January 2002 to July 2003
Iraq War Timeline
January 2002 to July 2003
To understand the U.S. invasion of Iraq, one need only study our country's National Security Strategy, released in September 2002. This doctrine articulates the Bush administration's radical shift in priorities and goals, embracing militarism and unilateral preemptive military strikes to answer threats to U.S. interests. It undermines the foundations of international law, arms reduction treaties, and diplomacy in the post-World War II era. It states that the United States will never allow its military supremacy to be challenged, as it was during the Cold War.
A reliance on military force narrows alternatives. It reduces the opportunity for creative diplomacy and encourages violence. It prevents cooperative agreements that might limit military actions, including nonproliferation treaties and efforts to hold national leaders accountable through the International Criminal Court. It creates a hunger for “new” and “improved” weapons systems to be used in every conceivable situation.
This new policy creates an atmosphere of threats and intimidation that encourages other countries to pursue military solutions. The inability of the U.S. occupying army to restore safety in Iraq and ensure basic human needs is the result of a policy that neglects to address the conditions of poverty, injustice, and oppression that lead to violence.
The cost of this war is in more than dollars. It is being paid in loss of civil liberties, weakened democratic institutions, increased economic dependence on the weapons trade at home, and expanded militarization in countries all over the world.
Jan. 29, 2002- In Pres. George W. Bush's State of the Union speech, he identifies Iraq , along with Iran and North Korea , as an “axis of evil.” He vows that the United States “will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.”
April 20, 2002- “Stop the War at Home and Abroad,” a coordinated protest of all major coalitions against the broad and destructive war in Afghanistan , draws 75,000 to 120,000 in Washington , D.C.
May 14, 2002- The UN Security Council revamps the 11-year-old sanctions against Iraq , introducing a new set of procedures for processing contracts for humanitarian supplies and equipment. At this time, the United States is preventing $5 billion of material from entering Iraq through “holds” by the sanctions committee.
Sept. 12, 2002- President Bush addresses the opening of the UN General Assembly, challenging the body to confront the “grave and gathering danger” of Iraq — or become irrelevant.
Sept. 17, 2002- President Bush releases his administration's National Security Strategy, outlining a more militarized policy relying on first strikes. It says the United States will exploit its military and economic power to encourage “free and open societies.” It emphasizes that the United States will never allow its military supremacy to be challenged, as it was during the Cold War.
Oct. 10, 2002- Congress adopts a joint resolution authorizing use of force against Iraq and gives the president authority to take preemptive, unilateral military action against Iraq , when and how he deems necessary. The bill is opposed by 133 representatives and 23 senators.
Nov. 8, 2002- The UN Security Council unanimously approves Resolution 1441, imposing tough new arms inspections on Iraq and precise, unambiguous definitions of what constitutes a “material breach.” Should Iraq violate the resolution, it faces “serious consequences,” which the Security Council would determine.
Nov. 27, 2002- Weapons inspections resume in Iraq under supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency and UN experts.
Dec. 7, 2002- Iraq submits a 12,000-page declaration on its chemical, biological, and nuclear activities, claiming it has no banned weapons.
Dec. 10, 2002- International Human Rights Day, commemorated by more than 150 U.S. cities with action, rallies, and vigils opposing war against Iraq. One theme is, “Let the inspectors work.”
Dec. 21, 2002- President Bush approves the deployment of U.S. troops to the Gulf region. It is estimated that by March, 200,000 troops will be stationed there. British and Australian troops will join them in the coming months.
Jan. 27, 2003- The UN Weapons Inspectors' formal report on Iraq is critical, though not damning. Chief UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix states, “ Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it.”
Jan. 27, 2003- Bush receives a letter signed by 130 members of the House of Representatives, urging him to “let the inspectors work.”
Jan. 28, 2003- In his state of the union address, President Bush states Saddam Hussein “is not disarming. To the contrary, he is deceiving.” He goes on to claim that the Iraqi leader “has shown utter contempt for the United Nations and the opinion of the world.” He announces he is ready to attack Iraq , even without a UN mandate.
Feb. 14, 2003- In a report to the UN, Hans Blix indicates progress has been made in Iraq's cooperation. Both pro-war and anti-war nations feel the report supports their point of view.
Feb. 15, 2003- “The World Says No to War,” with massive peace demonstrations around the world, is the largest coordinated day of protest in world history, with more than 600 cities participating.
