The Iraq war was launched on March 19, 2003, with a strike against a location where Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and top lieutenants were believed to be meeting. Although some resistance was encountered after U.S. troops entered Iraq, all major Iraqi population centers had been brought under U.S. control by April 14. Analysts and officials are concerned about the risk of instability and ethnic fragmentation in Iraq after the war. U.S. plans for post-war governance of Iraq are just starting to be implemented, and the role of the United Nations in administering, if any, Iraq is still under debate. Whether the overthrow of Iraq President Saddam Hussein will lead to democratization in Iraq and the wider Middle East, or promote instability and an intensification of anti-U.S. attitudes, is also an issue in debate. The Iraq war has created concerns over the humanitarian situation, particularly in Baghdad and other cities affected by the war. International legal issues remain, however, with respect to launching a pre-emptive war against Iraq and the prospective occupation. This CRS report summarizes the current situation and U.S. policy with respect to the confrontation with Iraq, and reviews a number of war-related issues.
CRS Report for Congress, RL31715