The run-up to the 2003 Iraq war saw a jarring deterioration in transatlantic relations. Although neither the United States nor the European states had intended for the European Union to play a role in the Iraq conflict, the Union became embroiled in what would become the biggest crisis across the Atlantic since the end of the Cold War. During the run-up to the Iraq conflict, the Union played a central role as a focal point for European policy coordination. The Iraq crisis is of special relevance to the study of American influence on EU strategic culture because the disputes were over the cornerstones of the US and EU strategic outlooks. By 2003, the European Security and Defence Policy had undergone significant improvements in terms of capabilities and institutional frameworks as well as in terms of affiliation to NATO, but the crisis saw the consequences of the absence of an agreed strategic concept. At a time when many in Europe looked to the Union to provide foreign policy leadership, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) crumbled under American pressure and the competing national interests of the member states.