Middle East Research and Information Project: Critical Coverage of the Middle East Since 1971

Behind the Drive to War in Iraq: A Backgrounder on the Crisis

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In a concise primer published by the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), Sarah Graham-Brown, author of Sanctioning Saddam (1999), and Chris Toensing, editor of Middle East Report, offer answers to the major questions swirling around the Iraq crisis of 2002 that eventually led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Does Saddam Hussein’s regime pose a “mortal threat” to the US and Iraq’s neighbors? How have sanctions imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait affected ordinary Iraqis? How has the Iraqi regime stayed in power despite its defeat in the Gulf war and a decade of sanctions? Has the US attempted to end the 12-year confrontation between Iraq and the UN through peaceful diplomacy? What drives the Bush administration’s policy of “regime change”?

George W. Bush’s administration was seeking a UN resolution threatening ”consequences” for Iraqi non-cooperation with toughened weapons inspections but US-led military intervention to remove Saddam Hussein’s regime appeared to be a likely denouement to the crisis. While Bush claimed that “America speaks with one voice” on the urgent need to topple Hussein, demonstrations across the country showed that much of the US public has not accepted the administration’s case for war.  But the administration was determined to make this war happen.

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