The war in Iraq was surrounded by controversy from before it even began. Government officials in the United States, Great Britain, and from around the world heard contradictory stories about the existence of weapons of mass destruction from the war’s earliest days. After the Gulf War, Iraq was forbidden by the United Nations to produce nuclear weapons, and the UN retained the right to inspect Iraq if there was just cause to believe that the country may be hiding dangerous materials in preparation for building these weapons.
In 1999, before the war in Iraq, controversy about whether or not Iraq had hidden materials to produce weapons of mass destruction existed around the world. To further complicate matters, U.S. intelligence agents supposedly went into Iraq, along with UN inspectors, and they had direct conversations with Iraqi security agencies. If this did occur, it was against the UN mandate that UN inspectors had the right to look for weapons, but this did not include any particular country, such as the U.S.
According to Hans Blix, the lead weapons inspector for the UN Security Council, Iraq was cooperative, and they remained unarmed. He informed the Security Council that he and his associates would be able to confirm the disarmament soon. Suspicions about the honesty of Iraq’s claim that they had no materials to make these weapons remained. Many people believed that Saddam Hussein had hidden the materials when he knew that the UN inspectors were coming to his country, and that he continued to move them around to avoid their discovery.
The war in Iraq officially began on March 20, 2003 when multinational forces, led by the U.S. under George W. Bush and United Kingdom troops under Tony Blair, invaded Iraq. The U.S. Senate voted in favor of the invasion, and many Americans supported the invasion for multiple reasons. The possibility of weapons of mass destruction threatened the security of the U.S., U.K., and their allies. In addition, the 9-11-2001 terrorist attack in New York City, as well as terrorist attacks around the world, led many people to believe that Saddam Hussein was an ally of al-Queda. He had provided financial support for Palestine families left behind by suicide bombers who had committed terrorist attacks against the Western world. Added to that was the fact that Saddam Hussein had committed many human rights abuses against the Kurds and his own people.
Opponents of the war in Iraq believe that George W. Bush manipulated circumstances to find a reason for the U.S. and the U.N. to invade Iraq. From before the war began, protestors around the world were against the war. Some believe that Bush wanted the oil in Iraq; others that he wanted revenge against Hussein from when his father, as president, led the Gulf War.
Saddam Hussein was captured, tried, found guilty of crimes against humanity, and hung. One of the high points of the war was when his huge statue, located in Baghdad, was pulled down by troops. In protest, Iraqis later erected a statue of George W. Bush, and pulled it down in the same fashion as a matter of protest. Over the seven years of the war, internal strife between the two groups, Shia and Sunni, escalated in the form of car bombings and other suicide missions.
The war in Iraq lasted seven years with active combat troops on Iraqi soil. The last U.S. troops left Iraq on August 19, 2010. By 2011, all foreign troops are to be out of Iraq, but there are still 50,000 U.S. troops remaining in Iraq. All U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by 2011.