Why did the United States go to war in Iraq--and what does it seek to accomplish there? This is the question that veteran defense analyst and AEI resident fellow Thomas Donnelly seeks to answer in his study of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Looking past the prewar debate in the UN Security Council and postwar recriminations over weapons of mass destruction, Donnelly argues that the Bush administration charted the correct strategy in Iraq, but has failed to match its military means to its strategic ends.
Donnelly traces the origins of the Iraq war over the past quarter century to the collapsing political order in the Middle East and President Bush's fundamental belief, following the September 11 attacks, that America will not be safe until the Middle East is free. Drawing on firsthand research in postwar Iraq, Donnelly argues that military planning did not fully reflect the administration’s policy, with the Pentagon’s desire to fight a quick war ultimately undercutting its ability to fight a decisive war.
The global war on terror is a marathon, Donnelly argues, but the United States has a military--indeed, an entire national security bureaucracy--built for sprints. The question now is whether America will transform itself for the long, hard fight ahead, or pursue a more limited victory. Donnelly believes the latter is simply a euphemism for defeat. [more...]
Thomas Donnelly is a resident fellow in defense and national security studies at the American Enterprise Institute. He is also the author of Operation Just Cause: The Storming of Panama; Clash of Chariots: The Great Tank Battles; and Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century.