Why Did the US Invade Iraq? On March 20, 2003, the United States and its allies launched an invasion of Iraq, overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s government. Read on to find out why.
Why Did the US Invade Iraq?
The US claimed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and posed a global security risk. However, the majority of nations declined to back military intervention against Iraq.
During the Gulf War of 1990-1991, the US spearheaded a multinational coalition that expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
In response, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 687, which mandated Iraq to eliminate all its weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), including nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, as well as long-range ballistic missiles.
In 1998, Iraq halted its cooperation with UN weapons inspectors, prompting the US and UK to carry out airstrikes. Following the terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush’s administration began planning an invasion of Iraq.
President Bush asserted that Saddam Hussein was actively amassing and producing WMDs, and considered Iraq to be part of an international “axis of evil” along with Iran and North Korea. In October 2002, the US Congress authorized the use of military force against Iraq.
According to Dr. Leslie Vinjamuri, director of the US and Americas Programme at Chatham House, a foreign affairs think tank in London, “Many people in Washington believed that there was significant evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that it posed a genuine threat.”
In February 2003, then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell appealed to the UN Security Council to approve military action against Iraq, alleging that it violated previous resolutions due to its alleged WMD program.
However, Powell failed to convince the Council, as most of its members preferred allowing the UN and International Energy Agency inspectors, who had been deployed to Iraq in 2002, to continue their investigations for evidence of WMDs.
Despite this, the US made it clear that it would not wait for the inspectors’ findings and formed a “coalition of the willing” against Iraq.
Who Supported the War?
Out of the 30 countries forming the coalition, the UK, Australia, and Poland actively took part in the invasion.
The UK deployed 45,000 troops, Australia contributed 2,000 troops, and Poland dispatched 194 special forces members. The invasion was launched from Kuwait, which generously provided its territory as a launching point.
Spain and Italy extended diplomatic support to the US-led coalition. Additionally, several nations from Eastern Europe, collectively known as the “Vilnius Group,” expressed their belief that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and was in violation of UN resolutions.
What Allegations Did the US and UK Make Against Iraq?
In 2003, US Secretary of State Colin Powell informed the UN that Iraq possessed “mobile labs” capable of producing biological weapons. However, in 2004, he admitted that the evidence supporting this claim “appears not to be… that solid.”
The UK government publicly released an intelligence dossier stating that Iraq could prepare missiles within 45 minutes, which could potentially strike targets in the eastern Mediterranean.
Former Prime Minister of the UK, Tony Blair, emphatically declared that there was no doubt that Saddam Hussein was actively engaged in the production of weapons of mass destruction.
Both the US and the UK heavily relied on the testimonies of two Iraqi defectors – a chemical engineer named Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi and an intelligence officer named Maj Muhammad Harith. These individuals claimed to possess firsthand knowledge of Iraq’s WMD program.
However, it later emerged that both men confessed to fabricating their evidence, as they desired the intervention of the Allied forces to remove Saddam from power.
The events surrounding the invasion of Iraq serve as a reminder of the complexities and consequences of international relations.
It highlights the importance of thorough and unbiased evaluation of intelligence information, as well as the potential impact of personal motivations on the course of history.
The lessons learned from this chapter should encourage us to approach global issues with caution, critical thinking, and a commitment to seek truth and justice.