When the administration of President George W. Bush planned the invasion of Iraq, hopes ran high that the massive deployment of troops and money wouldn’t just result in the toppling of Saddam Hussein: The United States would help create a country that stood as an example to others.
Ten years ago Tuesday, Bush announced military operations “to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.” He warned that the coalition campaign “could be longer and more difficult than some predict,” but vowed to give the Iraqis a “united, stable and free country.”
In a speech only weeks earlier, the president had stressed that “a liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions.”
In a televised statement to the nation, President George W. Bush announces “early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq.”
An estimated $61 billion in U.S. reconstruction funds later, reality has fallen short of these expectations.
An estimated 189,000 people — including Iraqi civilians, U.S. troops and journalists — were killed in the war in Iraq since 2003. The country is considered one of the most corrupt in the world, and many of the improvements promised have not materialized. Sectarian tensions regularly explode into open violence.
And yet Iraq is now OPEC’s second-largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia. It is headed toward becoming the world’s second-largest oil exporter after Russia in 20 years. The civil war that raged after the invasion is over, and elections have been held in which Iraqis vote at relatively high rates.Read story on NBCNews.com>