CUP Undergraduate Research


The Flawed Stratagem in the Fertile Crescent: The Fiasco of the War in Iraq & Its Implications for American Foreign Policy

Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences



Degree Name

History, BA

First Advisor

Dr. Joel Davis


The Iraq War officially took place from 2003-2011. Buoyed by the belief that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was in an alliance with Islamic fundamentalists, the war began as a retaliatory measure against the terrorists who struck the United States with the tragic terror attacks on September 11th, 2001. The Iraq War was supposed to be a quick war that would accomplish a finite litany of things. It was supposed to remove Hussein from power and establish a government with proportional representation for each religious and ethnic group. It was supposed to reinvent Iraq and turn it back into the cosmopolitan state that boasted some of the best schools and health care systems in the Arab world. It was supposed to become a prime example of a modern militaristic victory for America. It was supposed to be a symbol of the peace and prosperity the United States was capable of bringing to the region.

The Iraq War was a fiasco but it is not because Washington is somehow evil and wants to take over the world or because the citizens of Iraq are not capable of handling a democratic government (both popular charges). The Iraq War was a fiasco because the United States did not understand the country before invading it. Iraq was not a nation built to last, it was a patchwork realm built for easier British control as the Imperial Age came to a close. Iraq was a country whose populace was strung through bitter power struggles and an authoritarian government hell bent on subjugating its opposition. It was a country whose economic base had eroded away in the desert. It was a republic that was ruled by an authoritarian despot whose removal created more chaos than Washington could ever have imagined.

The Iraq War is officially over. Iraq has a functioning government, but its long- term legitimacy is still under shrouds of doubt. The sectarian violence has grown far beyond anyone’s expectations and now Iraq has become more dangerous than ever. Yet the Iraq War for its many miscalculations is a tremendously important benchmark in history. The lessons learned from the Baghdad venture will be instrumental in how the United States conducts foreign policy in the future.

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