Posted: February 17th, 2022


The decision making and outcome of the 2003 US-led Invasion of Iraqi war using the theory of military effectiveness and civil-military relations


To discuss the decision-making and outcome of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of the Iraq war using the Theory of Military effectiveness and civil-military relations, it would be prudent to define the two theories. Military-effectiveness theory refers to security means and the ability of a nation-state to defend itself and/or prevent military aggression. Alternatively, military security means the ability of a nation-state to enforce its political decisions with military force. “military security” is often considered synonymous with “security.” 

On the other hand, civil-military relations refer to the relationship between military organizations and civil society, between military organizations and other government agencies and leaders and the military. Civil-military relations (CMR) is a broad, often normative discipline that spans the disciplines of business, social sciences, and policy. Many dynamics played out both in Iraq and in the United States prior to the invasion of Iraq by the United States Army. Saddam Hussein had been in control in Iraq since 1921, and there had been various calls for his removal and attempts to depose him. The general people, as well as other politicians and the military, were all hostile to Saddam Hussein as a result of this. Many believed that foreign aid or military intervention would transform his rule. Civil-military interactions, on the other hand, were particularly sensitive in a highly clandestine setting, making research difficult. [1]


The actual conflict in Iraq started on March 19, 2003 (air) and March 20, 2003 (ground), and lasted just over a month with 26 days of heavy combat actions. It used to finish on May 1st, 2003. At the outset, a combined force of 177, 194 men from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland attacked Iraq. There were 130 Americans, 45,000 Britons, 2000 Australians, and 194 Poles among them. In the aftermath, 36 other countries joined the group.

The alliance planned to “disarm Iraq of WMD, remove Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and free Iraqi people,” according to U.S. President George W. Bush and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair. Others pointed to 9/11 as the catalyst for the United States’ shift in strategic calculations and the birth of the freedom agenda.

As the coalition forces proceeded their incursion into Iraq, the Iraqi army offered virtually little resistance. Baghdad was seized by the Coalition army on April 9th. Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi president, fled into exile. President George W. Bush declared the combat operation over on May 1st, and the military occupation period began.

The invasion in Iraq is definitely is one of the most controversial and momentous foreign political decisions in the century . Compared with other wars , there appears to be radical cleavage on the justification for war advanced by its proponents . According to the proponents of this war , the main reason for the invasion was to deal with Iraqi’s weapons of mass destruction . It has been proven unlike the allegations, Saddam Hussein, the then president,. Di not have the capacity of making weapons of mass destruction and hence had no such capability to threaten the United States. This shows that the Iraq posed a little threat to the United States and this even known before the war . This hence left other reasons to explain about the war. However, the different theories of International relationships are inadequate 

in providing such expklanati0ons. History has shown, however, that there were no weapons of mass destruction, and that the U.S. used this as an excuse to launch military operations in the region to protect its vital security and economic interests, such as ensuring Israel’s security, which is its main alley in the region, and having complete physical control over the region’s oil, which will ensure its dominance in global energy politics. 

It is manifest that a lot went wrong more so when contrasting between the expectations and the reality of the unfolding Iraq war . The president managed to persuade the nation on why the military should attack the country . Many of the issues that did not go right with the invasion include lack of a post war planning , lack of troops , problems with the U.S. political policies in Iraq , bureaucracy issues , and consequences of burning bridges with the international community. However, the biggest convincing argument on the failure of the military troops in Iraq is the controversial decision of invading Iraq in the first place. As a result of the invasion in Iraq , there was significant international resentment, since such a decision was of high magnitude . This could be proven by 

reduced approval ratings of the then administration and domestic 

disenchantment which manifested itself with subsequent election results. Failure to find any mass destruction weapons , the problematic occupation and horrific mistreatment of prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison are major proofs of why the invasion was a failure.


