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The Iraq war exhibits significant elements of realism where two countries engage in war in the name of political freedom and behind doors seeking economic resources. Even if the approaches may be different, what such parties really seek is protection of their interest. According to Brown (190) realism is measured by power politics reserved in military capacity and force followed by dominance of one actor in seeking interest through coercion or manipulation. In the Iraq war, realism is best exhibited when the United States made efforts to protect Kuwait which had a significant hand in restoring and growing the United States economy through cross-business. This paper advances to illustrate the Iraq war citing important events and illustration that portray realism in bid of reaching ones interest. In the conclusion the paper touches on the flaws of realism theory such as pessimism from the view of human affairs at the global arena and its inability to explain the boundaries or limits in achieving government interests in foreign land.
The Iraq War
On Black Monday of October 1987 a collapse in the stock market in USA took place causing the American economy to go into recession in the 1990s. The ultimate effect trickled down to other countries that had tight economic relations with the United States such as Canada, Australia and United Kingdom. The difficult part was the American economists, financiers and the government try to comprehend and mitigate the destruction of the recession which had adversely hit all sectors of the economy. Nevertheless, the Americans began having a weak economy which means the defence forces of the country also grew weaker and opened more loopholes where the enemy can strike. USA’s administration had to do something extraordinary to bypass the financial difficulties which are the core component of every government that seeks eternal sovereignty (Wagner 3).
There was definitely more than one option for the US to enhance their economy and have it well maintained. However, the best choices had the biggest costs. In this respect, the government approached this problem by taking up resources which defined the country’s wealth and heritage. With this, it would diversify its investments in high yields and overtake other countries in terms of economic growth and development. While this rattling was taking place at the American governmental level, Iraq was floating in immense wealth and increasingly growing powerful. However, Iraq was invading one of the USA’s main allies that are a very supportive country (Kuwait). Kuwait is known for its wealth of economic resources too. Thus, The USA decided to protect its interests in Kuwait backed by four major reasons. It is quite clear that the manifestation of the United States to protect Kuwait is because of its interest in the country rather than the reality of Kuwait being just an ally to the nation.
Firstly, there is no doubt that the relations between Arabs and Persian had been very unsecured along history as wars used to take place between them on religious and ethical basis continuously. According to the theory and notion of Realism, this approach is based on power politics, which is the capacity of one actor to prevail in a conflict of interests with other actors, normally through force, sanction, coercion or manipulation (Brown, 198). It is often measured by military capacity and force. Thus, U.S.A took advantage of these conflicts by fertilizing the ground for the Iraqi regime (Saddam Hussein) to take over the Islamic peaceful revolution happening in Iran during the 1970s because the revolution there tore the structure of one of the biggest American agents in middle east at that time which was named the Shah regime (King of Persia). Even though the Iraqi regime was a highly debt-ridden country after the war, and even though they were confronting social problems due to the destruction of the war caused the Iraqi people, Saddam has decided to confront the Kuwaiti army that has almost no weight in terms of military measurements.
After a bloody war that presumed eight years, the Iraqi regime became stronger as USA and some gulf countries (Saudi Arabia, U.A.E and Kuwait) supported the war financially and politically. Saddam Hussein then, decided to invade Kuwait which is a wealthy country regarding the oil resources available there, without accounting for the Americans who were direct beneficent of Kuwait’s oil. That invasion came under the excuse of that Kuwait used to be an Iraqi territory before its independence in 1932 from the United Kingdom who invaded the countries after world war one. Besides this excuse, Iraq asked Kuwait to forgive the huge debts owed but Kuwait rejected (National Security Archive 4). It is quite clear that in realism, the State is the main actor in the global arena and as being sovereign acts such as autonomous entity, while the global arena lives under ‘state of anarchy’, without higher authority than states. The most important interest of the state is National-Security.
Secondly, Iraq itself has the fifth biggest oil reserves in the world according a study achieved in 2012, which made the U.S.A more eager to control Iraq’s oil. However, The U.S’s eagerness to manipulate the world’s resources is not a hidden truth anymore as they have fixed contracts with gulf countries of offering them national protection versus purchasing oil at cheap prices. This control over the gulf countries oil formed a desire for the American administration to control the Iraqi one too, especially that they found it possible after their experiences with gulf countries
Thirdly, Iraq had been an ally of the Soviet Union and there was a history of friction with the US and has been always a target for the US to weaken the Soviet ally presence in Middle East.
Fourthly and finally, during the gulf war Saddam Hussein has bombarded some Saudi Arabian targets to press on the royal regime there to accept Iraq’s demand of forgiving its heavy debts. At this time, and until today, Saudi Arabia has been maintaining tight relationship with the US regime. Therefore the threat of Saddam Hussein to America’s biggest source of oil was unbearable which caused the US to interfere directly to draw limits for Saddam’s invasion to Kuwait which was planned to continue to invade Saudi Arabia afterwards. The inability of the armies of the nation to secure the situation translated in the failure of many Arabs heads of governments and kingdoms to get victory against Saddam. This proved difficult as one moved to towards 1998, which was marked by massive size of Iraq military. At the closing times of the wars between Iraq and Iran, large armies had been built in the world. In this respect, the Iraq army constituted of about 1,000,000 standing soldiers with the exception of about seven hundred thousand paramilitary militaries. As indicated by John Childs and André Courvoisier, in increasing numbers, the army of Iraq was able to field over 5,000 tanks, 500 combat helicopters as well as 240 combat fighting jets.
This narration illustrates the concept of realism where interests are important. So with all these interests America had in Middle East, it found itself concerned in the incursions happening there and that the consequences of these incursions will reflect negative impacts against their interest or at least will form tangible threats that can harm there wants from that area in the world and to put an end for the Iraqi spreading in Middle East. Although the realism approach explains clearly the actions taken during the war, little is done to effect some flaws. In this respect, realism is disadvantaged as a pessimistic approach from the view of human affairs at the global arena. This is also because realism cannot explain institutions such as UN, or the acts of other corporations that forces countries to go beyond their National-Borders interests.
This narration illustrates the concept of realism where interests are important to the sovereignty of any nation. However, in reality, these interests have to be taken by force, sanction and other military ways in other foreign lands.
Thus, U.S.A took advantage of these conflicts by fertilizing the ground for the Iraqi regime (Saddam Hussein) to take over the Islamic peaceful revolution happening in Iran during the 1970s because the revolution there tore the structure of one of the biggest American agents in middle east at that time which was named the Shah regime (King of Persia). This illustrates the weakness of the realism since the act was out of pessimism from a humanitarian perspective as well as from the United States position in response to the ability of the United Nations securing the situation.
Brown, Edward. Theories of War and Peace for an International Security Reader. New York: MIT Press. 1998. Print.
National Security Archive. The Iraq War. 2010. Web.
Wagner, Harrison. War and the State and the Theory of International Politics. Michigan: University of Michigan Press. 2007. Print.