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Research Report

One year on:: lessons from Iraq

R. Asmus
C. Bertram
C. Bildt
E. Brimmer
M. Dassu
R. de Wijk
J. Dobbins
W. Drozdiak
N. Gnesotto
P. H. Gordon
C. Grant
G. Gustenau
P. Hassner
J. Hulsman
A. Lejins
C. McArdle Kelleher
A. Moravcsik
J. Onyszkiewicz
J. Sedivy
N. Serra
A. Vasconcelos
Edited by G. Lindstrom
Edited by B. Schmitt
Copyright Date: Mar. 1, 2004
Pages: 203
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 9-10)
    Gustav Lindstrom

    The war on Iraq was without any doubt the main international event in the security arena in 2003. In 2004, the ramifications of the war are taking centre stage as policy-makers gauge the future of Iraq, the Middle East, transatlantic relations and the role of international organisations.

    This Chaillot Paper takes stock of the consequences of the war in Iraq one year after the initiation of the military campaign in March 2003. Rather than provide a definitive or conclusive verdict on the implications of the war, its objective is to offer a number of viewpoints concerning developments in its aftermath....

  2. Part I European views

    • (pp. 11-20)

      Apart from the fall of Saddam Hussein, America’s war against Iraq and the subsequent occupation produced none of the results in the region promised by those who waged it – and the opposite of what they wanted in America’s relations to allies, alliances and international institutions.

      Even before the war began, those favouring it had been unable to prove links between international terrorism and the Saddam regime. By contrast, the view of those who had claimed that military intervention in Iraq would do nothing to advance the global fight against international terrorism was confirmed. The lawlessness following the war attracted...

    • (pp. 21-28)

      It is far too early to assess what impact the situation in Iraq will have on the long-term efforts to shift the balance between the forces of reform and reaction in the wider Muslim world so decisively that the threat of terrorism is substantially reduced. Much will depend on what sort of Iraq we will see emerging during the coming years.

      In the shorter perspective, I believe the impact has been limited either way. But in the longer term, Iraq could develop either into a pillar of stability, reform and representative government in the wider Arab and Muslim world, or...

    • (pp. 29-40)

      By choosing to go to war against Iraq with few supporters and on a false rationale, the Bush administration took a big gamble – effectively making success in Iraq a test of its entire foreign policy. One year later, the balance sheet is still, at best, unclear. Saddam Hussein has been defeated, which is obviously good; however, turning a rogue state into a failed state would be equal to failure.

      Moreover, the human and economic costs of the occupation are proving much higher than anticipated by the Bush administration: Iraq might thus remain the first and last military intervention to...

    • (pp. 41-50)

      This contribution argues that the current state of international affairs is influenced by a number of developments following the Iraq crisis: the failure to find weapons of mass destruction and to prove links between Iraq and international terrorism; the impossibility to apply the democratic peace thesis on the Greater Middle East; the acceleration of the ESDP as an expression of the desire to turn the EU into a global actor; the recognition that the EU and the United States have distinct political cultures and consequently different ways of dealing with international crises; and finally the undermining of the international system...

    • (pp. 51-60)

      Le principal bilan de la guerre en Irak est doublement paradoxal : présentée comme un élément vital de la guerre contre le terrorisme, l’intervention américaine n’a eu aucun effet positif sur la menace terroriste internationale. En revanche, elle a permis de marquer des points en matière de lutte contre la prolifération des armes de destruction massive alors même – suprême ironie – que la présence de ces armes, invoquée comme menace directe et donc prétexte de guerre, n’a pu être prouvée en Irak. Les évolutions récentes de la Libye et de l’Iran sont sans doute imputables à des causes multiples...

    • (pp. 61-70)

      Early in 2003, perhaps the strongest argument against an invasion of Iraq was that international terrorism would draw strength from it. A US-led attack would inflame anti-American sentiment throughout the Arab world, the argument went, thereby recruiting more foot soldiers for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Furthermore, if Iraq collapsed into chaos Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) could find their way into the hands of terrorists. The counter-argument, pushed by proponents of war, was that if Saddam remained in power, sooner or later he would link up with international terrorists and transfer his chemical, biological and nuclear capabilities to...

