By Teresa Welsh |
On October 21, President Barack Obama announced that all American troops will leave Iraq by the end of 2011. The announcement signals the end of a war that has lasted almost nine years and claimed the lives of over 100,000 Iraqis and almost 5,000 Americans while dividing public opinion worldwide.
The seeds of the Iraq war began in the turbulent political wake left by the events of September 11. Citing intelligence that Saddam Hussein had and was trying to proliferate weapons of mass destruction, then-President George W. Bush and United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair escalated talks of military intervention to stop the dictator. The issue was debated around the country and the world, and in October 2002 Congress passed a resolution authorizing use of military force against Iraq.
The military invasion of Iraq began in March 2003 and officially lasted only until the end of April of that year. With the end of the invasion phase, the occupation--and the bloodiest days of the conflict--began. Insurgents, including al Qaeda operatives, began using guerrilla tactics to attack coalition forces, and persistent violence gripped the country even after the capture and hanging of Hussein in 2006.
Following the invasion, the U.S.-led Iraq Survey Group concluded that Iraq had discontinued its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons program in 1991. An infuriated American public, many of whom opposed the war even before these findings, have since argued that the war served only to destabilize the Middle East region and was thus a waste of American lives.
Was the Iraq war worth it? Here's the Debate Club's take:
Lawrence J. Korb Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress
Daniel J. Gallington Senior Policy and Program Adviser at the George C. Marshall Institute