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US National Security Interests. Iraq. Defining National Security Interests. US National Security Policy US National Interests : “our perceived needs and aspirations in relation to our international engagement ” Vital National Interest

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US National Security Interests

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Us national security interests

US National Security Interests


Defining national security interests

Defining National Security Interests

US National Security Policy

US National Interests: “our perceived needs and aspirations in relation to our international engagement”

  • Vital National Interest

    • When threatened – US must act; not acting will have immediate, critical consequences to US Interests.

  • Important National Interests

    • Not acting to protect these will cause damage, that may eventually have critical consequences.

  • Peripheral National Interests

    • Unlikely to affect critical national interests.

Elements national power

Elements National Power

  • Diplomatic – efforts in direct and indirect diplomacy, through our State Department professionals.

  • Informational - Information dissemination to shape our interests and behavior of other nations.

  • Military – application of military power.

  • Economic - use of US Economic Power to shape behavior

Us national security interests


slightly smaller than California


~ 26.5 million

Largest city:

Baghdad (5.6 million)


97% Muslim (65% Shia)

3% Christian


80% Arabic

20% Kurdish


Sandstorm southeastern iraq

Sandstorm- Southeastern Iraq

Us national security interests

Zagros Mountains

near Sulaimaniyah

Us national security interests

Wheat fields

in the Jazirah

Alluvial plain

Alluvial plain

Us national security interests

Marshes of southern Iraq

Us national security interests

Long-standing patterns

in the history of Iraq

Continue to have

a strong impact

on your present area of operation

Major patterns in the history of iraq

Major Patterns in the History of Iraq

  • Tribes and cities have been mutually dependent and competing for power for over 4000 years.

  • Women and domestic space have been segregated for at least 4000 years

  • States have been relocating people to reduce their ability to resist for nearly 3000 years

  • Islam is also an historical, cultural, and civilizational reference point

  • Conflict for control of Mesopotamia (Iraq) between western powers and Persia (Iran)

  • Favoritism towards minority Sunni urban elite, discrimination against majority Shia rural poor

  • Absence of democratic traditions and institutions in modern Iraq

Comparative view of the historical context

United States


Comparative view of the Historical context

  • Older nation

  • Younger history and culture

  • History of democratic transition in government

  • Citizenship as idiom of participation in rule

  • Tradition of pluralism and open debate

  • Younger nation

  • Older history and culture

  • History of violent changes of government

  • Tribalism and ethnicity as idiom of participation in rule

  • Tradition of particularlism and repression of dissent

Us national security interests

Provinces of Iraq

History of iraq

History of Iraq

  • Ancient Mesopotamia (3500 BC – 300 AD)

  • Early Islam (650 – 1258 AD)

  • Ottoman empire (1520 - 1917)

  • Modern Iraq (1921 to present)

Modern iraq political rule

Modern IraqPolitical Rule

  • Monarchy 1921-1958

  • Qasim regime 1958-1963

  • Continued military rule 1963-1968

  • Baathist control 1968-1979

  • Baathism under Saddam 1979-2003

Us national security interests

Baathist Iraq: 1968 - 2003

No genuine political participation

No institutionalized, legitimate rule

Real power in the hands of a narrow, tribal-based elite

Recap modern iraq

Recap: Modern Iraq

  • Failure to build broadly-based political institutions

  • No popular “buy-in” to political process

  • Reliance on tribes to govern

  • Involvement of military in governing

  • Shia and Kurds largely excluded

  • Instability and violent change of government are the norm

Contemporary military history in iraq

Contemporary Military History in Iraq

  • Iran – Iraq War – 1980 – 1988

  • “First Gulf War” – 1991

  • Operation Iraqi Freedom – 2003 - present

Iran iraq war

Iran – Iraq War

  • Continuation of Persian – Western Conflict

  • Initiated by newly Fundamentalist Iran:

    • Shah of Iran is deposed, and fundamental Islamists control Iran.

    • Opposed to ‘secular’ rule in Iraq by Baathists/Hussein.

    • Repression of Shia Tribes in Iraq.

  • US sides with Iraq in latter stages of the war.

  • Ends in a Stalemate, but with both nations weakened from years of war.

