Richard Ned Lebow


On his book Why Nations Fight: Past and Future Motives for War

Cover Interview of October 03, 2010

A close-up

The Iraq invasion of 2003 was justified by the Bush administration on the grounds of national security.  But all of the principal advisors of the administration of president George W. Bush’s father privately told the president that no security or economic interest was at stake—and that intervention could put them at risk.

Oil is another unsatisfactory explanation for the Iraq invasion.  The oil companies themselves did not favor war, but wanted the administration to end sanctions so they could buy and distribute Iraqi oil.

The invasion is best understood as an attempt to exploit America’s comparative military advantage to lock in “the unipolar movement” for reasons of standing.  Rather than making friend and foe alike more complaint, it provided the need and opportunity for them to become more recalcitrant.