The Iraq War -10th Anniversary: The Iraq War began when American- and British-led coalition forces invaded the country in March 2003 and officially ended in December 2011. Waged on false grounds, it was immensely costly in both lives—nearly 4,500 U.S. service personnel and at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians were killed—and treasure, with total U.S. costs estimated at upwards of $3 trillion. Ten years after the war’s start, we look back at some of its causes and events.
Some observers believe President George W. Bush took office in January 2001 already determined to wage war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Immediately after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Bush’s cohorts began suggesting (falsely) that Iraq was to blame. By his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush was sounding the alarm that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the world.
Over the next year the president and his advisers, consulting with the British government of Prime Minister Tony Blair, built their case for the forcible overthrow of Saddam’s regime: Iraq, they declared, was developing and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, in defiance of a U.N. resolution, and was secretly supporting Al Qaeda, the terrorist organization behind the 9/11 attacks. Neither claim would prove true. The invasion of Iraq began on March 19, 2003.
Saddam was indisputably evil, but Bush’s hostility toward him may have had oedipal roots. In 1991 his father, President George H.W. Bush, led an international coalition to evict Saddam’s army from Kuwait, which Iraq had illegally annexed, but decided it had no grounds to enter Iraq and depose Saddam. Did Bush II intend to prove he could accomplish what his father did not?