Keep the War
U.S.-Iraq War, military action begun in 2003 with a
, then ruled by the
authoritarian regime of
. The invasion led to a protracted U.S. occupation of Iraq and the
birth of a guerrilla insurgency against the occupation. The resulting destabilization of Iraq also created
conditions for a civil war to break out between Iraq’s majority Shia Muslim population and its minority
Sunni Muslim population. In addition to attempting to quell the insurgency, U.S. forces also found
themselves trying to police the civil war. In 2007 the U.S. war in Iraq had lasted longer than U.S.
involvement in World War II (1939-1945). U.S. president
George W. Bush
had openly threatened war for
months prior to the U.S. invasion. Bush argued that in the aftermath of the
September 11 attacks
Hussein’s regime posed a grave threat to U.S. security and peace in the region because of its alleged pursuit
of weapons of mass destruction and links to international
. Subsequent disclosures by former high-
level officials within the Bush administration, however, revealed that Bush had been preparing for the use
of military force against Iraq almost as soon as he took office in January 2001. (A call for the ouster of
Hussein had been official U.S. policy ever since Congress passed, and President
Iraq Liberation Act in 1998, although passage of the act did not commit the United States to the use of
Bush launched the war with an invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003.
The previous day a U.S. air strike attempted but failed to assassinate Hussein.
U.S. and British forces (and smaller numbers of Australian and Polish soldiers) invaded Iraq from Kuwait.
They faced an Iraqi military of less than 400,000 troops, the backbone of which was ten armored and
These divisions were quickly devastated by U.S. air attacks.
Major combat engagements ended about three weeks later, after U.S. troops entered
, the capital of
Iraq, and toppled the Hussein regime.
The military campaign was short and one-sided, but hard fought.
In all, 138 U.S. service personnel were killed from the start of the war until President Bush declared an end
to major combat operations on May 1, 2003. Of these, 115 died in combat while the rest died due to traffic
accidents, drowning, illness, or other causes.
However, coalition forces continued to suffer casualties after May 1 as an urban guerrilla
resistance began to develop.
By late April 2003, a serious and persistent guerrilla struggle had been launched in
the Sunni Arab
heartland against the foreign military presence in the country.
Abetted by a U.S. decision to dissolve the Iraqi army and the U.S. failure to stop widespread looting, the
guerrilla movement grew in strength and popular support in the center-north of the country, making it
impossible for the United States to withdraw most of its troops in summer and fall of 2003, as the