A History of the Iraq Crisis: France, the United States, and Iraq, 1991–2003
In March 2003, the United States and Great Britain invaded Iraq to put an end to the regime of Saddam Hussein, their bête noire since the 1991 Gulf War. The war was launched without a UN mandate and was based on the erroneous claim that Iraq had retained weapons of mass destruction. France, under President Jacques Chirac and Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, spectacularly opposed the US and British invasion, leading a global coalition against the war that also included Germany and Russia. The diplomatic crisis leading up to the war shook both French and American perceptions of each other, and revealed tensions in the transatlantic relationship that had been building since the end of the Cold War more than a decade before.
Based on exclusive French archival sources and numerous interviews with former officials in both countries, Frédéric Bozo retraces the history of the international crisis that culminated in the 2003 Iraq conflict. It shows how and why the Iraq crisis led to a confrontation between two long-time allies of an intensity unprecedented since the time of Charles de Gaulle, and to deep divisions within Europe, the Atlantic alliance, and the international community as a whole. The Franco-American narrative provides a unique prism through which the US road to war can be better understood.
Frédéric Bozo is a professor in the Department of European Studies at the University of Paris III—Sorbonne Nouvelle. He is the author of Mitterrand, the End of the Cold War, and German Unification (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2009), among other works, and was a public policy scholar at the Wilson Center in 2010–11.