    • (pp. 71-78)

      According to recent reports, there is no immediate connection detectable between the former Iraqi regime and any significant support given by it to radical Islamic groups. As a consequence, the United States has suffered a severe loss of credibility, especially since the US administration justified the war against Iraq with the continuing fight against terrorism. In this context, the overall global situation concerning international terrorism has even worsened since the end of the Iraq war in various respects. The occupation of Iraq by the United States and its allies has given al-Qaeda further motives in its fight against the United...

    • (pp. 79-86)

      The consequences of the war in Iraq on the war on terrorism have been marginal and indirect at best. On the one hand, since the claims of Saddam Hussein’s links with al-Qaeda, let alone of his involvement in 9/11, have not been substantiated and, on the other hand, there is no evidence of recent Iraqi terrorist activities abroad, one cannot see his overthrow as a victory against terrorism. On the other hand, while it has led to terrorist attacks against coalition troops, international organisations and pro-coalition Iraqis inside the country, one cannot claim that it has increased the danger of...

    • (pp. 87-94)

      It is still too early to assess the results of the war in Iraq. If we look at it purely from the viewpoint whether it has or has not increased or decreased the global war against terrorism (GWAT), it would appear at this stage that GWAT is marking time and may even have been set back. The indicators for the latter interpretation were the high state of air alerts in the United States, and the devastating bombings in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The arrests in Europe and Pakistan of al-Qaeda terrorists were the result of police and intelligence services’ actions...

    • (pp. 95-102)

      The attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon marked the beginning of a qualitatively new period in the development of terrorism. Until then, terrorists had used rather traditional, almost nineteenth century methods, with the use of weapons like bombs, guns and pistols. On 9/11 the international community was taken by suprise because of what seemed to be the use of entirely new, unorthodox and imaginative methods.

      As a matter of fact, the novelty of the tactic used was not so absolute. After all, in the 1990s some attempts to attack the Eiffel Tower in Paris or CIA Headquarters...

    • (pp. 103-112)

      The so-called war on terrorism and Iraq’s alleged links to al-Qaeda as well as the country’s implication in the 9/11 attacks were, besides the allegations concerning weapons of mass destruction (WMD), in the forefront of the US administration’s prewar propaganda. While Baghdad undoubtedly did support several terrorist groups in the past, no clear evidence on its al-Qaeda-9/11 connection has been produced. Yet as one of the consequences of the invasion of Iraq, the country is now a magnet for foreign jihad fighters. Iraq has been transformed, as George W. Bush has put it, into ‘the central battle’ in the war...

    • (pp. 113-120)

      The war in Iraq has had negative consequences for the fight against terrorism. At the very least, the war will have delayed the international community’s adoption and implementation of a combined and steadfast effort to combat terrorism. I want to underline two particular consequences of the war in Iraq that are especially counterproductive for the fight against terrorism.

      First of all, the war in Iraq has spawned a flawed and potentially dangerous misconception about military power. As a result of the attack on and successful defeat of the Saddam Hussein regime, many people – especially in the United States –...

  3. Part II American views

    • (pp. 121-128)

      The war in Iraq constituted a diversion from the war on terrorism. It opened a new front with no direct links to the attacks of 11 September or international terrorism. Indeed, the reverse was true: it gave radical Islamic groups new arguments to gain, in the countries where they are active, more support and recruits among resentful youths. And all this before military victory was consolidated in Afghanistan.

      Two and a half years later, the error of the Bush administration’s attempt to establish a new bipolarity is all the more apparent, be it through an undue linkage between terrorism and...

