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1-Minute Overview
Should the US have attacked Iraq?


About This Topic
On March 20, 2003, citing Saddam Hussein’s failure to adhere to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441, a US-led coalition of 49 countries launched a "shock and awe” invasion of Iraq. Within three weeks, the Iraqi government was overthrown and its military disbanded.

While the primary reason given for the invasion was to remove the threat of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), no such weapons were found. In the absence of WMDs, supporters of the war argued that regime change, spreading democracy in the region, and making the United States safer were the primary objectives.

Opponents of the war, before and after the invasion, argued that the US oil interests and a pre-existing motivation to topple Saddam were the real reasons for the attack.

After six years in Iraq, with the coalition reduced to five countries, the US has spent billions of dollars on the conflict and has lost over 4,000 American lives in the war. The US-Iraq ProCon.org website investigates both sides of the ongoing discussions and controversies surrounding the war in Iraq.
PRO US Attack on Iraq CON US Attack on Iraq
PRO: Some proponents argue that the US was justified in its attack on Iraq not only because the invasion helped liberate the country from the tyrannical Saddam Hussein, but also because the US homeland has not been attacked since the beginning of the conflict. They say that the billions of dollars spent in the conflict could be offset by utilizing money from the vast resources of oil in Iraq.

Proponents further assert that Iraqi sponsored terrorism in a post-September 11 world necessitated the attack. Additionally, although no WMDs were found, initial intelligence reports such as the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate warned of Iraqi possession of WMDs in violation of United Nations restrictions, actions that compelled preventive US military action. Proponents contend that removing Saddam Hussein has helped promote democracy in Iraq, and that coalition intervention has created a more stable Iraqi government, which has increased overall regional stability.

CON: Opponents argue that the US attack on Iraq was wrong form the beginning because the early claims of Iraq's WMDs and the Saddam - al-Qaeda link were inaccurate and known to be at least "weak" by members of the White House and the US intelligence agencies.

Some further assert that the true reason behind the invasion was for the US to take over Iraq's large oil resources. Opponents argue that the US action against Iraq was pre-emptive and a violation of international law. They contend that the costs of the war, in tens of thousands of US soldier and Iraqi civilian casualties and in billions of dollars, are not worth the price of action against Iraq. Some opponents state that the US conflict in Iraq has strengthened terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, and has made the US less safe. They argue that these disastrous consequences of the war could have been avoided by utilizing diplomacy and containment to create peace and stability in Iraq and in the Middle East region.