Iraq: A decade later

4:55 PM, Mar 19, 2013   |    comments
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (NBC NEWS) -- Tuesday marked the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the start of a war that still divides our nation.

President Obama pulled the final U.S. forces out, but the war is still taking its toll on veterans and their families, our federal finances and on Iraqis.

A wave of bombings in Baghdad marked the tenth anniversary.

Dozens died.

Before the first U.S. bombs fell ten years ago President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell made the case that Saddam Hussein was set use weapons of mass destruction.

The U.S. invasion was easy, but the occupation and reconstruction was not.

2003 to 2008 was a nightmare of roadside bombs and civil war, a hard lesson.

"If you go in and destroy a government and dismantle its army, you are responsible, at least for a while. And we went into Iraq without a real plan for how to stabilize the place afterwards," notes Brookings Institution Defense and Foreign Policy Analyst Michael O'Hanlon.

100,000 Iraqis died.

Nearly 4,500 Americans lost their lives.

Many tens of thousands more suffered permanent physical and emotional injuries.

Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, a chopper pilot, lost both legs.

She said Tuesday the war's not over for vets like her.

"We will be taking care of these men and women for the next 60 years," Duckworth said..

53% of Americans now feel it was a U.S. mistake to send troops to Iraq, although some still defend the decision.

"Saddam was in fact an extremely dangerous guy," argues war planner Douglas Feith.

Meanwhile, the debate rages on over whether the war made america more or less safe in the wake of 9/11.

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