The control of oil-rich regions has always been a strategic priority of great powers, as seen by the United States’ desire to exercise authority over the region commensurate with its worldwide stature. Furthermore, technical advancements resulted in a high need for oil as an energy source for military and economic purposes. Many foreign businesses found Iraqi oil appealing and economical due of its high value, large proved supply reserves of 112.5 billion barrels and above 200 billion barrels potential, and low production costs of $1 per barrel.[2]

Back at home in the United States, President George W. Bush began a formal case for attacking Iraq during his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 12th. Key allies like the United Kingdom supported the invasion, but France and Germany opposed it, preferring diplomacy and weapons inspections instead. The United Nations passed Resolution 1441, which authorized the resumption of weapon inspections and stipulated severe penalties for noncompliance. France and Russia were certain that no force should be used to remove the Iraqi government

According to a CBS poll conducted in January 2003, 64 percent of Americans supported military action against Iraq, 63 percent preferred a diplomatic solution rather than war, and 62 percent believed that the invasion would increase rather than diminish the threat of terrorism against the U.S.

President Bush’s belief that Saddam Hussein worked with al-Qaeda and that Iraq was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction to target the U.S. and its allies was called into question.


France, Canada, Germany, and New Zealand are among the U.S. allies who fiercely opposed the invasion of Iraq. According to the UMMOVIC’S 12th Feb 2003 report, these countries stated that there was no evidence of WMD and that invading that country was not justifiable.

There had been worldwide rallies against the Iraq war on February 15, 2003, a month before the invasion. The invasion was protested by 3 million people in Rome, who set a Guinness World Record for the greatest anti-war rally ever. According to Dominique Reynie, a French researcher, about 36 million people took part in around 3000 marches against the Iraqi war between January 3rd and April 12th, 2003.

Dilemmas’ of making decision for war.

Going to war has significant costs and consequences, and a leader must carefully consider the risks on a political, economic, and humanitarian level before going to war. Because wars, by their very nature, remain controversial long after they end, and leaders are judged by history on how they handled the conflict, the leader must first consider other options to armed force and only argue for use of force when these alternatives are no longer viable.[3]

From March 2003 through March 2008, a research was conducted to describe the effects the first five years of the Iraq war by weapons on civilians used, region (governorate), and victim demographic, totalling 92, 614 victims. Many people died as a result of extrajudicial murders carried out by unknown perpetrators utilizing suicide bombers, vehicle bombs, aerial weapons, and mortars, all of which were very destructive and indiscriminate in their effects on Iraqi civilians, women, and children.[4]

Legality of Iraq war

The Authorisation for the Iraqi invasion has been challenged on a number of fronts, including by some supporters of the invasion, considering that the human cost has been seen as being very high. While the evidence given was sufficient to justify the war, the Americans and the allies opposing the use of force argued for continued diplomacy, challenging the legality of the war, and arguing that the U.S. had more pressing security priorities that is (Afghanistan and North Korea) They predicted that the war could only destabilize the Middle East. The Commission led by the Netherlands set up in 2010 concluded that the invasion violated the international law.

In his work ‘Theory of Conflict and Iraq War’, Daniel Lieberfeld looked at Iraq from various analytical angles in order to better understand the causes of invasion decisions and the implications of each situation for a broader theory of war. The question at hand is to establish why the U.S. decision to invade.

Lieberfeld argues that the decision to attack Saddam Hussein on March 19, 2003 was the product of political prejudice, misguided priorities, and internal deception. And a great strategy by George W. Bush and the prominent “neoconservative”. One-sided and Balkan of the national security team. Some powerful post-9.11 idealists fear the public (and international goodwill) to intensify the threat of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as the main justification for unnecessary pre-emptive strikes.) Was used. The disarmament and democratization of Saddam Hussein’s brutal government was considered a moral imperative and essential to the long-term security interests of the United States. He continues. “To fully understand the causal link that led to the onset of military hostilities in 2003, the powerful and determined neoconservatives and unilateralists who advised him, with President Bush as a person, and prejudice, one need to understand the package of emotions, the beliefs and values ​​shared by the person responsible for counterfeiting the Bush Doctrine. He manages oil, democratizes the Middle East, eliminates the threat of mass destruction weapons, and terrorizes. It points out that it eliminates ties with and supplies industrial security facilities and meets Israeli demands. Bush himself is accused of weak qualities, lack of intelligence, and simple credibility. These include his peculiar beliefs, religious values, or decision-making styles that include his psychological predispositions or medical conditions such as the desire for revenge after Saddam Hussein.[5]

In reality, President Bush’s exaggeration of Iraq’s imminent and terrifying security threat complicates leaders’ decision to go to war for national security and power. There was no evidence that Iraq’s acquisition of weapons of mass destruction poses a sufficient threat to justify the attack. “The realistic view is as if it were, as long as the United States strives for hegemony and understands that its security relies on overwhelming military demonstrations. Significant national security interests were threatened, which meant being forced to respond to actual or potential attacks on itself or its allies.’ [6]

In addition, the U.S. was less constrained than it was during the cold war period, when the superpowers had mutual interests to avoid direct confrontation and increasingly adopted a policy of preventive war. A policy which in itself could trigger counter actions by challenger states that felt threatened by the aspiring hegemon. The U.S. targets viewed the development and deployment of nuclear weapons as a rational and necessary response to the insecurity engendered by U.S. efforts to ensure its own security (‘the security dilemma ‘in the realist theory).

Liberalist’s perspective would be that mature democracies do not fight among themselves but can fight with non-democracies which lack both transparency and governmental checks on the use of force when they perceive threats. In this regard, the decision to invade was due to administrations fear that Iraq would deceive weapon inspectors and secretary develop WMD for an attack on the U.S. or its allies.

From the elitists Interest perspective, it considers how actions of especially political and economic elitists affect decisions involving military and war. According to diversionary theory of war, unpopular, illegitimate or revolutionary regimes find external enemies to be politically useful and may undertake war as a means of self -legitimization and create consent regarding its policies to suppress divisions and dissent. In this respect, war could help distract President Bush administration which lacked legitimacy from an untainted electoral victory, mishandling of terrorist threats and responsibility for failure to prevent 9/11 attacks, inability to find Osama Bin Laden and his deputy and inability to prevent resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan among others. The war was thus a product of administration officials’ expectation that the Republican party would benefit from a rally-round – the flag’ effect during the war against Iraq.[7]

The damage created by the Invasion of Us in Iraq , has left multiple impacts on the future of foreign policy. The invasion has resulted to Iraq Syndrome , which draws parallel to the impact that Vietnam had on future U.S. foreign policy. This means that in the future the United States will have to be very keen and cautious when it comes to radical actions , more so on interacting with other countries. This does not however mean that the Us will learn from its past mistakes , until a major crisis occurs which may demand military action. 

Getting into war means that the president has to make tough decisions, which involve military action , and expectations of repercussions that could either have solutions or lead to more negative consequences. According to studies, the United States in the future will have to rethink about is approaches more on war, where using international forums and bodies could help in dealing with threats such as Iran, rather than having an invasion like the 2003 one ,which had a lot of negative consequences to Iran, and to the reputation of the country. This can help in making the country re-establish its international position, which has been dwindling . 


Lessons learnt from the two theories to better the decision-making process

The two theories can greatly aid in ensuring that there are better decision making strategies in the future, more so in the event of a war such as the Iran war. Strategy is made and implemented by leaders , and needs to be greatly considered in order to ensure efficiency and better decision making . Combining leadership, strategy and military performance can aid in ensuring that the right decisions regarding a war are made. 

From the theory of military effectiveness, it is manifest that it is a vital process which can help in measuring battlefield performance of given military force. For this lesson, the military force is the United States military which invaded Iraq, a foreign country. From the lesson, it is manifest that the theory of military effectiveness addresses the processes by which armed forces convert their resources into fighting power . By Effectiveness , is vital in that it incorporates the notion of efficiency . Military effectiveness measures how a military organization is able to damage its opponent while at the same time limit its own damage. Military practices are vital in combating effectiveness , but may still require moral strength and factors . The military will require high motivation, a legit reason, and have great leadership for them to be able to meet their set goals and objectives. From the lesson, it is manifest that having strategic leadership alongside other theories of military effectiveness can greatly aid in ensuring that the mission of the military is attained. 


