The Iraq War: A Rational Mistake?

Why did the Iraq War happen?

Takeaway Points

  1. If fighting against nuclear weapons programs is a guessing game, then rational play dictates that a declining state will sometimes launch preventive war against a rising state that is not developing nuclear weapons.
  2. The outcome is accidental preventive war, which looks silly in retrospect but is perfectly rational given the strategic situation.
  3. This is one explanation for the Iraq War—though it assumes that the United States lacked sufficient military intelligence on the Iraqi program.