Detention as a Peacemaking Strategy: The 2007–08 Iraq Surge and US Detention Policy

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The surge in Iraq was one of the key foreign policy decisions of the past decade. Its success prompted a second surge into Afghanistan by a new president a few years later. The success of the Iraq surge has prompted work by
academics and policymakers alike. One factor of the success of the surge
that has been understudied by both academics and policymakers is the
role played by the detention of individuals and the changes in detention
policy that accompanied the surge. In this paper, I outline a brief informal
model of how an intervening state can use detention to help alleviate
some of the causes of intergroup conflict to increase the odds of successful
intervention. I then show how the changes in US detention policy during
the surge contributed to the success of the overall strategy. A key argument in this paper is that detention contributed to the success of the surge
even though it was not a primary or public aspect of the surge strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-294
Number of pages20
JournalForeign Policy Analysis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Foreign Policy
  • Security
  • Iraq
  • Detention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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