The 2003 Invasion of Iraq: A Constructivist Explanation

The 2003 invasion of Iraq is considered one of the most perplexing and ridiculed American military adventures in recent history. Considering the complex factors and people behind the decision, perceptions and ideational goals appeared consistently and seemed to set the tone and drive the Bush administration to launch a preventative war against Iraq. Andrew Flibbert writes, “Ideational factors … alone deemed the Iraq war necessary and appropriate to the circumstances, and they alone tell us why the administration wanted a war that seemed reckless to many outside the pro-war ideational community.” The ideas and factors behind the decision consisted of a demonstration of power and credibility after the Gulf War and 9/11, the promotion of democracy, human rights, and American values in contrast to an evil regime, and the preservation and reassertion of American unipolarity and hegemony. While in some ways these ideas are distinct, their combination that drove the decision to invade reveals many similarities in their reasoning. The interplay of these ideas, perceptions, and norms, each supported by different facets of the Bush administration, demonstrates that the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 should be viewed in a constructivist light. 

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