The involvement of US in Iraq Essay

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The United States-led invasion of Iraq, known as Operation Iraqi Freedom, began in 2003. It included twenty-one days of heavy fighting in which forces from the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Australia invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein's government (Badie 278). This invasion process can be classified as a conventional war because it involved these forces taking Baghdad, the country's capital. Following the completion of this process, additional troops were gathered and sent in, some of whom were from other countries. Nonetheless, the mission of this invasion was propagated to entail disarming the country of any weapons of mass destruction. It also was meant to eradicate Hussein’s administration, which supported terrorism besides freeing the Iraqi people from any oppression (Badie 278). Nonetheless, there are numerous consequences that developed from this involvement, which were both intended and unintended. Through a careful study, the various political and economic effects that emerged in Iraq can be recognized.

The United States actions were motivated by its freedom agenda, which had been significantly influenced by recent events, the September 11 terror attack. Therefore, when Iraq failed to agree to engage in the disarmament of its alleged nuclear and biological weapons, the nation was seen as an immediate and insufferable threat to the peace of the world (Fawn and Hinnebusch 10). Nevertheless, some individuals and states felt that war was not the solution, instead advocating for diplomatic solutions since there was no evidence of Iraq having such weapons. There was even a record-breaking protest of three million persons held in Rome, which was against this war. However, the coalition forces went on with the invasion as planned. The attack commenced with the Presidential Palace undergoing an airstrike with the following days seeing the forces launching several incursions across the nation (Fawn and Hinnebusch 12). Extensive airstrikes across Iraq and against the defending army threw the latter into chaos thus incapacitating them in delivering an operational resistance. The invasion phase saw the coalition forces occupying the country resulting in Hussein and other leaders to go into hiding.

At the onset of Bush’s administration in 2000, interests in liberating Iraq were seen, which would be instituted through the removal of Saddam from power. Little action was implemented towards this objective. However, after the 9/11 attacks, the decision to invade the nation was reached. Bush announced that he was starting the War on Terror. This action was complemented by the pre-emptive military doctrine, which would legitimize the actions of the US (Fawn and Hinnebusch 15). Allegations of Saddam having connections with al-Qaeda whereby some officials were of the notion that this relationship had commenced in the 1990s. His advisors were divided on the way the invasion would be carried out. Some wanted the US to go at it alone while others insisted that an international coalition under the UN would be better. Nevertheless, Bush chose to seek the authorization of the UN without abandoning the option of invading Iraq without the support of the UN. Furthermore, several political and economic implications were experienced throughout Iraq as a result of this invasion.

Political Impacts

The US-led involvement in the region significantly influenced the politics of the Islamic world in numerous ways. Firstly, the legality of this invasion was put into question, which has been a critical aspect in illustrating the way the United States violated Iraq’s sovereignty (Sky 121). The US Congress supported the use of military action in Iraq to repel any anti-US terrorism besides removing the Saddam administration and replacing it with a democratic institution. Bush was allowed to utilize the armed forces as he deems fit to defend American national security. Nevertheless, this war has often been classified as illegal even by UN officials. The reason for this is that the UN Security Council did not sanction it in addition to such an action going against the UN charter. However, the coalition forces had maintained that the war’s legitimacy was founded on the Security Council’s resolutions (Fawn and Hinnebusch 25). The illegality of this invasion is also fostered by the coalition troops failing to find any weapons of mass destruction in the nation. Therefore, there was no reason for contravening Iraq’s sovereignty by attacking it.

Even though this invasion was meant to be a war on terror, it only served to fuel it. This attack was significantly used by terror groups to elicit sympathy towards their endeavors by showing that the US was ready to break their sovereignty demanding that they change their culture in favor of a new one. Muslims were thus easily convinced that the US was an enemy that needed to be fought, which would only happen if they combined efforts with their brothers (Hashim 45). This invasion has also been found to have fostered the formation of ISIS. This unintended consequence came to become a reality when the group grew from the already established al-Qaeda. The Islamic State was formed to repel the invaders. It capitalized on the anger the Sunnis felt after being left without jobs owing to their loyalty to Saddam. They, therefore, combined efforts with the Jihadists with the common cause of waging war against the troops that had invaded their home country. This group controls a huge region in Iraq and Syria, which corresponds to its ideology as an Islamic Caliphate (Hashim 47). The size of the area it controls is equivalent to the United Kingdom. It rose to recognition across the world when it started beheading American journalists. Therefore, this invasion resulted in this radical group becoming fortified into the global menace it has become today.

