The 10th anniversary of the start of the U.S. war in Iraq is a muted affair with no official commemorations planned in either Washington or Baghdad. Instead, the anniversary continues to draw the same lingering questions of the past decade, namely was the war in Iraq worth fighting.
The fallout continued today, the 10th anniversary, with a wave of bombings that killed at least 59 people in Baghdad and injured 221 others, according to police. The war has also taken the lives of 4,488 U.S. service members and left more than 32,000 wounded.
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Any pessimism is in contrast to 2003, when military victories on the battlefield buoyed hopes that U.S. military forces might return home soon. But U.S. troops ended up staying for almost nine years as Iraq's security situation deteriorated into a civil war. In the end, the last U.S. combat troops did not leave Iraq until December 2011.
Within a few years of the invasion, Iraq spiraled into chaos, fueled by a growing insurgency and the increasingly deadly sectarian fighting between Sunnis and Shiites. Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians lost their lives, with some estimates as high as 100,000.
Although the level of violence is no longer what it was when the U.S. military was in Iraq, terrorist bombings are still a common occurrence in Iraq. It is believed that as many as 200 Iraqis died in violent attacks in February.
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And the divide between Sunnis and Shiites is reflected in the political stalemate generated by the increasingly authoritarian government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite.
But in 2003, the world's attention was focused on whether Saddam Hussein would give into U.S. and international pressure to give up the weapons of mass destruction he was believed to possess.
Within a year after the invasion, it became clear that Hussein's regime did not possess weapons of mass destruction. Congressional investigations determined that the Bush administration had made the decision to rid Iraq of the weapons based on a huge intelligence failure. Iraq had no such weapons. Hussein had disassembled his chemical and nuclear programs years before, but had kept even his own generals guessing about what his regime possessed.