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Operation Iraqi Freedom : the United States and the idea of 'great power responsibility' in international society

Aslam, Muhammad Wali (2007) Operation Iraqi Freedom : the United States and the idea of 'great power responsibility' in international society. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

The full text of this thesis is not available.

Abstract

This thesis is a normative analysis of the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 (codenamed Operation Iraqi Freedom). It examines whether Operation Iraqi Freedom could be described as a responsible action by the United States, acting as a great power. The normative perspective and its attendant framework are based on the theoretical approach propounded by the English School of International Relations. The basis of this non-native framework is rooted in the pluralist conception of the English School. The pluralist wing of the English School emphasises the importance of international order and declares that the great powers have a responsibility to protect this order. The threat posed to international order by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was cited by the Administration of US President George W Bush as the main reason for invading Iraq. The action makes the pluralist conception a logical starting point from which to analyse this act. Therefore, the normative framework of this thesis states that, although a great power has a responsibility to act in order to counter a threat to international order, it has an obligation to act according to certain norms. The normative framework established in this thesis points to three obligations of great powers, relating to the norms of legality, legitimacy and prudence. Addressing the issue of legality is the first step this thesis takes towards assessing Operation Iraqi Freedom as a responsible action. From this perspective, the thesis argues that it is not possible to define the American-led invasion of Iraq as a legal act. However, in a situation in which a great power may not be able to act according to legal norms, given a consensus regarding an overwhelming threat to international order, this power would have a moral responsibility to act. Such an action may not fall within the commonly accepted norms of law but the presence of consensus would give legitimacy to this great power's actions. Hence, examining Operation Iraqi Freedom from the viewpoint of legitimacy emerges as the second step by which this thesis evaluates it as a responsible action. The analysis from this perspective reveals that, through the perspective of legitimacy, it is not possible to declare the American invasion of Iraq as a responsible action by a great power. Though a great power has a responsibility to act legally and legitimately, in the case of a clear threat to international order, this power may not think it in the common interest to wait for legal and diplomatic processes to take their course. In such a situation, a great power may choose to act - but under the obligation to act prudently. The third step employed by this thesis is thus to analyse and discuss whether Operation Iraqi Freedom could be described as a prudent action. The examination of the invasion from this perspective determines that it is not possible to class the American invasion of Iraq as a responsible action according to the principles of prudence. Hence this thesis affirms that Operation Iraqi Freedom could not be described as a responsible action according to the normative criteria outlined above. In the run-up to the invasion and in its initiation, the United States did not fulfil the three obligations (relating to legality, legitimacy and prudence) necessary for a great power to fulfil while combating a threat to international order. Thus, seen from the pluralist perspective of the English School, this thesis argues that Operation Iraqi Freedom was an irresponsible action by the US acting as a great power.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: This thesis is available for consultation in print copy at the University of Leeds library. It is not available electronically. http://lib.leeds.ac.uk/record=b2897000
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) (Leeds)
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2010 10:18
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 10:27
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/199

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