Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Studies

Committee Director

Jesse Richman

Committee Member

Marie Olson Lounsbery

Committee Member

Fran Hassencahl

Committee Member

Regina Karp


This dissertation explores U.S. actions in the military “Surge” in Iraq from 2007-2008. Focus is on the entwined utilization of coercive and attractive power or smart power as an enabler of success and change from prior U.S. strategies in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The analysis is based upon an extensive set of interviews with operational participants in the Surge from across the Executive Branch. Results show that smart power was an important element of the Surge and its use facilitated success, but that doing smart power was not a simple matter of achieving some mix of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ power, but rather effectively marshalling and combining attractive and coercive power resources to meet the problems at hand. The lessons learned during the Surge of developing the right “smart power” synergy of hard and soft power can be utilized in current or future counterinsurgency or “near war” environments the United States may find itself in around the world.

The key contributor to this work was the interviewees themselves, who patiently answered my questions regarding events that happened over a decade ago. The most fun part of this project was the hour (or two+!) spent doing live interviews with the people who actually made the Surge happen. Often and unsurprisingly these individuals have subsequently gone on to bigger things, so their graciousness in volunteering their time as well as providing names of other people who could contribute made “snowballing” possible. Thank you for providing me the opportunity to tell your story.