Persian gulf war 1991

Persian Gulf War - 1991

  • Iraq Invades Kuwait

  • Threatens Saudi Arabia

  • Thirty-one nation coalition led by the US defends Saudi Arabia; pushes Iraqi Army from Kuwait

  • Aftermath:

    • US presence in Saudi Arabia

    • Hussein retribution against Shia, Kurds

    • UN Peace Treaty & Resolutions

The road to gulf war ii

The Road To Gulf War II

  • Continued repression of minority Kurds and majority Shia.

  • UN enforced “No Fly Zones”

  • UN restrictions on Iraqi weapons development.

  • UN economic sanctions

  • US Policy of Regime Change in Iraq

  • 9/11

Operation iraqi freedom 2003

Operation Iraqi Freedom - 2003

  • Small Coalition of the “willing”

  • Not sanctioned by the UN

  • US Led Operation:

    • Quick, decisive defeat of Iraqi Conventional Military forces.

    • Overthrow of Hussein/Baathists.

  • “Mission Accomplished”……..

Oif 2004 2006

OIF – 2004-2006

  • Lack of security throughout the nation.

  • Confusion among US agencies

  • Widespread Sectarian Violence. (Internal)

    • Fight for political control

  • Foreign “Insurgents” (External)

    • Foment sectarian violence

    • Kill Americans

    • Drive America from Iraq

  • Lack of basic government & services for Iraqi citizens.

  • Growing Iranian influence and support of Shia militias.

The surge

“The Surge”

  • Increased US Combat Troops:

  • Change in Tactics:

    • Units deployed alongside Iraqi Sec Forces in neighborhoods.

    • Bring security and support to Baghdad

  • Change in Strategy:

    • Work with Tribes and Militias to improve security and drive out insurgency.

    • Increase Military authority.

  • Refocus on Reconstruction & Security

The situation jan 2009

The Situation – Jan 2009

  • Much safer – everywhere

  • Insurgency is defeated.

  • Militias are “beating guns into plowshares”

  • Iraqi political leadership is stronger and better able to govern.

  • Iranian influence has been reduced.

  • Reconstruction has flourished.

  • Services to citizens and economy are growing.

Electricity reconstruction overview

Electricity Reconstruction Overview

  • There are 3 generation projects valued at $223.5M as of 5 Dec 08. The forecasted completion date of all generation work is Mar 09. The Qudas Power Plant Expansion will be the last to complete.

  • Mullah Unit one

  • The Qudas Power Plant Expansion will strengthen the Baghdad Ring and serve 180,000 - 235,000 homes. The contractor is striving to provide power to the grid with one GTG operating on distillate fuel by end of CY08 & with the second GTG in same status by Jan 09.

  • Qudas –Unit 9 auxiliary package alignment final adjustments

  • World Bank Estimate: $20B U.S. Contribution: $4.3B

  • Qudas - Gas Turbine Generator #9

  • There are 8 transmission projects in progress valued at $151.1M as of 5 Dec 08. The forecasted completion date of transmission work is 30 Sep 09. The Ghammas Substation will be the last to complete.

  • Transmission

  • Work is now completed connecting Haditha Substation Baghdad Bay to West Baghdad.

Gulf Region Division ~ US Army Corps of Engineers

  • Distribution

Ribbon cutting ceremony at new elementary school june 2008

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at new Elementary School – June 2008

The risk

The Risk

  • Lack of political progress –

    • Are Kurds and Sunni’s represented ?

    • Will majority Shia share power ?

    • Will citizens believe in elections ?

  • Security is tenuous –

    • Sectarian violence can return

    • Insurgents

    • Iran

    • Turkey and Kurds.

  • ISF cannot operate without US Military support.

  • What happens to the US if Iraq becomes a failed state

The solution

The Solution


Issues for us policy makers

Issues for US Policy Makers

  • Is Iraq a US vital National Interest ?

  • What is US objective & desired outcome ?

  • What is the cost to achieve the objective ?

  • Is the future cost of operations worth the outcome (Risk/Reward) ?

  • How do we achieve our objectives ?

    • Diplomatic- Military

    • Informational- Economic



  • “Go to War” decision-making

  • Iraq as a National Interest

  • Middle East as a National Interest.

  • What is the Global War on Terrorism?

    • How is Iraq related to GWOT?

    • How is Afghanistan related to GWOT?

  • What if ?? Second order effects…

  • US Defense Strategy Under the Bush Administration – “Preemption”

  • What Strategy will/should the Obama Administration Pursue ?

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