Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program

Government and Legal Studies

First Advisor

Allen Springer


This thesis examines the forces shaping the United States’ decision to initiate the 2003 Iraq War. It argues that while the Bush administration had vested interests in disarming Iraq to eliminate Saddam Hussein’s military threat and to secure stable global oil supplies, the decision-making process leading to the Iraq War was heavily influenced by domestic politics, such as bureaucratic bargaining, CIA intelligence collections, and interest group competition. In addition, individual-level factors, such as top officials’ personal beliefs and psychologies, also shaped the decision to intervene in Iraq. By explaining how strategic, domestic, and personal factors interacted to shape the decision to launch the Iraq War, my study underscores the impact of less obvious micro-level dynamics on international politics and the multi-layered nature of foreign policymaking.