Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Professor Lisa Koch

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(c)2018 Shawn M McFall


This thesis explores how the United States identified Iraq as a threat to its national interest from 1990 to 1998. The international relations literature is heavily skewed toward exploring the question of why states engage in conflict and neglecting how a country identifies a threat. Therefore, this thesis focuses on the threat identification policy process. This thesis examines two security moves – the Gulf War and the Iraq Liberation Act – and uses primary documents to reveal how the foreign policy apparatus concluded that Iraq was a threat. Through the two cases, I found that foreign policy decisions were made on an ad-hoc basis and government officials were much more likely to inflate the Iraqi threat. Future international relation scholars can use my thesis as a guideline when constructing studies on the threat identification process.