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September 23, 2013

Essay on Iraq War

Iraq War
The deficiency of conventional realist notions is self-evident once we begin to analyze Washington’s “Farewell Address,” still a helpful guide to mulling over the foreign policy of United States, particularly for its remarkable Lockean blend of interest and principle. “It must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves…in the ordinary vicissitudes of [Europe’s] politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships and enmities” George Washington comes up with the Lockean synthesis.  
“If we remain one People, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisition upon us, will not lightly hazard giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest guided by justice shall Counsel. “(Gordon, 2007)
The proponents of realism have long supported the Bush doctrine for its emphasis on the expansion of democracy. They maintain the Bush doctrine was akin to that of Thucydides who observed that the central objective of both Athens and Sparta was the establishment of regimes similar to their own.  The analysis that can be drawn is that banking on this principle is more likely to enhance its hegemony given the fact that other states also share the same principles and interests. This is one of the major motives that compelled United States to wage war on Iraq.  
Indeed, the Bush Doctrine seems to have been in line with this Thycydidean princle since the president declared himself in a June 2004 speech at the Air Force Academy.
“Some who call themselves “realists” question whether the spread of democracy in the Middle East should be any concern of ours. But the realists in this case have lost contact with a fundamental reality. America has always been less secure when freedom is in retreat. America is always more secure when freedom is on the march.”(Gordon, 2007)
Indeed, the discourse of realism is much more complex. What passes for as “neoconservatism” is actually a variant of a realist theory. Realism is the most dominant and influential school of thought in international relations(IR). It places importance on the use of power and military in international affairs. According to a realist, power determines the relations with other states and state is the only important factor in arena of international affairs.(Thomas, 2007)
There are a different varietiesof realism. There are “human nature” realists who believe that the conflict on international scene is reflective of man’s fallen nature.  They can also be considered as disciples of Thomas Hobbes.
Most modern realists are “structural realists,” who believe that the competitive character of international politics is an upshot of international political system (IPS), which is international anarchy. Given the fact that there are no common superior hence states are the arbiters of their own security needs.
For the traditional realist, relative power is the key. “Defensive” realists content that the goal of a state shall always remain power in order to ensure its survival.“Offensive” realists, such as John Mearsheimer, believe that a state will seek to acquire as much power as it can.

Realism and the Bush Doctrine on Iraq War

Traditional realists have criticized Bush Doctrine and its policy on Iraq War believing that its Wilsonian character had led the United States to going overboard in the case of Iraq. Realists had envisaged that the Bush Doctrine would also lead to anti-hegemonic balancing on the part of other states — i.e., other states will take actions to prevent the United Stated from establishing, or further establishing, international hegemony. Such a prediction has not come true since there has been no anti-hegemonic balancing even of soft variety.
This indicates the fact that other national also consider the Bush Doctrine to be in line with their own interests. That is to say, they do not worry about United States’ aim to establish hegemony antithetical to their interests.   
It should be pointed out that Bush Doctrine was based on a variant of realism. Some relaists contend that the in today’s world the international political structure is more hierarchal than anarchic. In other words, the peace and prosperity are restored and preserved by hegemonic power, not by a balance of power.
This has given rise to the theory of “hegemonic stability,” which argues that a “liberal world order” does not come into being all at once as an outcome of some global “invisible hand.” In the words of Ethan Barnaby Kapstein, “hegemonic power is  a state willing and able to provide the world with the collective goods of economic stability and international security.” The United States, as Great Britain before it, took up the role of hegemon not due to altruism but to seek what is best in its national interest.

Thomas, Mackubin (2006) “Realism, Iraq, and the Bush Doctrine” National Review Online
Gordon, Robert(2007) “In defense of Bush Doctrine” Cengage Learning


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