American foreign policy, George Bush, Bush administration, war in Afghanistan, war in Iraq, 9/11, neoconservative, fight against terrorism, Middle East, geopolitics, Hillary Clinton, NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Patriot Act, intelligence, UN, Colin Powell, al-Qaeda, American agenda
The period since 2001 has been a highly active one for the US: they waged a war in Afghanistan, another in Iraq and they may be preparing another one against Iran.
The official rational in Washington, at least initially, for that activity, under the motto of "the war against terror", was the need, after the terrorist attack by al-Qaeda against the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, to eradicate that organization, to prevent new attacks. "9/11" was certainly a defining moment, with more than three thousand victims, even if many today believe that September 11 was a welcome pretext to implement an agenda which existed already previously.
But beyond the reflex reaction, which aims was Washington following? For which policy? There is a huge debate now in the US about the real reasons for the war in Iraq, debate which is obviously linked to the tricky situation there.
[...] (Iraq possesses 20% of world reserves. But not the only reason: it would have been simpler to buy him off . The main reasons were political and geopolitical). But of course, what looked understandable in Washington could only provoke great misgivings elsewhere: they were about to control (including the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq) a major part of world oil reserves. And even if there were ulterior motives for the invasion of Iraq, beyond Saddam's WMD and his alleged (but most probably inexistent) links to Al Qaeda, even if the Bush Administration invented many things, and constructed maybe at times unfounded fears, and certainly did make many mistakes, they did not invent 9/11 (and the attacks elsewhere, as in Madrid and London): there is a serious problem of terrorism. [...]
[...] During the campaign leading to the presidential elections of 2004, Senator Kerry, the Democrat rival of Bush, was against the methods more than against the operation itself. His policy if elected would not have been that different, not really less unilateral: firm American leadership, even if he had consulted the Allies and friends more. Hilary R. Clinton supported the expedition (she has always been for regime change and for women's rights in the Middle East). And if the Democrats were less in favor of change as believed in Europe, Bush remained largely on the same line. [...]
[...] Kaplan, Notre route commence à Bagdad, Paris, Saint-Simon IV. The debate in Washington After the war in Afghanistan, there was a major debate in Washington. Those who believed that the war in Afghanistan and beyond that the exclusive reliance upon military means would not be enough to get rid of al-Qaeda, that it was a long, in depth, task, involving, first of all, secret service methods, and that the US would need allies in the region (like Pakistan) and support in the world. [...]
[...] Many believed US foreign policy would become now less ideological, more pragmatic. Though, at a lower level than the first-tier people like Wolfowitz or Bolton, there are still many neoconservatives in important positions. At civil service level their influence, for instance, has been growing at the State Department since 2004, where they were few before. We now have two main groups: the activists, around Vice-President Cheney, usually supported by the neoconservatives, who still believe the US should reshape the Middle East and impose its values, even at the cost of military operations against Iran and a long-term military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. [...]
[...] The reasons given publicly at the time (WMD, and support of Saddam to al-Qaeda) were not just pretenses and lies, even if that is generally believed today. The US was convinced Saddam did work on WMD, and that there was some link between Iraq and the terrorists. But they certainly overplayed for public consumption a not very convincing case, and now Bush is paying dearly for that, in terms of loss of credibility. But it was easier to sell to public opinion than regime change. [...]
APA Style referenceFor your bibliography
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee