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Why did the United States choose to invade Iraq in March 2003?

Renowned Tufts scholar addresses the Bush Doctrine and the ideological origins of the Iraq war.

Addressing a capacity audience of scholars, journalists, foreign dignitaries, and other distinguished guests at an event co-organized on October 17, 2007 in Athens by the Kokkalis Foundation and ELIAMEP, renowned Tufts University professor and Harvard Center for European Studies fellow Charles Anthony Smith captivated the audience with his incursion into the ideological origins of the Iraq war. Why did the United States choose to invade Iraq in March 2003? For answers, some look to mistaken concerns about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction; others point to the power controlling Iraqi oil could bring to the U.S.; yet others examine concerns for Israel’s security; still others look to the problematic father/son relationship of George H. W. and George W. Bush. Tony Smith's talk, based on his new book A Pact with the Devil: Washington’s Bid for World Supremacy and the Betrayal of the American Promise, focuses instead on how an ideology of superpower competence and mission gave America a sense of omnipotence as it moved to dominate not just Iraq but what was often called in official circles “The Broader Middle East.” Professor Tony Smith’s lecture analyzed the logic of the Bush Doctrine -the framework for American foreign policy set out by Washington in 2002 that justified the Iraq War. As it happens, Professor Smith argued, all the elements of this Doctrine were established by the late 1990s. The attack of 9/11 allowed this action program to be made in to public policy, but the ideology of the American mission preceded, it did not follow, the terrorist attack on America, the American scholar stressed. Because the political elite in the United States was convinced it had military supremacy beyond challenge, and because it believed that its formula of “market democracy” could be made to fit any situation, for Tony Smith Washington was convinced it could win any war as well as control the shape of the peace that would follow. The strength of this conviction was such that still today, Professor Smith concluded, with the presidential election of 2008 scarcely a year away, the elites of both the Democratic and the Republican parties for the most part remain convinced that America is “the indispensable nation,” with the power and the ideas that alone can bring stability to world order. In a word, the professor stated, America remains possessed of an Imperial Hubris relatively undiminished despite the calamity of Iraq. Professor Smith concluded by offering his insight on the extraordinary staying-power of this bipartisan conviction.



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