The proliferation of ISIS has led to the bringing about of an unprecedented reign characterized by terror. Within the locations under its influence, rape and slavery have become institutionalized, especially on the Yazidi adherents that they perceive as worshippers of the devil. A genocide and ethnic cleansing of these places have also been done with such persecution befalling Christians and Alawites (Hashim 48). Also, they have acted violently beyond their territories whereby suicide attacks in the nearby locations such as Ankara and Baghdad resulting in the deaths of a myriad of people. Their actions have also been felt worldwide in the killing of many innocent individuals. Several bombs have been detonated, leading to the deaths of hundreds. Additionally, they have inspired a lot of lone-wolfs who perpetrate terror attacks in the name of this group. Such actions are based on sympathizing with the efforts of this terror group (Hashim 50). Its continued rise is a threat since it could destabilize several other regions, create turmoil in Arab governments, and bring about the perpetual conflict in the Middle East.

Additionally, the contravention of human rights that occurred during this war can only be described as massive during and after the Iraq War. All sides of this conflict are guilty of this crime. The Iraqi government has vehemently abused human rights (Fawn, and Hinnebusch 62). The security forces were known to perpetrate the use of torture in their efforts to acquire information. Also, the Iraqi police are known to have formed Death Squads that committed various cruelties and massacres on people. The collusion of the police with other militias in the nation only resulted in the suffering of innocents. The coalition forces are also guilty of this offense, which was also perpetrated by the private contractors that had been sent in the nation. American air strikes and drone attacks were aimed at the bombing of strategic targets key to the furthering of their cause (Fawn, and Hinnebusch 62). However, in so doing, a myriad of civilians was killed even though they had nothing to do with terrorism. The Abu Ghraib prison was also known for its extensive use of torture and abuse of prisoners, which were carried out by the American army personnel (Roth 147). These prisoners underwent beatings and electrocutions among other acts that violate the legal treatment of prisoners of war. Additionally, there are many claims of sexual assault on the Iraqi women by the coalition forces. Also, innocent civilians would be killed wantonly, an action that would be legitimized by planting weapons on them to validate their being shot dead.

International law also continues to be contravened with the marginal action being taken, which is manifested in the massive violence that continues to be perpetrated on Iraqi women. Iraq is a member of the UN meaning that it is a signatory of the Conventions that are against any form of violence against women in addition to promoting gender equality. However, Iraqi women have always been subjected to mistreatment. Under Saddam’s regime, women were subjected to sexual assault, rape, and torture, among other forms of discrimination and exploitation (Al-Ali 742). The military invasion of the nation was also claimed to have been carried out in the protection and saving of women by ensuring that they start enjoying their rights. Conversely, even after the Iraq War, Iraqi women are still suffering such forms of violence, particularly due to the economic hardship, tensions brought about by sectarianism, social dislocation, and endemic corruption (Fawn, and Hinnebusch 71). The lack of proper government structures has caused the contravention of these international laws even though the country is a signatory to the conventions.

The attacks on women in the country are an indicator of the way this gender is currently being treated in Iraq, especially due to the instability of state institutions and the lack of respecting the rule of law. Their deaths in the armed attacks draw less media attention that those of men thereby resulting in their situation being less likely to be deliberated on. This underreporting on the matter is also augmented by stigma, inadequate mechanisms, and fear of revenge that women have to contend with (Al-Ali 746). Nevertheless, they have been extensively left vulnerable to sexual, physical, verbal, and psychological abuse, which was carried out by soldiers, Iraqi militias, and Iraqi police in addition to strangers they encountered in the streets and family members (Fawn, and Hinnebusch 71). The violence against this gender also seems to be growing. Even though the general violence has been projected to be diminishing, the violence against the female gender is not experiencing the same trend. Additionally, the Sharia law prescribes some rules concerning men’s capacity to instill discipline in their wives. Therefore, men can wantonly do what they please with their female relatives without fear of repercussions due to this gross misinterpretation of the Islamic law. A culture of little arrests or prosecution has augmented this situation thereby causing domestic abuse not being perceived as a crime in most households.

