Securing the Insecure: Rethinking US-Iraq Relations (Marcellus Policy Analysis)

By Simeone Miller, Fall 2022 Marcellus Policy Fellow

U.S. security policy in Iraq has failed. It is a policy that has been defined by an inflated threat perception. While it was designed to prevent the further proliferation of Salafi-Jihadists in the country, it has done more to support their emergence and led to further local instability and conflict that threatens sustainable governance. It has failed because U.S. policy has yet to appropriately address the different stimuli for instability – corruption, climate security, and lack of economic opportunity – that enables Iranian interference, unrest, and foreign terrorist activity. As a result, it is time for a shift in the current policy status quo in Iraq.

To make lasting gains for regional security interests in Iraq, the U.S. should adopt a strategy centered on diplomacy and cooperation instead of military force. This would be a way to create an equitable balance between diplomatic and military capabilities that can play instrumental roles in stabilizing Iraq. Through multilateral diplomatic engagement with strategic partners, allies, and other relevant bodies, the U.S. can further implement broader reforms to its policies in the region. On the part of the U.S., these reforms should include changes in defense posture and corrections to existing imbalances in foreign assistance programs that must match current security assistance contributions.