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The Art of Creating PowerFreedman on Strategy$
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Benedict Wilkinson and James Gow

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190851163

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190851163.001.0001

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The Iraq Syndrome Revisited

The Iraq Syndrome Revisited

America’s use of Force Debate Under Obama

Chapter:
(p.187) 11 The Iraq Syndrome Revisited
Source:
The Art of Creating Power
Author(s):

David Hastings Dunn

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190851163.003.0012

Commencing from an observation by Freedman that Donald Rumsfeld’s legacy as US Secretary for Defense was comparable with that of Robert McNamara, and that where the latter begat the ‘Vietnam syndrome’ , the former would leave behind the ‘Iraq syndrome’. Analysis of discourse under President Obama reveals that the effects of Iraq are more profound than Freedman indicated. In the Obama era the use of force itself was ever more in doubt. In limiting US commitment to fighting for core interests and formal allies, the Obama administration broke with the main post-war tradition of US foreign policy. This made the use or threat of force more difficult, as the appetite for risk was blunted by its experience in Iraq. Obama’s position was unhelpful in embracing the implications of the limitations of American power. US ‘risk aversion’ risked failing both the US and the world.

Keywords:   Use of Force, Vietnam Syndrome, Iraq Syndrome, Obama, Rumsfeld, McNamara, Risk Aversion

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