Chris Featherstone

Why did the US and the UK decide to invade Iraq in 2003? A comparative Foreign Policy Analysis

Supervisors: Dr Asaf Siniver, and Dr Jamie Gaskarth

This thesis provides a comparative Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) framework to explain the reasons behind the US and the UK decisions to invade Iraq in 2003. It suggests that groupthink, leadership style, and analogical reasoning account for the degrees in convergence and divergences in the decision-making process in both countries. While international factors contributed to the decision, to truly understand how these two governments made it, it is necessary to examine the individuals who made the decision. This research uses a structured, focused comparison process tracing data analysis method to scrutinise this case, enabling a more comprehensive explanation of the case.

As such, this research contributes on a theoretical and empirical level. Theoretically, this research responds to the challenges laid down for FPA: to establish links between theoretical models, to compare national contexts, and to speak to policy practitioners. To make this contribution, this thesis shows the usefulness of the comparative FPA framework used to explain the parallels and deviations in decision-making processes in each country. Empirically, this research contributes a rich analysis of both decision-making processes that led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, using recently declassified documentary materials and interviews with decision-makers involved.


  • BA Politics (SHU), MSc Global Cooperation and Security (UoB)


Chris is a final year PhD student looking at the decision-making process that led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He uses FPA models to examine the US and UK decision-making processes that led to the 2003 invasion. 

Research interests

  • British Foreign Policy
  • US Foreign Policy
  • Foreign Policy Analysis

Teaching responsibilities

Throughout my PhD, Chris has taught a range of modules at a number of institutions. The modules include:

  • Introduction to International Relations
  • Understanding Brexit
  • The Politics and Policies of Brexit
  • Research Design (MA course)

Professional memberships

  • Political Studies Association
  • British International Studies Association

Conference papers

Conference Attendance

•International Studies Association Annual Conference, March 2020. Hawaii. (Accepted, prior to cancellation). Presentation: Foreign Policy Analysis and Cybersecurity: Bush, Obama and Stuxnet.

•Trump: Change and Continuity Workshop, June 2019. University of Liverpool. Presenter: The Plutocrat President: Low-Conceptual Complexity and Trump’s Foreign Policy.

•International Studies Association Annual Conference, March 2019. Toronto. Panellist: Foreign Policy Analysis and Cybersecurity: The Case of President George W Bush and Stuxnet.

•White Rose DTP Seminar Series, University of York, November 2018. Presentation: Groupthink in the Iraq War decision-making process.

•Political Studies Association Methods Conference 2017, University of Essex. Presenter: The Process Tracing Debate, Best Practice, and Advocating its wider use.

•Political Studies Association Methods Conference, January 2017. University of Essex.


  • Siniver, A. Featherstone, C. 2020. The Plutocrat President: Low-Conceptual Complexity and Trump’s Foreign Policy. Global Affairs.
  • Hassan, O. Featherstone, C. (Forthcoming). Trump’s low conceptual complexity leadership style and the vanishing ‘Unpredictability Doctrine’. Cambridge Review of International Affairs.
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