Audthor's note: Michael Mazarr is professor of national security strategy at the U.S. National War College in Washington, DC, and an adjunct professor in the security studies program at Georgetown University. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the policy or position of the U.S. Department of Defense or the National Defense University.
The Iraq War and Agenda Setting
Version of Record online: 11 DEC 2006
Foreign Policy Analysis
Volume 3, Issue 1, pages 1–23, January 2007
How to Cite
MAZARR, M. J. (2007), The Iraq War and Agenda Setting. Foreign Policy Analysis, 3: 1–23. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-8594.2007.00039.x
- Issue online: 11 DEC 2006
- Version of Record online: 11 DEC 2006
This essay takes concepts from early examples of a literature that is seldom used in foreign policy analysis—the literature on agenda setting in the U.S. government—and applies it to the case study of the U.S. decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. After a brief case history, the essay examines various core themes in the agenda-setting framework, and finds that concepts such as policy communities, focusing events, and policy windows can help explain the U.S. decision to go to war. The purpose of the essay is not to advance the current state of agenda-setting research, whose focus is usually not on explaining decision-making processes within the executive branch; the purpose, instead, is to revive an older framework of analysis from the agenda-setting field and demonstrate its utility in examining foreign policy behavior. The essay suggests that the agenda-setting literature could offer similar insights to many other examples of foreign policy decision making, and concludes by suggesting a handful of broader lessons of the agenda-setting paradigm for the analysis of national behavior.