The Iraq war, also referred to as Operation Iraqi Freedom, is generally accepted to have begun in 2003, and continued through December of 2011. Most believe it was in retrospect to 9/11 events, but others aren't so sure.
There are several events that happened prior to 9/11 that are worth noting.
In August of 1990, the United Nations imposed sanctions against Iraq banning all trade and financial resources. Humanitarian efforts and medicine were still allowed. Originally this sanction was an attempt to get Iraq to leave Kuwait, pay for war costs, and to dispose of any weapons of mass destruction.
Because the sanctions affected food imports, medical supplies, and other needed items, many people in Iraq died. Chlorine was also banned because of its capability to be used as poisonous gas. This caused even more deaths due to people drinking unclean water. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of children died during this time. Many people have viewed this as a form of genocide.
The trans-Afghanistan pipeline began in the 1990's. This deal was negotiated with the Taliban. A theory is that support was given to the Taliban by the government to control Afghanistan and get the pipeline going. The Taliban controlled about 90% of Afghanistan. Part of the pipeline was bombed, and was blamed on Osama Bin Laden.
The events of 9/11 unfolded, and suddenly we were under terroristic attack on our own land. There are many conspiracies surrounding what happened that day, but I don't really want to go into that in this article. Bin Laden was also blamed for 9/11, and was placed on the FBI's most wanted list. He denied any involvement in the twin tower bombings, but later in 2004 admitted to being responsible for the event. For ten years he was the most sought after person in the 'war on terror'. In May 2011, U.S. navy seals found Osama in a private residence and shot him. His body was later buried at sea.
In December of 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured and tried under the Iraqi interim government. He was found guilty and sentenced to hanging, which was carried out on December 30, 2006.
2005 elections were held and a new constitution drafted.
Although Saddam was said to have held close ties with Al-Qaeda, very few were found hiding in Iraq.
Many believe the war with Iraq began simply due to oil. OPEC, or the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have been working toward using the euro as the oil currency standard. In order for the U.S. to stop this from happening they would need control of Iraq's oil reserves. If the dollar were to no longer be the oil currency standard, the American economy would take a huge hit. It is also worth noting that Iraq's oil reserve is believed to be the second largest world wide. Previous sanctions against the area did not allow companies access to the oil reserves.
One of the many strange coincidences is that the oil company Halliburton, who Dick Cheney was the former CEO, became the contractor for Iraq. Others claim documents prove that Bush decided to go to war in Iraq six months before 9/11 even happened.
After years of accusing Iraq of hiding weapons of mass destruction, which was one of the 'reasons' we went to war, the UN stated that no weapons of this nature were ever found. Claims that were provided before the war were retracted as false statements. Some believed that Saddam Hussein was not exactly honest about weapon capabilities because he did not want to seem weak to Iran.
Another popular theory is that the war began in order to liberate the people from an evil dictator. While I agree these people may have needed assistance my problem with this theory is that during this time, dictators in several other countries were committing horrible crimes against the population. Yet, we weren't at war with them.
Others claim the Iraq War was necessary to avoid World War III, and to surround Iran with democracy in hopes the people would rise against their leader.
Some people believe the war was an attempt to make money. Halliburton's estimated income from war related revenue was $17.2 billion. A DynCorp subsidiary made about $1.44 billion. Washington Group International averaged $931 million. Environmental Chemical made $878 million cleaning up Iraq and disposing of ammunition, broken weapons, etc. Fluor received $1.1 billion in contracts to build, service, and maintain water and sewer systems. Many other companies also reaped large profits by the millions and billions.
Stuart Bowen, an Inspector General for Iraq, reported $6.6 billion in cash was stolen. $1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, grenades, and other equipment was also reported missing.
The cost of sending one soldier to Iraq for one year of deployment is estimated at $390,000, and possibly their life.
Why we went to war is a touchy subject with most Americans, and for good reason. No matter how many people you ask you are likely to get very different answers. Most people were affected by either having been in the war themselves, related to or knew someone who went, or lost a loved one who never returned. Others won't even begin to fathom that the government in some way coerced the people into going along with a war for reasons unknown. Many do believe still that the war was important in order to win the fight against terror. Others sought retaliation for the deaths of the Americans who lost their lives during the tragic events of 9/11.
The war cost America over $800 billion, with more to come later with rising costs for veteran's health care and disabilities. Many veterans returned home to find no employment in the falling economy. 30% of troops developed mental health problems after returning home within three to four months.
Regardless of why we went to war, the cost was very high. Over 4,000 of our men and women lost their lives during the Iraq war, and more than 32,000 were wounded.