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Why War?The Cultural Logic of Iraq, the Gulf War, and Suez$
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Philip Smith

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780226763880

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226763910.001.0001

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The War in Iraq of 2003

The War in Iraq of 2003

Chapter:
(p.154) Five The War in Iraq of 2003
Source:
Why War?
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226763910.003.0005

Two dimensions of the War in Iraq deserve analytical attention. First, there is the question of how the conflict could have domestic legitimacy when it did not have a UN mandate and was intended to be preemptive. In contrast to Suez (where a canal was nationalized) or the Gulf War (where a sovereign country was invaded) there had been no obviously threatening triggering act or violation of international law by Iraq. If President Bush had “ignored Iraq … the price would have been a few disappointed Administration hawks and one or two grumpy Op-Eds.” Yet millions of Americans agreed with the president when he put Iraq on the agenda and sent troops to die there. How could this have happened? If support for the war raises one set of questions, then the widespread opposition to the War in Iraq raises another. What was it about this war, in contrast to the Gulf War, that led to France removing its assistance and to growing opposition and legitimation crisis in the United Kingdom and eventually the United States? Both conflicts had involved the “evil” Saddam Hussein and both were dealing with a possible threat to world security. Something happened to make the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in 2003 qualitatively different for many people than that of 1990. The chapter asks: What was this?

Keywords:   War in Iraq, legitimacy, Gulf War, troops, President Bush, legitimation crisis

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