Moreover, the political progress towards democracy in the country is very lacking as the war did not make any impact. The al-Maliki administration also continued the authoritarian practice that was seen in the previous regime (Parker 97). Having the army there only deteriorated this aspect since they were policing everything. The Iraqi leaders were demotivated in creating a stable government, an issue that worsened in the pulling out of American soldiers. The poor governance that was in power led to the proliferation of militant groups including ISIS. Additionally, the support for such groups continues due to the lack of effective governmental institutions and services. Hence, the injustice that was present during Saddam’s reign was allowed to continue due to the lack of a fair and more responsive government being formed (Parker 97). Iraq was thus be classified as a failed state. Maliki was not the only one that led to this failure by being authoritarian, corrupt, and sectarian since all those around him adopted the same perspectives. In so doing, they created barriers to the formation of better governance characterized by a legal system and police force that could be trusted. Hence, the US is guilty of having invaded the country with the promise of better democratic institutions being established, but the result, particularly after the withdrawal of their forces, can only be described as deplorable.

Corruption is one of the aspects that have influenced the political disintegration in Iraq. Everybody from the top to the bottom echelons of the society is corrupt. Even the anti-corruption institutions state that there are currently no solutions to this problem. There are bodies that are in place with the task of protecting public funds in the post-war country, which is a lot of work with most of these officials also accepting millions of dollars in bribes to look the other way (Parker 99). The nation is currently undergoing financial problems due to the recent falling of oil prices across the world. The country is not expected to revitalize soon owing to the massive pillage of public funds that has been carried out by the political class, senior figures, and military leaders in the recent years. A majority of the top individuals have stolen a substantial amount of the Iraqi wealth (Parker 100). This stealing is not even done in secret, but it is perpetrated openly thus making it a virus. The nation has even been in the leading countries that are most corrupt besides being the least supporters of transparency (Looney 431). Additionally, this corruption has also enabled jihadists to return to areas that were previously under their control since the security forces accept bribes to allow such actions. Corruption has thus become a significant destabilizing factor in Iraq since it has been allowed to go on for so long without any action being taken.

Another political effect that happened after the invasion was the shift of power to the Middle East from Iraq to Iran, which is one of the chief enemies of the West. When Saddam was removed from power, a vacuum was created, and Iran swooped in to fill it (Rubin 144). Iran is controlled by the Shiite, and the West’s actions helped remove the Sunni regime, led by Saddam, from power thereby allowing it to continue by weakening its greatest enemy. There was now no entity to harbor the domination aspirations in the region. The Shiite also rose to power in Iraq besides these individuals having close ties with the Iran regime meaning that they could be vulnerable to influence by the latter. Therefore, the two nations can collaboration on several matters thereby also reducing the power that other countries have in the region. Additionally, the concentration of American efforts in Iraq allowed Iran to advance its military capacities. By studying the conflicts that the US has been involved in the Middle East, the country came up with a strategy incorporating self-defense, dissuasion, and, when the need be, retaliation (Rubin 148). This approach has been significantly adopted in the training of the Iranian forces thus making them a formidable force for any nation that would attempt to compromise its territory.

Economic Impacts

There were numerous economic effects on Iraq during and after the invasion as from 2003. One of the most significant consequences was the reduction of the national income by no less than forty percent. There was a massive loss of human life since it is estimated that about five hundred Iraqis were dying on a daily basis. Hence, about two percent of the population since the invasion had been wiped out. Such losses would mean less capable individuals are staying alive to contribute to the country’s economy thus resulting in the national income suffering. Constant violence will only continue to hurt the economy since more lives are being lost. Also, the environment is not conducive for business thus resulting in the reluctance to capitalize on opportunities that would prove to be imperative for economic growth. Insecurity threatens economic growth.

