Instead of the expected quick victory and creation of the stable democracy, the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003 turned into a long-term, debilitating, and costly war. In fact, there can be noted rough international policy mistakes. As a result, the Republicans suffered from the humiliating defeat in the 2008 presidential election campaign. George W. Bush who started his presidency from the approximately 80 percent level of popularity in the fall of 2001 finished his presidency at the level of 28 percent of support among the US population. Taking into account the role of the American invasion of Iraq in the world’s history, the following paper is aimed at providing the overview of the American invasion of Iraq from the perspective of an outside observer. The paper will discuss key events of the invasion as well as analyze the Iraqi decision for independence.
The General Overview of the American Invasion of Iraq
The notion of the American invasion of Iraq implies the military action campaign of the US and allied countries against Iraq launched in 2003 to overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein. In fact, it became the initial phase in the protracted Iraq war of 2003-2011. The campaign began on March 20. The operation was conducted on the basis of 678 and 1441 UN Security Council resolutions without implementation of further UN sanctions (Ricks, 2006).
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The connection of the Iraq governmental regime with international terrorism, in particular with the Al-Qaeda movement, as well as search for the weapons of mass destruction became official reasons for the outbreak of hostilities. However, there has also been expressed an opinion that one of the goals of the invasion was related to the US desire to gain control over Iraqi oil.
On the eve of the invasion, the official US position stated that Iraq had violated basic provisions of 1441 UN Security Council Resolution and had developed weapons of mass destruction. Based on the abovementioned, it was claimed that Iraq should be disarmed with force. The US planed to hold a vote in the Security Council based on the relevant resolution, but being abandoned by Russia, China, and France, it became clear that any resolution containing an ultimatum to allow the usage of force against Iraq would be vetoed. Ignoring this fact, the United States launched the military operation in the early morning on March 20, 2003 (Phillips, 2009).
The troops of the allied coalition seized control of the country’s major cities with small losses in just 21-day period, encountering serious resistance only in a few places. According to official data of the anti-Iraq coalition military command forces published in the press immediately after the military operation in Iraq, 156 soldiers of the coalition forces were killed. In addition, the coalition forces lost 5 aircrafts and 8 helicopters, while 5 more helicopters were damaged.
Being armed with the outdated equipment, the Iraqi army was not able to resist to well-equipped American and British troops. The huge role in the war was played by aviation. The US planes dominated in the Iraqi sky, speeding up the movement of troops to Baghdad and helping to reduce losses among the coalition troops. The Iraqi army was in chaos. Its commanders either fled or handed over to the coalition forces. Most of the personnel left their positions and gave up without a fight. Thus, the numerical superiority allowed the coalition forces to defeat the Iraqi army within 3 weeks. In particular, the Iraqi forces lost 847 tanks and 777 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles (Kahl, 2008). Nevertheless, although the Iraqi nuclear and chemical weapons had been one of the main reasons for the start of the military operations and invasion of Iraq, the data proved to be untrue. There was found no evidence of the existence of the nuclear program in Iraq.
Iraq after the US Invasion
After the rapid overthrow of Saddam Hussein, processes that began in Iraq absolutely did not correspond to the pre-war concepts of the American leadership. The White House believed that main problems would be related to large flows of refugees and possible famine. In fact, the whole Iraqi state collapsed, which became the complete surprise for the US authorities.
The US-Iraqi Together Forward operation did not comply in its results with the set expectations. The level of violence in the capital remained high and the appearance of additional US units, which had arrived from other parts of the country, on the streets only increased losses among US forces due to attacks of snipers and the use of improvised explosive devices.
Thus, on January 10, 2007, George W. Bush unveiled a new US strategy in Iraq, which became known informally as ‘The New Way Forward’ or ‘The Surge’. In his speech to the nation, the President acknowledged previously made mistakes on the Iraqi issue and noted that the main causes of the previous failure was the lack of troops and the lack of freedom relating to actions of the American command. The new strategy implied sending to Iraq additional 21.5 thousand of US soldiers to strengthen measures, protect the border, and maintain security. The main efforts of the Surge were focused on the suppression of the inter-religious conflict in Baghdad. However, effectiveness of the Surge became contradictory. According to the Iraqi police, during the two months of the operation in Baghdad, the rate of killed civilians decreased to 1,586 persons as compared with 2,871 persons within the previous two-month period. In addition, there was noted 80% reduction in the number of kidnappings and murders. However, such results were achieved at the cost of the loss of 21% of the US troops (Wright, 2007).
After coming to power in Iraq, the Shiite political forces markedly exacerbated relations between the Iraqis belonging to two different branches of Islam. Although the Sunnis belong to the minority, they have traditionally made up the bulk of the country’s political elite. Thus, the Sunni community was characterized by growing fears that the Shiites and Kurds could try to proclaim their own sovereign state on the territory of Iraq.
The peak of interreligious clashes occurred in 2006, making them similar to the civil war. The international coalition forces managed to normalize the situation. The final withdrawal of the coalition troops from the country took place in 2011. However, since that time the new wave of inter-religious clashes has been ongoing. The greatest role is played by the radical group called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant defined as the new Middle Eastern branch of Al-Qaeda (Williams, 2011).
The inability of the current Iraqi government to do something effectively and stop the advance of insurgents is quite obvious, but still surprising. It has about 693,000 security and armed forces personnel as compared to 15,000 militants from radical groups (Williams, 2011). However, it should be mentioned that the ranks of militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant include former soldiers of the Iraqi army of the Saddam Hussein’s regime. Previously noted circumstances connected with the support of the local Sunni population as well as dissatisfaction with the dominance of Shiites in the government play to a certain extent in favor of the radicals.
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The Decision of Independence and Conclusion
The decision of the Iraqi independence is based on the struggle between internal and external parties for the Iraqi oil resources. The key issue for the efficient development of Iraq is closely related to the stability in the country. The struggling forces are willing to divide Iraq into several warring independent countries, each of which will be dependent on the United States in one or another way. The argument that the US needs stability in Iraq cannot be completely trustful as even under the conditions of instability the oil production in Iraq amounted to almost 90% of the pre-war rate. In addition, the oil market has already recovered from the effects of the Iraqi influence the oil prices. A very important question concerns the possibility of Iraq’s division. This can happen only on the confessional-ethnic basis so that instead of one country of Iraq there can emerge three independent states, i.e. Free Kurdistan in the North, Iraq Shiite in the South, and Sunni center of Iraq, while Baghdad will become a free city. However, in this situation the Sunnis will remain cut off from major oil fields, which will lead to increased conflict with Shiites and Kurds. However, as it has already been mentioned, Iraq is in a state of the civil war between Sunnis, who were the elite of society under Saddam Hussein, and Shiites, who are in power today.
Along with the abovementioned, it is obvious that in the coming years the US will experience the reduction of its influence in the Middle East. It will face not only the loss of economic, military, and political influence, but also the loss of credibility. The US actions in Iraq have caused the rise of anti-American and extremist movements in the Arab world. Thus, it can be assumed that in the near future Iraq will remain tense and unstable. It significantly depends on decisions that will come from the White House and success of their implementation, while the decision for independence is supposed to be the tool of the Iraqi government intended to preserve integrity and unity of the state.