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Issue Guide: Iraq Invasion Ten Years After

Author: Andrea Palatnik
March 14, 2013


The tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq offers a milestone to reflect on the war's costs and consequences. In early 2013, the fragile government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki faced a number of challenges, including rising sectarian strife, a resurgent al-Qaeda, and spillover violence from the conflict in neighboring Syria. The following materials provide expert analysis and essential background on major issues surrounding the Iraq campaign.

CFR Interview: Iraq Invasion Ten Years Later: A Wrong War

The Bush administration's decision to wage war on Iraq in 2003 still looms large for its flaws and its damage to U.S. interests, says CFR President Richard Haass.

Foreign Affairs: Iraq in Retrospect

"Thanks to problems of both conception and execution, the Iraq war ended up becoming the most egregious American foreign policy failure since Vietnam," writes Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs. Here are some highlights of the magazine's coverage of the war over the last decade.

CFR Interview: Difficult Times Ahead for Iraq

"The coming year will not be an easy one for Iraq," says CFR's Meghan O'Sullivan. The government of Nuri al-Maliki, despite some security and economic gains, faces a number of challenges including strong opposition from Sunnis, Kurds, and fellow Shiites.

Foreign Affairs: The Iraq We Left Behind

The democratic project Washington had envisioned for Iraq is "rapidly fading away," in a country that now resembles "something close to a failed state," writes former CFR Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow Ned Parker.

CFR Expert Roundup: Was the Iraq War Worth It?

Four top experts--CFR's Max Boot, Andrew J. Bacevich, Michael Ignatieff and Michael O'Hanlon--debate whether the Iraq invasion and extended occupation merited the cost in blood, treasure, and U.S. credibility.

Economist: The Slow Road Back

"A decade after the American-led invasion, Iraq is a place of patchy progress and dysfunctional politics," writes the Economist. Among the many challenges, sectarian tensions are distracting the Maliki government from much-needed investments in infrastructure and driving away foreign money, especially in Baghdad.

Foreign Policy: The Iraq War That Might Have Been

Through an extensive audit of internal government documents, Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor shed light on a number of "lost opportunities that might have dramatically shortened the Americans' ordeal in Iraq or decisions whose full significance was not apparent until years later."

Project Syndicate: The Iraq War Ten Years Later

"Even if fortuitous events lead to a better Middle East in another ten years, future historians will criticize the way Bush made his decisions and distributed the risks and costs of his actions. It is one thing to guide people up a mountain; it is another to lead them to the edge of a cliff," writes Harvard University's Joseph S. Nye.

Foreign Affairs: The End of the Age of Petraeus

The U.S. approach to counterinsurgency, championed by General David Petraeus, helped produce stunning results in parts of Iraq and Afghanistan. In retrospect, however, the fuss over the doctrine seems overblown. It achieved mere tactical successes and only in combination with other, non-military factors, writes Fred Kaplan.

AP: Ten Years After U.S. Invasion, Kurds Look to the West

As the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan prospers and insulates itself from Sunni-Shia sectarian disputes, oil sales to Turkey and Western support raises hopes of independence, writes Karin Laub.

CFR Backgrounder: Al-Qaeda in Iraq

Sectarian divisions have boosted al-Qaeda in Iraq, a longstanding threat to the country's stability. This Backgrounder profiles the group and discusses its growing role in the unrest in neighboring Syria.


CFR: Iraq War Timeline

From the invasion in 2003 to the departure of the last U.S. troops in 2011, this chronology follows the milestones that shaped the conflict in Iraq.

Essential Documents

Learning From Iraq: Final Report from Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, March 2013

Poor planning, a failed strategy to engage Iraqis in their own country's reconstruction, and a rush to rebuild that didn't wait for the establishment of "sufficient security" are some of the main lessons to be learned from U.S. efforts in Iraq, says this special report to Congress.

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister al-Maliki, December 2011

President Barack Obama announces the end of the U.S. military intervention in Iraq in a joint press conference with the Iraqi prime minister in which both leaders "reaffirmed our common vision of a long-term partnership between our nations."

U.S. and Iraq and Strategic Framework Agreement, U.S. and Iraq, November 2008

The agreement between the United States and Iraq "sets the foundation for a long-term bilateral relationship between our two countries," said President George W. Bush.

Duelfer Report on WMD Search in Iraq, September 2004

This investigation by the Iraq Survey Group looks into the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, stating that no significant stockpiles of WMDs were found there after the U.S. invasion.

President Discusses Beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom

President Bush explains his strategy and reasons for invading Iraq in a radio address two days after the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Joint Resolution Authorizing Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq

With this resolution, the U.S. Congress authorized President Bush to go ahead with his plans of military intervention in Iraq.

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