Continued conflict in the region will only serve to deteriorate Iraq’s economy. This aspect is boosted by ISIS actions that always have an effect on the Iraqi state due to the influence it has in the region. The Iraqi economy is customarily based on two aspects. Firstly, oil is the primary contributor to the economy due to its vast reserves that are estimated to be the fifth largest in the world. Therefore, oil accounts for a substantial percentage of the nation’s economy. It also amounts to a significant chunk of the government’s revenues (Le Billon and Cervantes 836). These aspects show that this industry makes up at least half of the total economy. Since the nation depends on it, market prices and production dictate the state of the country’s economy. During the invasion, the production had gone down resulting the economy stunting. Investments also reduced thus worsening the situation. However, once the industry was revitalized from 2011, some growth was experienced. Nonetheless, the situation would worsen if ISIS was to control major oil fields. For now, it has captured only a few small ones. If they gain control over large ones, oil production will decline thus lowering the GDP.

The division and discrimination that exists in the country also mean that revenues accrued from petroleum development are unequally distributed. The per capita income in addition to the employment levels will remain low. The Maliki administration did not promote the institution of an effective development program. The officials failed to address the employment crisis besides not finding appropriate ways to utilize and divide the oil wealth (Looney 434). Additionally, they refused to engage in economic reform by primarily lifting the barriers that harbored growth and sound investment. The government officials ignored the massive issues that were plaguing the unproductive state-dominated sector. There were no reforms in education or health that could have revitalized the youth by ensuring a more meaningful future for them. Moreover, there was no plan for the way infrastructure would be developed. The only concern that they had was the way to produce petroleum and put the profits in their pockets instead of improving the economy (Looney 434).

Secondly, the Iraqi economy can be said to be under the dominance of the state (Foote et al. 53). The oil sector is thus one of its entities, and a majority of the revenues accrued for the local and foreign sales of the product belong to the government. The non-oil sector is impacted when the government expends these monies (Le Billon and Cervantes 836). Therefore, the government achieves total control over any economic undertakings in Iraq. The private sector only has a secondary role that has a minor significance. Other government-owned businesses operate in trading, agriculture, and manufacturing. Hence, the private sector is at a disadvantage since it cannot develop or compete. Thereby, the continued disintegration of Iraq will only mean the distorted management of the governmental enterprises. Also, business will even face a more challenging environment in which to operate in. Such circumstances will mean that there will be fewer contributions towards the health of the economy.

With the government having fewer funds, the quality of life is deemed to go down since it will be unable to avail the necessary services. During the conflict, most regions faced difficulties accessing water or electricity. There was also a lot of garbage that remained uncollected that remained in heaps along streets. Such challenges arose from the destruction of vital infrastructure and institutions. The government was failing in its mandate of providing services to its people. Also, the efforts to revitalize such services has been unequal whereby some neighborhoods reported seeing some efforts being made whereas others saw no change to their poor states. Healthcare also developed into a disaster with only a few outlets availing such services. People have been forced to live miserable lives. The decline of the quality of life being experienced in the Iraqi society has also been significantly caused by vast unemployment thereby leading to morals and hopes to deteriorate. The struggle to survive has brought about massive transformations in that people have become corrupt and self-centered whereas previously they were socially conscious. People also lived in a constant fear of their lives as they could die anytime. Iraq can only be said to be one of the least desirable places one can live. People have become accustomed to a life filled with unhappiness. Such aspects are evidence of the appalling economic situation in the country. Thereby, the lack of money to finance public services will perpetuate the absence of happiness and welfare in Iraq (McLoughlin 354).

Additionally, a lack of access to education results in the low development of cognitive skills and little school attainment thus hampering economic growth. Thereby, the Iraqi economy’s growth will be hampered by not having available workers that can contribute towards the success of some industries, particularly those related to science and technology (De Santisteban 63). During and after the invasion, Iraq has experienced a massive deterioration of its school facilities. Today, most educational institutions do not have the basics that are pertinent in availing a decent education to children. A majority of higher education institutions were looted, burnt, or destroyed. The primary and secondary systems of education were also ruined during the conflict. A substantial number of Iraqi children thereby have no access to education. This situation is further worsened since there is a lower school enrolment among girls, which only works to disempower the female gender in the country (De Santisteban 63). It has been boosted by insecurity, overcrowding, and the want of sanitation facilities. Since education is the groundwork of any civilization, the coalition forces ruined the education system thereby incapacitating the Iraqi society. Therefore, having a substantial percentage of the workforce being less educated the productivity of the Iraqi economy will remain low.

