led neoimperial wars in Central America and the Middle East bring all of these cities and their inhabitants together in terrifyingly similar ways. New scholarly studies of modern cities need to interpret just these transnational intersections.
The personal costs of war — military dead and injured—are the most salient measure of war costs and the primary instrument through which war affects domestic politics. We posit a framework for understanding war initiation, war policy, and war termination in democratic polities, and for understanding the role that citizens and their deaths through conflict play in those policy choices. We believe that war support derives from individuals’ calculations of a war’s value and cost. High-value conflicts are more likely to be supported than low-value conflicts. Conversely, low-cost conflicts are more likely to occur andto have durable support, while high-cost conflicts are likely to see rapid erosion of support when they are fought. We develop a comprehensive theoretical approach and examine these arguments with a variety of empirical methods in multiple wars, conducting analyses of tens of thousands of citizens across a wide variety of historical and hypothetical conditions. We also analyze the ways that military casualty information travels from distant battlefields to the homefront and address policy implications.
This chapter shows how the Bush administration and other Iraq hawks promulgated a successful case against containment after 9/11 based on the idea that containment and deterrence could not address the “nexus” threat of weapons of mass destruction, terrorist groups, and rogue states. It then examines what I call the “Powell–Blair” approach to Iraq, which defined the political/policy establishment's thinking on Iraq in this period. Tony Blair, Colin Powell, most of the foreign policy elite, and many Democratic politicians criticized how Bush was pursuing regime change but nonetheless endorsed the basic tenets of the regime change consensus. They made a tactical and procedural argument for pursuing regime change “the right way” but did not think that containment was a viable alternative. Thus, after the Bush administration made a cursory effort at supporting inspections in Iraq in the winter of 2002–2003, the majority of this establishment supported the invasion.
Casualties affect elections in two ways. First, wartime variables affected position formation, where higher state casualties increased the likelihood that challengers openly opposed the war. Second, casualties influence Senate elections directly. Incumbents are held responsible for the conduct of the war, and their vote share is adversely affected by higher casualty rates in their states. Although both incumbents and challengers face constraints, our findings suggest that incumbents face the greatest constraints while challenger behavior is endogenous to casualties. Candidates react strategically to the information provided to them by their state-level casualties, suggesting strategy is not reserved to the battlefield. Candidates behave strategically when formulating wartime positions, rightly perceiving that electorates respond to candidate position differences when voting. Analyses of elections during the Iraq and of Senator positions are taken during the Vietnam Wars. Even when national issues dominate headlines, advertisements, and campaigning, all politics remain local – especially wartime politics.
Why did the United States invade Iraq, setting off a chain of events that profoundly changed the Middle East and the US global position? The Regime Change Consensus offers a compelling look at how the United States pivoted from a policy of containment to regime change in Iraq after September 11, 2001. Starting with the Persian Gulf War, the book traces how a coalition of political actors argued with increasing success that the totalitarian nature of Saddam Hussein's regime and the untrustworthy behavior of the international coalition behind sanctions meant that containment was a doomed policy. By the end of the 1990s, a consensus belief emerged that only regime change and democratization could fully address the Iraqi threat. Through careful examination, Joseph Stieb expands our understanding of the origins of the Iraq War while also explaining why so many politicians and policymakers rejected containment after 9/11 and embraced regime change.
Gartner and Segura consider the costs of war – both human and political – by examining the consequences of foreign combat, on domestic politics. The personal costs of war – the military war dead and injured – are the most salient measure of war costs generally and the primary instrument through which war affects domestic politics. The authors posit a general framework for understanding war initiation, war policy and war termination in democratic polities, and the role that citizens and their deaths through conflict play in those policy choices. Employing a variety of empirical methods, they examine multiple wars from the last 100 years, conducting analyses of tens of thousands of individuals across a wide variety of historical and hypothetical conditions, whilst also addressing policy implications. This study will be of interest to students and scholars in American foreign policy, international politics, public opinion, national security, American politics, communication studies, and military history.
Over the last decade, the Iraq War (2003-2011) has become a common subject in mainstream literary fiction. In this chapter, I analyze three key examples of veteran-authored novels: Nico Walker’s Cherry (2018), Michael Pitre’s Fives and Twenty-Fives (2014), and Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds (2012). I argue that it is important to read these novels not only as war literature but also as significant cultural representations of contemporary white masculinity. I show how, through their representations of the soldier as both a laboring white body and (as veteran) the traumatized bearer of witness to combat violence, these novels place their white, male protagonists in an exceptional space in which they are insulated from accountability. As such, they illustrate how trauma is used to shore up a particular version of white masculinity that is vulnerable in many ways but still claims a particular kind of authority and narrative control.
