France, Italy and the 2002/2003 Iraq crisis
Fenton, Anne Marie
Yost, David S.
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France opposed the US-led intervention in Iraq in March 2003 while Italy supported it. Domestic dynamics, including popular opinion and growing concern for Muslim sentiment, exerted a secondary influence on those decisions. Other factors that influenced the leaders of France and Italy to take opposing stances on the prospective intervention included security and threat assessments. Discord in US-French relations was exacerbated by disagreements over other international issues, especially the role of the UN Security Council. This thesis assesses the relative weight of these various factors in the French and Italian decisions, and examines the interplay of the key national decisions made by American, French and Italian leaders. The thesis concludes that French and Italian decisions were influenced by factors in addition to the issues in question-that is, whether the Iraqi regime had complied with the UN Security Council resolutions calling for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and certain delivery means and, if not, whether the use of force was an appropriate and justified course of action. It also concludes that the severe damage to US-French relations may be overcome as Paris and Washington cooperate in meeting international security responsibilities. The European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy may face greater challenges, owing to the significant intra-EU differences revealed during the Iraq crisis.
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