Feb. 22, 2003- Hans Blix orders Iraq to destroy its Al Samoud 2 missiles by March 1 because the UN inspectors have determined the missiles have an illegal range limit.
Feb. 24, 2003- The United States , Great Britain , and Spain submit a proposed resolution to the UN Security Council stating, “ Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in Resolution 1441.” The resolution concludes it is time to authorize use of military force. France , Germany , and Russia submit an informal counter-resolution, stating that inspections should be intensified and extended to ensure there is “a real chance for the peaceful settlement of this crisis” and that “the military option should only be a last resort.”
March 1, 2003- Iraq begins destroying its Al Samoud missiles.
March 7, 2003- Hans Blix reports Iraq has accelerated its cooperation, but inspectors need more time to verify Iraq's compliance.
March 12, 2003- New York City passes a city council resolution opposing a preemptive/unilateral war against Iraq , joining more than 150 other U.S. cities, including Philadelphia , Chicago , and Los Angeles. “We, of all cities, must uphold the preciousness and sanctity of human life,” says Councilman Alan Gerson, a Democrat whose district includes the World Trade Center site, where 2,792 people were killed on Sept. 11, 2001.
Feb. 24–March 14, 2003- The United States and Great Britain's intense lobbying efforts among UN Security Council members yields support only from Spain and Bulgaria. Since nine votes (and no vetoes from the five permanent members) out of fifteen are required for the resolution's passage, the United States decides not to call for a vote on the resolution.
March 17, 2003- Great Britain's ambassador to the UN says the diplomatic process on Iraq has ended. Arms inspectors evacuate. Pres. George W. Bush gives Saddam Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war.
March 19, 2003- Invasion of Iraq begins when the United States launches Operation Iraqi Freedom. Called a “decapitation attack,” the initial air strike of the war targets Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders in Baghdad , with unclear results.
March 20, 2003- The United States launches a second round of air strikes against Baghdad , and ground troops enter the country for the first time, crossing into southern Iraq from Kuwait. Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claims the initial phase of the war is mild compared to what is to come. “What will follow will not be a repeat of any other conflict. It will be of a force and a scope and a scale that has been beyond what we have seen before.”
March 21, 2003- The major phase of the war begins with heavy aerial attacks on Baghdad and other cities, publicized in advance by the Pentagon as an overwhelming barrage meant to instill “shock and awe.”
March 24, 2003- Troops march within sixty miles of Baghdad. They encounter much stronger resistance from Iraqi soldiers and paramilitary fighters along the way, particularly in towns such as Nassiriya and Basra.
April 9, 2003- The fall of Baghdad : U.S. forces advance into central Baghdad. In following days, Kurdish fighters and U.S. forces take control of the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul. There is widespread looting in the capital and other cities.
April 18, 2003- Tens of thousands march in Baghdad's largest protest since arrival of U.S. forces. Crowds pour out of mosques and into the streets after the first Friday prayers in a U.S.-controlled city, calling for an Islamic state to be established.
May 1, 2003- The United States declares an end to major combat operations.
May 12, 2003- A new civil administrator takes over in Iraq. Paul Bremer, a diplomat and former head of the counter-terrorism department at the U.S. State Department, replaces Jay Garner, who was seen as ineffective in stemming the continuing lawlessness and violence in Iraq.
May 19, 2003- Thousands of Shi'a and Sunni Muslims protest peacefully in Baghdad against the U.S. occupation.
May 22, 2003- The UN Security Council approves a resolution acknowledging U.S./UK as occupying powers in Iraq and lifts sanctions.
June 28, 2003- U.S. military commanders order a halt to local elections and self-rule in provincial cities and towns across Iraq. Handpicked mayors and administrators are installed, many of whom are former Iraqi military leaders.
July 9, 2003- In hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admits the cost of U.S. forces in Iraq tops $3.9 billion a month – double that previously reported and not including funds for reconstruction or relief. The hearings affirm that 140,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
July 13, 2003- Iraq's interim governing council, composed of 25 Iraqis appointed by U.S. and British officials, is inaugurated. The council has power to name ministers and will help draw up a new constitution for the country. The U.S. administrator, Paul Bremer, retains ultimate authority.
July 17, 2003- U.S. combat deaths in Iraq reach 147, the same number of soldiers who died from hostile fire in the first Gulf War. Of the total, 32 occurred after May 1, the officially declared end of combat.
Aug. 19, 2003- A truck bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad kills 20, critically wounds many more, and raises questions about the UN's future role in rebuilding Iraq. Among the dead is Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
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