The rationale for the Iraq War (i.e. the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent hostilities) has been a contentious issue since the Bush administration began actively pressing for military intervention in Iraq in late 2001. The primary rationalization for the Iraq War was articulated by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress known as the Iraq Resolution.
The U.S. stated that the intent was to remove “a regime that developed and used weapons of mass destruction, that harbored and supported terrorists, committed outrageous human rights abuses, and defied the just demands of the United Nations and the world.” For the invasion of Iraq the rationale was “the United States relied on the authority of UN Security Council Resolutions 678 and 687 to use all necessary means to compel Iraq to comply with its international obligations”.
In the lead-up to the invasion, the U.S. and UK emphasized the argument that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction and that he thus presented a threat to his neighbors and to the world community. The U.S. stated “on November 8, 2002, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1441. All fifteen members of the Security Council agreed to give Iraq a final opportunity to comply with its obligations and disarm or face the serious consequences of failing to disarm. The resolution strengthened the mandate of the UN Monitoring and Verification Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), giving them authority to go anywhere, at any time and talk to anyone in order to verify Iraq’s disarmament.” Throughout late 2001, 2002, and early 2003, the Bush Administration worked to build a case for invading Iraq, culminating in then Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 2003 address to the Security Council. Shortly after the invasion, the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence agencies largely discredited evidence related to Iraqi weapons as well as links to Al-Qaeda, and at this point the Bush and Blair Administrations began to shift to secondary rationales for the war, such as the Saddam Hussein government’s human rights record and promoting democracy in Iraq. Opinion polls showed that people of nearly all countries opposed a war without UN mandate and that the view of the United States as a danger to world peace had significantly increased. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan described the war as illegal, saying in a September 2004 interview that it was “not in conformity with the Security Council.”
Accusations of faulty evidence and alleged shifting rationales became the focal point for critics of the war, who charge that the Bush Administration purposely fabricated evidence to justify an invasion that it had long planned to launch. The U.S. led the effort for “the redirection of former Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (weapons of mass destruction) scientists, technicians and engineers to civilian employment and discourage emigration of this community from Iraq.”
The United States officially declared its combat role in Iraq over on August 31, 2010, although several thousand troops remained in the country until all American troops were withdrawn from Iraq by December 2011; meanwhile American troops also engaged in combat with Iraqi insurgents. In June 2014, however, U.S. forces were reinstated in Iraq due to the escalation of instability in the region and as of June 2015, the number of American ground troops totaled to 3,550. Between December 2011 and June 2014, Department of Defense officials estimated that there were 200 to 300 personnel based at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.