The Invasion of Iraq
On 11/8/2002, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1441, which required Iraq to destroy all of its weapons of mass destruction and to cooperate with weapons inspectors searching for these weapons. [Text of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441] The Iraqi government claimed to have already destroyed these weapons. Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix searched but found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and Chief I.A.E.A. Weapons Inspector Mohamed ElBaradei searched but found no evidence that Iraq had resumed its nuclear program. The U.S. claimed to have knowledge of the location of these weapons, but the weapons inspectors searched the alleged locations and found nothing.
On 3/3/2003, the U.S., the U.K., and Spain introduced a resolution asserting that Iraq was in material breach of Resolution 1441. It proposed to authorize use of force if Iraq failed to prove disarmament by 3/17/2003. France, Russia, Germany, China, and Syria indicated that they would oppose this resolution and any authorization of force. They proposed to continue weapons inspections and to use U.N. peacekeepers to aid the inspectors. (France and Russia also threatened to veto any authorization of force.) Failing to gain the support of a majority of the Security Council, the resolution was withdrawn on 3/17/2003.
On 3/17/2003, President Bush declared his intent to invade Iraq in 48 hours. Following this, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan ordered weapons inspectors to leave Iraq. On 3/20/2003, U.S. forces began an aerial assault, targeting leadership compounds in Baghdad in an attempt to kill Saddam Hussein. U.S. and U.K. forces also began a ground invasion of Iraq. Iraq resisted, using guerrilla war tactics, shooting missiles at Kuwait, and torching some of its oil fields. The U.S. and the U.K. claimed that more than 44 countries supported this war, but only Australia and the Iraqi Kurds sent military forces.
Muslim "holy warriors" from other Arab countries aided Iraq, answering the call to "Jihad." Civilians were used as human shields and were unintended victims of military attacks. Burning oil caused environmental damage to the entire region.
By 4/11/2003, the Iraqi government had collapsed, the leadership had disappeared, much of the military surrendered or was defeated, and most of the country was under Coalition control. However, sporadic fighting continued throughout the country, developing into an insurgency.
Coalition forces failed to keep civil order in areas under their control. "Liberation" brought anarchy, including ethnic violence, destruction of property, and mass looting. Even nuclear sites, hospitals, antiquities museums, and archeological sites were looted. Civilians also suffered from lack of food, water, and medical care.
Despite it being the claimed basis for the invasion, no weapons of mass destruction have ever been used or found. This war against Iraq without U.N. Security Council authorization and made in "anticipatory self defense" was not justified under international law and sets a dangerous precedent undermining international law and security.
Though Coalition forces continue to fight the insurgency in Iraq, and the war has evolved into a civil war between religious groups, Iraqi sovereignty has been returned to Iraqis. Civil governing authority was initially vested in an Iraqi Governing Council on 7/13/2003. An Interim Constitution was adopted by this council on 5/8/2004, and an Iraqi Interim Government was vested with full sovereignty on 6/30/2004. An Iraqi Transitional Government was elected on 1/30/2005. A permanent constitution was adopted on 10/15/2005, and an Iraqi government was elected pursuant to that constitution on 12/15/2005.