Choosing War: The Decision to Invade Iraq and Its Aftermath   [open pdf - 927KB]

"The goal of this case study is to outline how the United States chose to go to war in Iraq, how its decisionmaking process functioned, and what can be done to improve that process. The central finding of this study is that U.S. efforts in Iraq were hobbled by a set of faulty assumptions, a flawed planning effort, and a continuing inability to create security conditions in Iraq that could have fostered meaningful advances in stabilization, reconstruction, and governance. It is arguable whether the Iraqis will develop the wherewithal to create ethnic reconciliation and build a coherent national government. It is clear, however, that the United States and its partners have not done enough to create conditions in which such a development could take place. […]. A comprehensive narrative of the war is beyond the scope of this project. Many key actors have not yet given their sides of the story. Given classification problems, the role played by intelligence and information operations can only be partially dissected. There is sufficient information, however, to make preliminary conclusions, especially since the focal point here is on the major decisions made at the Presidential, interagency, Cabinet department, and theater levels, all of which are areas of relatively rich documentation. The first four parts of this study will briefly analyze the context of the war and how the United States planned for it. The fifth section will analyze the decisionmaking process. The final section will discuss potential changes to our decisionmaking, organizational, and operational systems."

Report Number:
Occasional Paper 5
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
National Defense University, Institute for National Strategic Studies: http://www.ndu.edu/inss
Media Type:
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Listed on April 23, 2008 [Critical Releases]