American military policy during the current century has been an abject, and highly destructive, failure. Misguided and failed wars instituted in the aftermath of the spectacular terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, have cost trillions of dollars and killed well over 200.000 people, including more than twice as many Americans as perished on 9/11. Much-exaggerated alarm after 9/11 made politically possible an armed invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, spilling over into Pakistan, to depose an unpleasant regime that, despite some appearances, had essentially nothing to do with 9/11. And in 2003, the American military was sent to Iraq to remove the fully-containable and fully-deterrable regime of Saddam Hussein. Initially successful at first, the two ventures ultimately inspired lengthy insurgencies against the occupiers. In Iraq, Iran and Syria, concerned they might be next, worked successfully with friendly Iraqis to make the American tenure in Iraq as miserable as possible. Insofar as the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were motivated by a romantic notion that the forceful intervention would instil blissful democracy on grateful peoples, impelling other countries to follow suit and in time to love the United States and Israel, the ventures have been a fiasco of monumental proportions.
Contemporary war seems to be both perpetual and everywhere – not enclosed by neat pair of finite dates nor limited to a particular field of battle. Yet despite that ubiquity, war stories remain largely on the margins. The Hurt Locker, for instance, won the Academy Award for Best Picture (and five other Oscars to boot), but remains the lowest-grossing film ever to do so. This essay addresses the field of twenty-first-century representations of war, including work by Kevin Powers, Kayla Williams, Brian Castner, Siobhan Fallon, Brian Turner, and others, noting common themes such as the nature of an all-volunteer military, the widening gap between military and civilian cultures, the expanding presence of women, and changing experiences with technology and the nature of trauma. The essay also addresses the war stories that are immensely popular with the public – the ever-expanding cinematic universes of superheroes that are built on never-ending conflict and combat. These, too, are forever wars.
This chapter explores the underpinnings, development and impact of an ‘old Anglosphere coalition’. First, the chapter considers the nature of a coalition of the English-speaking countries at two levels: the Anglosphere, and its core USA–UK–Australia alliance. Second, the chapter explores the Anglosphere’s various underpinnings, linking nuanced but overlapping identities to shared language, cultural commonalities and intertwined histories, including racialised narratives and an enduring proclivity for expeditionary warfare. Here, the drivers of the Anglosphere are considered in full, despite the limitations of mainstream norms in the study of Politics, International Relations, and their subdisciplines. Third, the chapter considers the recent and contemporary implications of this alliance, setting the ground for the subsequent analysis of Anglosphere foreign policy in Syria.
Examines George H. W. Bush’s efforts to establish a new world order and reliance on traditional Cold War strategies and alliances. Assesses Bush Sr.’s successes (e.g. German reunification) and failures (in Yugoslavia and Iraq). Documents beginning of post-Cold War US wars of Muslim liberation, a pattern continued by the presdients that followed him.
Examines September 11 attacks and the Cold War–style response of George W. Bush. Assesses competing interpretations of 9/11. Outlines Bush Doctrine and argues for its continuity with Cold War strategies. Considers case for and performance in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Details first phase of the War on Terror and the traditional alliances that it relied on.
Considers how George W. Bush rescued the catastrophe of post-invasion Iraq with his Surge. Analyzes key events of second Bush term, his freedom agenda, and wider counterterrorism efforts. Argues that Bush continued with a foreign policy approach made in the Cold War, in which Russian power remained a central concern. Details how Bush resembled his Cold War predecessors in his Russia policy, especially during the Russo-Georgia War. Examines successes and failures of Bush Jr.’s foreign policy, with a special focus on his approach to China. Argues that Bush’s foreign toward India was a considerable success.
This book offers a bold re-interpretation of the prevailing narrative that US foreign policy after the Cold War was a failure. In chapters that retell and re-argue the key episodes of the post-Cold War years, Lynch argues that the Cold War cast a shadow on the presidents that came after it and that success came more from adapting to that shadow than in attempts to escape it. When strategic lessons of the Cold War were applied, presidents fared better; when they were forgotten, they fared worse. This book tells the story not of a revolution in American foreign policy but of its essentially continuous character from one era to the next. While there were many setbacks between the fall of Soviet communism and the opening years of the Trump administration, from Rwanda to 9/11 and Iraq to Syria, Lynch demonstrates that the US remained the world's dominant power.