Throughout George W. Bush’s administration policy towards Iraq between January 2001 and his decision to intervene in March 2003 American foreign policymakers have demonstrated their desire to act unilaterally contrary to their declaration that multilateralism is extremely important. During George W. Bush’s first month in office his foreign policy team revealed to the American people that they were going to deal with the world in ways that previous Presidents had not done before, they would be adopting a new confrontational approach to deal with international issues.
Thus making their underlying desire to act unilaterally towards the rest of the world clear. America’s desire to act unilaterally was partially due to the fact they believed that they were untouchable. Since they had built up their military force they started believing they would not need to compromise with what any other nation desired as their military power was so great. This was defiantly a different approach from the first war against Iraq lead by George H. W. Bush. The success of this war was due to the inclusive nature of the alliances that Bush acquired against Suddam Hussein.
Changing global circumstances and recalculations of national security priorities were the main reasons that Bush Il was unable to match the success of George H. W. Bush’s anti-Suddam coalition . Both these issues lessened the need for multilateral action and meant that Bush II would begin to have unilateral tendencies throughout his presidency. The policy choices Bush made over Iraq was primarily based on the experiences in Afghanistan after the attacks on the 11th September 2001, which began America’s war on terror. Because of Bush’s focus on unilateral actions he began to purposely form a narrow military arrangement.
While the Bush administration gained endorsements from all of the major international organisations: UN, NATO, Organization of American States (OAS) and the EU this however was not to create a multilateral coalition but to make sure America could choose its allies so they could avoid dealing with the whole alliance. As Philip Gordon stated: the United States saw the support of other nations as politically useful rather than militarily. America’s use of precision weaponry during their campaign demonstrated the unilateral approach to the military operation.
When it came to Iraq Bush seemed to feel that preventing Suddam Hussein from acquiring any weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was the top priority of the nation. During Bus’s State of Union address on the 29th January 2002 he went on to identify North Korea, Iran and Iraq as members of an “axis of evil” Thus Bush developed a policy of preventative war known as the “Bush Doctrine” which would then form the basis for the National Security Strategy. During this time there was no policy debate that the Europeans could join thus showing just how much the United States was unwilling to include any other nation in their decision.
After the failure of the United Nations inspection to bring forward anything that the Security Council members deemed enough for the use of force, many Americans, including Cheney feared that bringing in the UN a second time would hinder the same result and create a false hope for the world that Saddam had now been controlled and was no longer a threat to anyone. This did not go down well in Europe, Gerhard Schroder, the German chancellor used his disapproval as part of his re-election campaign and Jacques Chirac, the French President was extremely unhappy with America’s unilateral approach.
Cheney suspected that Hussein would give the inspectors just enough so that America was unable to gain international support for military action. America thus went and proposed that tougher inspection regulations should be implemented however this draft would not be passed by members of the Security Council as nations such as France, China and Russia considered tougher inspections but no-one would support the use of military involvement. The vice resident however had a more unilateral way of thinking and believed that international support was not necessary. He believed that once they had taken out Saddam most of the world would come around and share America’s view. By September Bush went back to the UN and criticised them on not fulfilling the purpose of its formation. He challenged them to enforce the numerous Security Council resolutions that had been passed on Iraq. By mid-September Bush warned the UN that war was going to be unavoidable if peace and security was not met.
At this point the whole world could see Americas desire to act unilaterally and had such become just as much of an issue as Iraq was, meaning that there was no way any Security Council members were going to support what the United States had in mind. Congress went on to pass a resolution, which would authorize Bush to attack Iraq and use unilateral and preventative action if Bush deemed it essential on the 10th October 2002. This scared the Security Council as they deemed America’s threat of unilateral action a very serious matter.
This forced the United Nations to adopt resolution 1441, which would include new inspection regimes and threatening Iraq of serious consequences if they were not to obey and embrace the disarmament. By November 8th 2002 resolution 1441 was passed, America now was unsure has to what extent Iraq noncooperation would bring on war and they were not prepared to deal with a situation where there were differing interpretations about Iraq’s compliance. America was only able to think with a unilateral approach to the situation.
On the 7th December 2002, one month after Resolution 1441 was passed by the United Nations, Iraq’s weapon declaration was submitted, however they failed to include all updated documentation about their possession of weapons. America thus decided since Iraq failed to comply to the United Nations request that force would have to be used even if other nations did not agree. America’s desire to act unilaterally resulted in unrest across Europe. France was one nation that felt strongly about avoiding war with Iraq. They did not think that Iraq’s declaration was enough means for immediate war.
Other Security Council members including the British also supported this notion. Confusion was met when America began to quickly deploy their military forces, if America was going to follow a multilateral approach like they had previously stated then deploying military personnel to the region would be unnecessary. The dismissal of France’s view that more time should be given to inspectors demonstrated to the rest of the world America’s decision to act unilaterally as they deemed a war against Iraq as inevitable.
They were not going to wait for the United Nations Security Council debates. Both France and Germany felt strongly about not supporting America in the decision to go to war. The question now for America was not whether to go to war but how to get the most international support, in fact when Bush’s national security adviser Condoleezza Rice met with Chirac’s diplomatic adviser Maurice Gourdault-Montagne in Washington it was made clear that Bush was going to war no matter the circumstances.
When Spanish president Jose Maria Aznar met with Bush on 22nd February 2003 Bush made it cleared that he wished to punish the smaller nations, including Russia, if they did not vote with the US on the second UN resolution. Although Bush realized he did not have the support of most of the world he believed that he could gain enough votes to make it look as if the whole Security Council body had authorized military action. Bush went on to declare that bringing the second resolution to the United Nations was just a cover story to hide the real agenda of public diplomacy.
This act of deception showed America’s need to make it seem like they believed in multilateralism when all they really wanted to do was act unilaterally. Defeat came for Bush when on March 16th there were not enough votes necessary for the United Nations to support the war. The rest of the world were becoming increasingly suspicious of America’s motives for going to war and feared what would happen if they won. Hence why preferring alternative policy schemes. However because of America’s unilateral way of thinking Bush was unfazed by these concerns and on March 16th decided to go ahead with his plan of attack.
On March 17th Bush gave Saddam Hussein a 48hour ultimatum to give up his power over Iraq. Two days later Bush began his bombardment and the debate whether to go to war or not was over. Once the war began Europeans refused to continue to help America like they had once done during the Cold War as it had become extremely clear to them that they had done so for their own purposed without even taking into consideration what Europe wanted. By having an unilateral approach to the war America had excluded itself from help from other nations.
America however disagreed and believed fighting nuclear proliferation and terrorism is the same thing. Meaning that if they cannot gain international agreement they have the right to act alone if there is a threat. However few links have been made between the two. In conclusion America’s desire to seem as if they had implemented a multilateral approach to the war against Iraq failed as was shown in Bush Il’s presidency especially between the period of January 2001 and March 2003.
The result of America’s unwillingness to take into consideration any other nations view on the opinion meant that they had little support from anybody else. The fight with the United Nation’s Security Council members to get on board with the use of force against Irag deemed unsuccessful and resulted in America being unilateral and going to war with Iraq without the support of the UN. Once the bombardment began the discussion on if they should go to war was over. America’s unilateral approach meant the loss of allies that may have affected other presidents to come.