The road to war on Iraq

Author/s (editor/s):

R.H. Huisken

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 148

Between November 2001 and September 2002, the Bush administration tried to prepare the US, and the rest of the world, for pre-emptive military action to remove the Iraqi regime and bring that country into full and durable compliance with UN resolutions under a new, democratic government. It was a costly exercise. The US succeeded for a time in making itself, rather than Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, the principal source of international concern. Iraq became the most divisive issue the international community has encountered in over 30 years, damaging severely both the 'western' community and the newer major power alignments that had emerged since the end of the Cold War. This monograph seeks to explain what appears to have been a massive failure of international diplomacy, and to consider its implications for the longer term. The discussion is divided into two parts. Part I addresses the crisis from the standpoint of the principal actors, especially the United States. Part II focuses on Australia. Australia's path was necessarily shaped very strongly by the 'main game', but it did have distinctive aspects which, in turn, suggest distinctive implications for foreign and defence policy in the future.

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