e-Research: A Journal of Undergraduate Work

Article Title

On Shaky Grounds: Reasons behind the failure to adhere to the "Powell Doctrine" in the 2003 Iraq invasion


Sasha Anderson


Why did we go to war with Iraq and what are we still doing there? This question is one of our most pressing foreign policy issues and continues to be hotly debated by politicians, journalists and citizens. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was executed in a strikingly different fashion than the strategy used in an earlier conflict with Iraq, the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991. Rather than follow a strategy consisting of clear goals, overwhelming force and a predetermined exit strategy, the US military blundered into Iraq in 2003 without a way to measure victory and without a plan for how to extract themselves from the conflict. This murky strategy in no way resembles the policy that became known as the "Powell Doctrine" that was so well implemented in Iraq in the 1990s. Though the two conflicts involve the same opposition and similar motivations, the Powell Doctrine was not followed in 2003, potentially due to lack of US and international support, a changing media environment, the ambiguity of the phrase "war on terror," and the political ambitions of George W. Bush.