The economy of Iraq is not the only one under threat as that of the world as well is at risk of the same aftermath. Military conflict, particularly in the Gulf region, results in the price of one barrel of oil going up. The invasion and continued conflict in the area could destroy any meaningful oil exports from that country. A complete disruption in the supply of Iraqi oil would have the world market experiencing a cascading effect on the product’s prices. For instance, during the 2008 global financial crisis was in part influenced by an oil shock whereby a barrel was going for up to 140 dollars. A similar shock or a worse one would be very detrimental to the global economy (Le Billon and Cervantes 840). Therefore, if the situation in Iraq is left to go on its current trend, a repetition of extremely high prices of oil and the product’s scarcity may occur again. More inflation will be experienced thus increasing the risk of another crisis. Additionally, due to divided notions about this war, the international coordination in combatting the worldwide recession was hampered. This aspect shows that the invasion was also responsible for boosting the financial crisis.


In conclusion, a careful study of the Iraq invasion is instrumental in understanding the political and economic circumstances that emerged. In 2003, a US-led invasion was carried out in Iraq with it being known as Operation Iraqi Freedom. This action was motivated by the freedom agenda that had been instituted after the 9/11 attacks. Therefore, the War on Terror was commenced, and the pre-emptive military doctrine validated the decision to attack Iraq. In so doing, various consequences have since been experienced in the nation. Regarding political impacts, the first one is that of Iraq’s sovereignty being violated since the war was illegal according to the UN. Secondly, it was meant to repel terror, but it served to fuel it since ISIS was formed, with it bringing about an unprecedented reign characterized by terror. Its continued rise threatens to destabilize the region and create turmoil in other Arab governments. Additionally, there was a massive contravention of human rights perpetrated by all sides of this conflict. Also, international law on the rights of women to be free of violence was and is still being violated in Iraq even though it is a member of the UN. Such attacks are enabled by the instability of state institutions and the lack of respecting the rule of law. The political progress towards democracy in the country is also very lacking. Corruption is also very influential in causing political disintegration. Moreover, this invasion resulted in the shift of power in this region from Iraq to Iran. Concerning economic consequences, Iraq has undergone several changes such as the reduction of the national income and the deterioration of the Iraq’s economy due to continued conflict. The two categories of this economy besides their current development have been deliberated on. Moreover, the nation has been undergoing poor quality of life, a significant lack of access to education, and the risk of the global economy failing.

Works Cited

Al-Ali, Nadje. "Reconstructing Gender: Iraqi women between dictatorship, war, sanctions and occupation." Third World Quarterly 26.4-5 (2005): 739-758.

Badie, Dina. "Groupthink, Iraq, and the war on terror: explaining US policy shift toward Iraq." Foreign Policy Analysis 6.4 (2010): 277-296.

De Santisteban, Agustín Velloso. "Sanctions, war, occupation and the de-development of education in Iraq." International review of education 51.1 (2005): 59-71.

Fawn, Rick, and Raymond A. Hinnebusch, eds. The Iraq war: causes and consequences. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2006.

Foote, Christopher, et al. "Economic policy and prospects in Iraq." The Journal of Economic Perspectives 18.3 (2004): 47-70.

Hashim, Ahmed S. "The Caliphate at War: Ideology, War Fighting and State‐Formation." Middle East Policy 23.1 (2016): 42-58.

Le Billon, Philippe, and Alejandro Cervantes. "Oil prices, scarcity, and geographies of war." Annals of the Association of American Geographers 99.5 (2009): 836-844.

Looney, Robert E. "Reconstruction and peacebuilding under extreme adversity: The problem of pervasive corruption in Iraq." International Peacekeeping 15.3 (2008): 424-440.

McLoughlin, Claire. "When Does Service Delivery Improve the Legitimacy of a Fragile or Conflict‐Affected State?." Governance 28.3 (2015): 341-356.

Parker, Ned. "The Iraq We Left Behind: Welcome to the World's Next Failed State." Foreign Affairs (2012): 94-110.

Roth, Ken. "War in Iraq: not a humanitarian intervention." Human rights in the ‘War on Terror’, ed. Richard Ashby. Wilson (2005): 143-156.

Rubin, Barry. "Iran: the rise of a regional power." Middle East Review of International Affairs 10.3 (2006): 142-151.

Sky, Emma. "Iraq, from surge to sovereignty: Winding down the war in Iraq." Foreign Affairs (2011): 117-127.

October 07, 2021

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