President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney were all key policymakers with regards to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Their personalities, ambitions and backgrounds all contributed to the stances that they took, for example it has been argued that Rice was motivated by a desire to emulate President Bush’s position on the war in order to enhance her career and the view has been expressed that Bush and Rumsfeld were motivated by their religious beliefs. The structure of the policy-making process complicated decision-making, as there was in-fighting between the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department regarding overlapping roles.

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However, Congress had the same stance on going to war as the Executive, and the international environment was driven by a fear of terrorism, laying the foundation for the U.S. to go to war. The prisoners’ dilemma is when two parties do not agree upon a course of action due to a mutual belief that one party might not honor the agreement. This situation applies to disarmament/non-proliferation. It can be mitigated by both parties being members of an institution with a common set of values. However, there are always going to be periods in history when two parties that disagree are not members of such an institution, which means that the realist approach holds true.

The key policy makers in the war in Iraq included President Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney (University of Vermont, n.d.). It has been argued that Cheney’s personality was characterized by a relentless fervor that drove him forward in his quest to rid Iraq of these weapons even in the face of evidence that they did not exist. The view has been expressed that he developed hyper-sensitivity towards threats during his time in the Whitehouse. This may have also contributed to his stance (The Economist, 2007). He was also highly ambitious, which might have factored into his stance, as he may have believed that being one of the individuals who advocated a war that he thought would go on to be won would advance the levels of recognition that he received and increase his power further still (Killough, 2013).

The threat that was supposedly posed by weapons of mass destruction also motivated Condoleeza Rice’s pro-war stance (University of Vermont, n.d.). The view has been expressed that she is extremely ambitious and that this is what motivated her to emulate Bush’s stance with regards to the Iraq war, as she believed that it would benefit her career. This may have stemmed from her upbringing, as her parents placed a great amount of pressure upon her to excel at whatever she did (Helbrunn, 2008).

President Bush’s belief in the certainty of his own moral decisions and his willingness to let this override strategic calculation caused him to support the war in Iraq. He was not driven by ambition of a will to advance himself in any way; he was more influenced by his own personal beliefs and his reactionary nature. It could be argued that his Christian background had an influence upon his propensity to react, as he has claimed at several times throughout his political career that he was drive by the hand of God (Piffner, 2003). Historian Richard Brookhiser has stated that ‘Practically, Bush’s faith means that he does not tolerate, or even recognize, ambiguity: there is an all-knowing God who decrees certain behaviors, and leaders must obey’ (2003, as cited in Piffner, 2003, p. 168).

Rumsfeld desired to invade Iraq as early as 2001 (University of Vermont, n.d.). His personality was characterized by an ambition for challenges (Danner, 2013) and he was driven by a desire to demonstrate his skill at developing military strategies (University of Vermont, n.d.). It appears that his religious background may have also played a part in his pro-war stance, as the briefings that he provided George Bush with came equipped with Bible quotes to make his points (Thompson, 2009).

The structure of the policy-making process for Iraq included the CIA, Pentagon and State Department all having an input. The CIA provided information and assessed the threat that was posed by the likelihood of Iraq harboring weapons of mass destruction (Pena & Record, 2004), the Pentagon were charged with the task of examining what military options could be taken and providing advice and information and the State Department did likewise (University of Vermont, n.d.). It was been alleged that there was infighting and mutual jealousy between the CIA and the Pentagon on account of the fact that they were both involved in gathering information about terrorists, which meant that they had a clash of roles (Schmitt, 2006). This may have made it more difficult for them to come to mutually agreed decisions.

The Pentagon and the State Department were also fiercely competitive with one another over who should be responsible for post-war aid efforts once the war had finished. Arthur Helton of the Council on Foreign Relations warned that this disagreement between the two factions was damaging the planning process (Gwertzman, 2003). In addition to these points, the CIA was said to be jealous of the fact that the State Department assigned certain duties to the Department of Defense without involving it (Rockerfeller, 2008). All of these factors would be likely to make it more difficult for cohesive collaborative decisions to be made. However, the Executive managed to get Congress on side with regards to the issue of the war and the two factions were unified in their belief that it was the correct course of action. The view has been expressed that Congress was conditioned to view the Gulf region as being of the utmost importance to U.S. interests for decades and that this was why it agreed so vehemently with the Executive on this issue (University of Vermont, n.d.).

The international environment was irreversibly altered after 9/11, and this shaped America’s decision to go to war. Islamic terrorist groups were more prominent than before and spread fear about their activities throughout the world, as they operated in a multitude of different nations (Rabasa, 2004; Thaler, 2004). This is likely to have also contributed to the propensity of the international community to support the move towards war. It is therefore probable that it had a major impact upon the decision to invade Iraq.

The hypothetical situation known as the ‘prisoners’ dilemma’ applies to disarmament/non-proliferation. In this situation, two prisoners who are both guilty are jailed separately. If both of them confess, they will receive one-year sentences, if neither of them confess then they will receive thirty-day sentences and if one confesses and the other pleads guilty, the one who confessed will be freed and the other will be given a five-year sentence. This means that in spite of the mutual benefit that denying guilt would bring about, self-interested individuals would plead guilty, as they could not be sure of the other party’s actions. In the case of disarmament/non-proliferation, the same principle applies, as although it would be mutually beneficial, neither side can be sure that the other would honor any agreement that was made (Pruitt).

There are ways of building trust so that the prisoners’ dilemma would not apply to non-proliferation. If both parties belong to a ‘common society’ and believe that failing to follow a course of action is betraying its principles then they will be more likely to embark upon that course of action (Pruitt), in this case entering into a non-proliferation agreement. This ‘common society’ could be an institution centered on establishing international codes of practice, such as the U.N. Some might argue that the realist approach is correct. This approach holds that conflict is endemic and that the best that mankind can hope for is temporary periods between war. This is likely to be true, as there are bound to be periods when nations that are not part of ‘common societies’ refuse to agree due to the prisoners’ dilemma. However, the fact that membership of these institutions is by no means permanent does not mean that they can help humanity to avoid conflict for extended lengths of time and contribute to world peace.