Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Committee Chair

Robert S Crichlow

Committee Co-Chair

Robert Duval

Committee Member

James Friedberg

Committee Member

Joe Hagan

Committee Member

Patrick Hickey


This research asserts that the failures in reconstructing Iraq resulted from poor decision-making and policy implementation in 2003 by comparing those efforts to the successful rebuilding of Germany and Japan, post-World War II. The focus is on actions taken by the occupying force---the United States---within the first 12 months of the operation, with a five-year post-conflict examination to determine the result of those actions. While comparisons between Iraq and Germany or Iraq and Japan have been completed previously, they are often with the intent of proving why the reconstruction of Iraq did not succeed by highlighting the differences between the two nations at issue; however, when a three-nation cross-comparison is done, Iraq does not vary from the post-World War II nations as widely as is popularly believed. The current comparison is performed through an examination of three categories of factors, two of which have been previously examined at length by scholars. The categories are Contextual Factors, Hybrid Factors, and Instigated Factors. For each category, the U.S. had an increasing level of control over the situation on the ground. The Instigated Factors have not previously been subjected to a comparative analysis. This research closes the gap in previous works by illustrating what the U.S. knew, or should have known, in Iraq based on earlier reconstruction attempts; by highlighting the fact similar obstacles to those faced in Iraq were successfully overcome during prior efforts; and by identifying those factors most influential to the success of post-conflict reconstruction efforts.