Professor Gause honored with Dean’s Lecture award

Associate professor of political science Gregory Gause received the fall 2007 Dean’s Lecture award, presented to professors who simultaneously excel in both their teaching and professional roles. Gause has been a UVM faculty member since 1995, focusing primarily on Middle Eastern studies. Before coming to UVM, he taught at Columbia University from 1987 to 1995. He earned a PH.D. in political science from Harvard University in 1987. The lecture was entitled “Causes and Consequences of the War in Iraq.” It centered on the reasons for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the ramifications in the follow-up to the war. The night began with an introduction from a student of Gause’s, Kirsten Leavitt, and a colluegue, Caroline Beer, who referred to Gause as a “world class scholar.” Gause’s lecture focused on four principal questions, including whether the war was planned before Sept. 11, the role of WMD and terrorism, and the role of democratization and American oil interests as a motivating factor for invasion. Gause alluded to the notion that a division existed within the Bush administration pertaining to the question of invading Iraq before Sept. 11. For example, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pushed for war while President Bush was reluctant, he said. Gause cited Sept. 11 as shifting Bush policy towards a perception of an “increased tolerance for risk” in foreign policy behind the “1 percent solution,” stating that if even a 1 percent chance exists of a terror attack it must be treated as certainty. WMD and alleged links between Saddam Hussein and Al -Qaida were described by Gause as part of a movement to build public support for the war effort. Mention was made of the Bush Doctrine, a policy that states that the U.S. will not allow any “hostile states to have WMDs” as paving the way for a potential invasion. Despite conflicting reports amongst the CIA and the U.S. Department of Energy as to the status of nuclear and other weapons in Iraq, these differences were “never reconciled before the war” due to a “burecreatic logroll,” Gause said. Democratizing the region was portrayed as an addition to the foreign policy agenda, as only “fundamental change” in regional politics could halt terrorism, because the core of the problem ran deeper. Gause wrote off the idea that the U.S. invaded Iraq purely for oil interests, while stating that no public evidence existed for an alternate theory claiming that the U.S. invaded for general American interests. He then proceeded to address the consequences of the Iraq war, stating that the war effort has not turned out well and brought unintended consequences including growing Iranian and Islamist influence, high oil prices and escalating sectarian tensions in the region. The potential of a war with Iran was also addressed by Gause, who said it was a “distinct possibility,” however it would be relegated to aerial strikes on nuclear facilities and not an Iraq-like invasion. The lecture ended with Gause noting that the Iraq war was poorly planned, resulting in additional unintended consequences than the inevitable few that occur in wartime.