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Groupthink, Iraq, and the War on Terror: Explaining US Policy Shift toward Iraq

Dina Badie
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-8594.2010.00113.x 277-296 First published online: 1 October 2010

Abstract

Existing scholarship on the Iraq War decision-making process generally treats the event as a logical extension of pre-existing ideas and policies. This paper considers the Bush administration's decision to absorb Iraq into the broader War on Terror as a deviation from long-held views of Saddam Hussein. I argue that the decision to incorporate Iraq into the wider post 9/11 mission was pathologically driven by groupthink, which caused a shift in the administration's view of Saddam from a troubling dictator to an existential threat to US security. Therefore, groupthink can simultaneously explain the defects in the decision-making process and the shift from cautious restraint to accelerated urgency with respect to US relations with Iraq.

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