A Tragic Timeline Of America's 33-Year Love Affair With Iraq

via WikimediaAmerica’s rocky relationship with Iraq didn’t start in 10 years ago with the beginning of the war that would eventually oust Saddam Hussein.

It didn’t even start in 1990, following Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.

In fact, It’s the two countries began their modern relationship some 33 year ago, becoming entangled due to a violently deposed Persian Monarch and Washington’s push to rein in an intransigent Iran.

Policy planners thought the key to maintaining control over the resource rich Middle East actually started with shaking Saddam’s hand.

Three decades later, it ended with huge destruction of life and property.

The modern story of Iraq and the U.S. doesn't begin in Iraq, but in Iran.


They were wrong. In 1979, the Shah was deposed by his own people.

The loss of Iran was a severe blow in the eyes of America's foreign policy planners, whose post-WWII strategy called for at least two allies in the Middle East.

Enter Saddam: Iran's Shia nationalism had spurred calls for a Shia revolution in Iraq against Saddam's ruling Sunni elite. Tensions between the nations were fraught.

By 1980, border skirmishes with Iran had turned into all-out war. Meanwhile, Saddam made time though to receive the key to the city of Detroit, and honorary city citizenship.

America sees its chance: despite widespread reports of Iraqi chemical weapons use, Reagan pulls Saddam off the list of known terrorists. The year is 1982.

In 1984, Donald Rumsfeld Meets with Saddam on the same day the New York Times reports Iraq using Mustard and Sarin gas on Iranians.

U.S. support consisted of massive loans, military equipment, dual use chemical technology and training, and satellite intelligence on Iranian troop movements.

Saddam was busy battling an Iran that was itself equipped with ageing U.S. military equipment.

Despite Reagan's insistence that Saddam win the war, it became clear by 1986 that Iran and Iraq were stuck in a costly stalemate.

By the time the war ended in 1988, Iraq owed at least $60 billion to the international community. That figure included debt owed to UK, US, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Kuwait.





He said in later interviews that there were ongoing talks with Kuwait, who admitted to taking over 2.5 billion barrels of oil.


U.S. troops successfully oust Saddam from Kuwait, but pulls up short of invading Baghdad.

Bill Clinton takes office in 1992 and in '94 extends crippling economic sanctions on Iraq — the U.N. says 5,000 Iraqi children die of starvation per month.


Two consecutive U.N. peace envoys, Hans Von Spok and Denis Halliday, resign over the effect sanctions had on citizens.

That same year, 1998, Bill Clinton signs the Iraqi liberation act — calling for instalment of a democratic regime — all but sealing Saddam's eventual fate.



2006 brings the height of the Iraqi insurgency — 100 explosive devices detonated per day. By mid-2007, Sunni milities calling themselves the Sons of Iraq have turned the tide of the war.

2011: Barack Obama fails to get a status of forces agreement passed, the government effectively kicks America out of Iraq.

Roughly 8 years of war have passed — exactly as Bush Senior expected — the war has cost 190,000 dead, more than 4,500 American service members, and a still unknown number of contractors.


In total, this war cost America $2.2 trillion, and possibly $6 trillion over the next 40 years. Furthermore, studies show the $60 billion reconstruction effort was largely wasted.


Exxon (and the Russian Lukoil) nailed down one of Iraq's largest oil fields in Qurna, while Halliburton and other American companies dominated development subcontracts. Oil investment is valued at $150 billion over the next decade.


Now that you know the whole story of Iraq ...

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