In this paper, I intend to analyze Iraq war of 2003 from Realist and Marxist/ Critical perspectives. I intend to draw a conclusion as to which theoretical framework, in my opinion, is more suitable and provides for a rational understanding of the Iraq War. While drawing comparative analysis of two competing approaches, I do not intend to dismiss one theory in entirety in favour of another. However, I do intend to weigh on a golden balance, lacunas of both theories in order to conclude as to which theory in the end provides or intends to provide a watertight analysis of the Iraq war.
Followers of Realist school of thought argue the case of 2003 Iraq war from the standpoint of power and Security. The Bush administration’s rationale for launching a pre-emptive attack against Iraq was based on two misleading assumptions: firstly, Iraq had or was developing Weapons of Mass Destruction (along with Iran and North Korea) and secondly, that it was aiding and protecting terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda. Such a conjecture based on unsubstantiated evidence helped Bush administration conjure up a dystopian situation which justified 2003 invasion of Iraq under the pretext of “security maximization”. This explanation was given in pursuance of the realist assumption that States’ as rational actors always act in accordance with their national security interests.
However, failure to procure any putative weapons of mass destruction in Iraq forced Realist apologists to invoke the concept of “offensive Realism” to explain the Iraq war of 2003. They argued that Iraq’s acquisition of uranium and aluminum tubes posed a “Security Dilemma” to the U.S. and her allies. According to Wheeler and Booth, security Dilemmas exist when States’ are uncertain about the intention of another State with regard to its military capability. Iraq’s potential to develop WMD s was a sufficient threat to call for a pre-emptive military strike. This is consistent with the principle of Self-help which necessitates augmentation of States’ power capabilities in search for security. The term “Power” is often defined in political realism parlance as an “ability of the State to do what it wants to do.” Mearsheimer has argued that “great powers maximize their relative power position”. This means that U.S. which is a great power in the west would seek to exploit opportunities to gain more power at the cost of other states.
In this regard, it is important to note that following the demise of Soviet Union and end of the cold war, the bipolar international system has transformed into a unipolar system represented by U.S. hegemony. This was a significant shift in the international distribution of power as this means that U.S. is no longer obliged to follow a policy of deterrence or containment against threatening rogue states. The termination of bipolar system disturbed the system of checks and balances which implies that had Iraq been a Soviet client State, the...