Three War Aims

Report Middle East

Three War Aims

March 19, 2003 2 min read

Authors: Baker Spring and Jack Spencer

The Bush Administration should conduct this military operation -- to end Saddam Hussein's brutal and menacing regime in Iraq -- based on three war aims:


  1. Eliminating Iraq's terrorist infrastructure and weapons of mass destruction programs. The military force should be large enough to perform this mission rapidly. When the President is able to certify that all of Iraq's terrorist support and its weapons of mass destruction infrastructure, programs, and arsenal have been accounted for and destroyed, this element of the post-war force should be withdrawn.

  2. Precluding a hostile Iraq -- or Iran once Saddam Hussein is removed from power -- from dominating the Persian Gulf region. The post-war force would need to be large enough to block any Iranian incursions into largely Shiite areas south of Baghdad and capable enough to block Iranian infiltration into the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq to bolster Kurdish separatist movements. The time it will take to secure this aim will likely be lengthy, since it will depend on the reconstruction of a reliable and friendly Iraqi military force capable of standing up to Iran with a relatively modest U.S. security commitment.

  3. Protecting Iraq's energy infrastructure to ensure that world energy markets continue to have access to those resources. It is uncertain how long this effort could take, but it is a less complex and narrower mission than the other two. At the outset, protecting the energy infrastructure should involve infantry brigades, but over time, this element of the force could gradually transition to military police brigades before eventually drawing down the force size as the situation stabilizes. This would provide the United States military commanders with the necessary flexibility to transition from a combat force to a military police presence. The United States also should seek to turn this responsibility over to reconstituted Iraqi security forces.

At the political level, the Administration also should utilize the post-war U.S. military presence to help give Iraq's new, presumably more-friendly leaders a better opportunity to develop an inclusive federal system of government.


This WebMemo is excerpted from a Backgrounder: In Post-War Iraq, Use Military Forces to Secure Vital U.S. Interests, Not for Nation-Building, by Baker Spring and Jack Spencer. Full footnotes and analysis are available there.


Baker Spring
Baker Spring

F.M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy

Jack Spencer
Jack Spencer

Vice President, the Institute for Economic Freedom

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