    • (pp. 129-138)

      How are we doing in the war on terrorism? As Chou En-Lai is reported to have said in response to a question regarding his assessment of the French Revolution: it is still too early to tell. The defeat of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the toppling of Saddam Hussein were key steps in addressing real and potential sources of terrorism and threats to our national security. But on many other fronts progress is less clear and the overall picture is blurred.

      I am a Democrat who supported the use of force in Afghanistan and in Iraq – more in...

    • (pp. 139-146)

      The very terminology betrays the debate. The label ‘war’ or ‘fight’ provides insights into the analyst’s perception and context for understanding the issue and the impact of the war in Iraq. The ‘fight’ against terrorism is a campaign with many similarities to law enforcement, but complemented by military and diplomatic components. The war in Iraq has affected the anti-terrorism campaign in four ways. It has diverted senior-level political attention from anti-terrorism work in Afghanistan, clouded the debate about the role of military force in the fight against terrorism and made the issue of how to detain and try suspects more...

    • (pp. 147-152)

      Although the Iraqi regime seems to have maintained intermittent contact with al-Qaeda, no conclusive evidence of Iraqi complicity with or support for that terrorist network has emerged. Al-Qaeda would not seem, therefore, to have suffered any direct loss from the fall of Saddam Hussein. In some respects, indeed, it may have reaped advantages. Recruitment possibilities among the disaffected populations of the regions may have been increased. American forces are tied down in Iraq and consequently fewer are available for other missions. American stabilisation and reconstruction operations in Iraq increase the accessibility of American targets and the exposure of US troops...

    • (pp. 153-160)

      The consequences of the war in Iraq on the war against terrorism have been almost entirely negative. Even though the toppling of Saddam Hussein is cause for great celebration – especially given the discovery of 300,000 mass graves that underscored his heinous reputation as the ‘Pol Pot of the Middle East’ – the insecurity and instability that now prevails in Iraq could actually magnify the risks of terrorism, particularly if that country is soon plunged into greater chaos and eventual civil war. If Iraq should break into Sunni, Shia and Kurdish fragments, the dangers of regional wars will grow and...

    • (pp. 161-168)

      Regime change in Iraq was supposed to be a contribution to the war on terrorism in three distinct ways. First, by removing a state sponsor of terrorism that allegedly had links to al-Qaeda and might supply such organisations with weapons of mass destruction; second by sending a message to other potential state supporters of terrorism and thus deterring them from doing so; and third by taking a first step toward the democratisation of the Middle East, which in the long run would help dry up the sources of terrorism.

      At this point, it appears that the first effect was minor...

    • (pp. 169-176)

      Predictably, the consequences have been greater than those regularly asserted by most European decision-makers, and less than American policy-makers would claim. First, it must be made clear that there was little direct link between al-Qaeda and the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, for the simple reason that they espoused very different ideologies. Al-Qaeda is looking to re-establish the religious unity of Islam around a caliphate (presumably led by Osama bin Laden). Baathism, the ideology of Saddam’s regime, was secular, socialist, and pan-Arab. It is hard to think of any real points of common belief that would bind this motley twosome together...

    • (pp. 177-184)

      In many respect, the war on terror was the first casualty of the decision to launch the war against Iraq. At the most obvious level, this action further confused what was already a definitional muddle about the nature of the terror war. Was the attack against Iraq an extension to this war? A core part of that war? Or something inbetween? The situation was made even more difficult by Bush administration claims of direct links between Iraq and al-Qaeda that led to a popular belief in the United States that somehow Saddam Hussein had been involved in the attacks of...

    • (pp. 185-194)

      Underlying the American decision to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq was a neo-conservative credo professed in the Anglo-American world by the likes of Robert Kagan, William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer. It goes as follows: in the unipolar world of the post-Cold War era, the United States possesses predominant military power, which can be used cost-effectively to capture terrorists, reshape alliances, and, above all, spread democracy. Like any country enjoying a preponderance of military power, the United States has a tendency and a responsibility to use it. Multilateral institutions are useful only in so far as they compliment these...