From the theory of civil – military relations, there is a need for a better relationship between military organization and the civil society . This is since this aids in ensuring more effective management k, social science and policy scale s. The relationship between the two parties can also aid in harnessing military professional power , which will help in ensuring that interests of national security are served . The relationship can also aid in ensuring that the civil society helps in guarding against misuse of power , as a way of making sure that the wellbeing of the civilians is taken care of. 

Through such a relationship, the military is able to make responsible and strategic decision making , which will aid in ensuring civilian political leadership rather than having a military dictatorship. 

From the study, it is manifest that the role of the military is to protect the border of its country. However, it needs to be regulated to ensure that it works within its given mandate , where it needs to accept that civilian authorities have the power to make certain decisions , without its interference. According to the theory, the relationship between civilian authorities and the military leaders need to be worked out in practice. 

From past happenings such as the Iran war, it is manifest that military officers, federal civil servants, and political appointees all have a major role to play in shaping the American Civil-military relations. For example, the president of the United States , together with the entire government had to make tough decisions regarding the Iran Invasion. After their deliberation, they had to engage the military who would carry out the attacks. This is a clear evidence of the relationship between the two bodies, and how their collaboration aid in ensuring that they work towards the wellbeing of the civilians and the entire country at large. 

From the Iran war , and the civilian-military theory, it is manifest that 

there is need for a great relationship between the military and the civilian government for the stability of a nation. There is also 

a need for the military to not be too strong or weak . This is since when the military is allowed to be so weak . It is likely to collapse in the battlefield and is unable to assure the security of the society . On the other hand, when the military is too strong , it is likely to overthrow the civilian government. There is a need to ensure that there is this balance , so as to ensure that at the society interests are given the priority. On the other hand, the government and the legislative bodies need to make decisions that will have the best outcomes for a 

country. For example, it is till not manifest why President Bush sent the military to invade Iran, yet the claims of weapons of mass destruction accusation did not stand ground. The government can have much influence on the military actions such as the invasion of Iran, or Afghanistan , where some decision by the executives 

can affect the military operations. 



The war in Iraq ended and the U.S. managed to get their change of regime. However, there were no biological or Chemical WMD or any production infrastructure found. The invasion was a result of a long held agenda by politicians identifying as neoconservative ideology . They tried to remove Saddam, who they blamed for dictatorship , corruption and supporting terrorism. 

The impact of the war in Iraq is that it has led to more revelations about the reason behind the invasion, which was initially reported to be a reaction of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. The military invasion brings up the theories of military effectiveness and civil-military relations. The military effectiveness theory refers 

to the ability of the state to defend itself and prevent military aggression. On the other hand for the civil-military theory entails understanding the relationship between civilians and the military, where their collaboration is vital for the wellbeing of the citizens and ensuring that the right policies are enacted. 



[1] Hashim, A. (2003). Saddam Husayn and Civil-Military Relations in Iraq: The Quest for Legitimacy and Power. Middle East Journal, 57(1), 9–41. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4329849

[2] Noshab, F. (2003). CONTROL OF OIL: THE REAL OBJECTIVE OF US INVASION OF IRAQ? Strategic Studies, 23(2), 85–101. http://www.jstor.org/stable/45242468

[3] Maupin, L. (2006). The Decision to Go to War in Iraq. OAH Magazine of History, 20(3), 35–41. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25162049

[4] Hicks, M. H. R., Dardagan, H., Guerrero Serdán, G., Bagnall, P. M., Sloboda, J. A., & Spagat, M. (2011). Violent deaths of Iraqi civilians, 2003–2008: analysis by perpetrator, weapon, time, and location. PLoS medicine, 8(2), e1000415.


[5] Lieberfeld, D. (2005). THEORIES OF CONFLICT AND THE IRAQ WAR. International Journal of Peace Studies, 10(2), 1–21. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41852927

[6] Özdemir, R. (2011). Invasion of Iraq: a reflection of realism. Turkish Journal of Politics, 2(2), 103-115.

[7] Lieberfeld, D. (2005). THEORIES OF CONFLICT AND THE IRAQ WAR. International Journal of Peace Studies, 10(2), 1–21. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41852927

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