Balance Sheet: The Iraq War and U.S. National Security

Balance Sheet: The Iraq War and U.S. National Security

Balance Sheet: The Iraq War and U.S. National Security

Balance Sheet: The Iraq War and U.S. National Security


The last six years have witnessed a virtually unending debate over U. S. policy toward Iraq, a debate that is likely to continue well into the new administration and perhaps the next, notwithstanding recent improvements on the ground.

Too often, however, the debate has been narrowly framed in terms of the situation in Iraq and what steps the United States should take there next, leaving the broader impact of the war on American interests largely overlooked. Ultimately, though, the success and failure of the war will have to be judged in terms of its overall contribution to U. S. national security, including those repercussions that extend far beyond the borders of Iraq.

This book addresses this gap by providing a comprehensive evaluation of the consequences of the Iraq war for the national security of the United States. It is aimed at both those who have not yet made up their minds about the merits of the war and those who wish to ground their opinions in a clearer understanding of what effects the war has actually had.

Balance Sheet examines both how the war has advanced or retarded the achievement of other important goals of U. S. national security policy and its impact on the ability of the United States to pursue its security interests now and in the future. Individual chapters by expert authors address such key issues as the war on terror, nuclear non-proliferation, stability in the Middle East, the health of the U. S. military, America's standing in the world, and U. S. public opinion.

By doing justice to the full range of stakes involved, this book not only reframes the debate over the Iraq war but provides a necessary foundation for future U. S. policymaking toward Iraq and beyond.


Some projects take a long time to come to fruition, and this one is no exception. Its origins date to the summer of 2003. That is when we first thought of conducting a comprehensive assessment of the impact of the Iraq War on U.S. national security, to be published around the first anniversary of the invasion. In retrospect, the notion of such a quick assessment so soon after the war began seems naive in the extreme. Nevertheless, that perhaps unrealistic initial inspiration laid much of the groundwork for the book you are now reading.

Although John Duffield came up with the initial idea and elaborated a clear vision for the volume, he immediately reached out to Peter Dombrowski, whom he knew could bring a wealth of relevant knowledge and experience to the project. Together, we developed a chapter outline that is very similar to the one contained in this book and began to contact potential contributors, several of whom are represented in these pages. For perhaps obvious reasons, however, it proved difficult to recruit a full complement of authors who would be willing and able to write chapters under such fluid circumstances and on such a short deadline. So we thanked those who had agreed to participate and moved on.

Then the idea returned at an opportune moment in the summer of 2007. John was able to take advantage of a meeting already scheduled with a representative of Stanford University Press to float the concept. This led to an exchange with Dr. Geoffrey R. H. Burn, the director and acquisitions editor of the press, who immediately took an interest in the project. The timing could not have been better. Despite his heavy responsibilities as chair of the Strategic Research Department at the Naval War College, Peter was once . . .

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