Overview of U.S. Intervention in Iraq

Iraq is a mideast country formed after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. The country consists of significant ethnic and religious divisons which have caused conflict throughout its history as a nation. In 1979 a strongman, Sadaam Hussein, emerged. His rule was characterized by rapid militarization which included efforts to gain disputed territory in Iran and Kuwait as well as subjugating the large Kurdish population in the country. His seizure of Kuwait in 1990 provoked a military response by the international community which restored Kuwait's autonomy.

Sadaam Hussein's suspected arsenal of nuclear and biological weapons together with his vocal support for Al Queda terrorism provoked a 2003 invasion by the United States which ended his rule. In the aftermath, the U.S. occupied Iraq during much of the following decade which was characterized by violence between the Sunni and Shii religious groups within the country as well as terrorist attacks directed at the U.S. occupying forces.

With the election of U.S. President Barack Obama in 2008, the U.S. started to end the occupation. But Iraq's internal divisions continued leading to the emergence of a radical Sunni group known as ISIS which in 2015 controlled much of western Iraq and portions of Syria. This insurgency was ultimately defeated by internal opponents with the assistance of the international community. Most recently Iraq has arrived at a measure of stability and its economy has begun to improve.

U.S. public opinion supported the military campaign to overthrow Sadaam Hussein in 2003 but most Americans now believe that the effort was not worth the cost or outcome.