Iraq War, also known as the Second Persian Gulf War, lasted from 2003 until 2011. The war was initiated by the U.S., with major support from the U.K. as well as minor support from certain other allies. The origin of Iraq War lies in Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 which resulted in Iraq’s defeat at the hands of U.S. and its allies but the defeat did not topple Saddam’s regime .
The conclusion of First Persian Gulf War was followed by economic sanctions by U.N. on Iraq, also due to its development of lethal weapons. After President Bill Clinton ordered bombing of certain military installations in Iraq, Iraq barred U.N. weapon inspectors from reentering the country. The tragedy of 9/11 along with lack of cooperation from Iraq allowed President Bush’s Administration to argue that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and its support for terrorist groups posed danger to American security and interests. Despite objection from allies such as Germany and France, U.S. invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003 after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein refused to comply with the U.S. ultimatum to leave Iraq .

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The defeat of Iraqi military was swift since they could not compete with the superior military technologies of U.S. and its allies. Even when the allied forces faced resistance, they were able to overcome it relatively quickly. The allied forces had taken control of Iraqi capital Baghdad by April 20, 2003. President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1, 2003, and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was finally captured on December 13, 2003 .

Defeating Iraqi military turned out to be an easy task for the allied forces but occupying the country and maintaining law and order proved to be much more challenging. U.S. had lost only 150 soldiers by May 1, 2003 but the number of casualties rose to 1,000 by November 2004 and 3,000 by early 2007. The price in terms of civilian loss of lives was much higher. It is estimated that more than 650,000 Iraqis lost their lives between the beginning of war and October 2006. Iraqi parliament approved U.S.-Iraqi agreement in November 2008 that set the stage for eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Newly-elected U.S. President Obama, who had previously opposed Iraq War as a U.S. Senator, confirmed him commitment to the withdrawal plan and all U.S. combat forces had withdrawn from Iraq by August 31, 2010 .

Iraq War is generally perceived as a failed undertaking by the majority of Americans and it is not hard to understand why, given the huge economic and social toll of the war. A 2014 survey by CBS News/New York Times found that only 18 percent of Americans thought at the time that Iraq War was worth the costs . It is estimated that U.S. lost 4,488 service members in Iraq War as well as 32,223 injured troops. The deaths directly attributed to war total 189,000, and don’t include indirect deaths as a result of war-related causes. Iraq War also claimed the lives of 150 journalists. The financial toll of Iraq War as of the fiscal year 2013 stood at $1.7 trillion, and the projected cost of interest payments attributed to war by 2053 is $7 trillion. The most unfortunate aspect of Iraq War is that the allied forces found not a single nuclear weapon of mass destruction .

Iraq War holds painful but valuable lessons. First of all, war is destructive even if it is waged for the right reasons. Second, the trajectory of war is almost impossible to predict so war is usually a long-term undertaking. Third, it is important to be sure of the facts because wars are not cheap, either in economic or social terms.

  • Dutton, Sarah, et al. Most Americans say Iraq war wasn’t worth the costs: Poll. 23 June 2014. 9 October 2017 .
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica. Iraq War 2003-2011. 9 October 2017 .
  • Kelley, Michael B. and Geoffrey Ingersoll. BY THE NUMBERS: The Staggering Cost Of The Iraq War. 20 March 2013. 9 October 2017 .