Difficult as it may seem to believe, it was March 19, 2003 (March 20 in Iraq's time zone) that the United States launched an all-out assault on Saddam Hussein's Iraq for a second time. The first time around had gone swimmingly, but when the smoke had settled Saddam Hussein was still in control of Iraq. We did not make the same mistake twice.
The actual invasion of Iraq and removal of Saddam Hussein from power lasted only about a month-and-a-half; it was all over by early May. The cost was a relatively low 140 American servicemembers killed. Little did the American people realize that successfully invading Iraq would be the easy part. As usual, winning the peace turned out to be exponentially more difficult than winning the peace.
The United States would continue to conduct combat operations in Iraq until the middle of 2011. When all was said and done, the total casualties for the United States in Iraq was just under 4,500 killed and just over 32,000 wounded. I'm sure you have seen some of the more gravely wounded who will spend the rest of their lives missing some of their limbs, their brain power, or some cases, their sanity.
The natural question many are asking was if it was worth it to invade Iraq. Just today, Barack Obama's slimy little press secretary, Jay Carney, had no choice but to give credit to George W. Bush for removing Saddam Hussein from power after being pressed on the issue by a reporter. But what if Saddam Hussein was still in power today? With all the craziness in the Middle East and North Africa, what with Iran, Libya, Egypt, Syria, and the never-ending showdown between the Palestinian Arabs and the Israelis, would Saddam's Iraq really matter all that much?
I believe that perhaps we should have not gone into Iraq at all, or at least left after Saddam Hussein was removed from power. Just like we should have gotten the hell out of Afghanistan as soon as we removed the Taliban from power. The United States has always been very good at winning wars, but our record on nation building is spotty at best.
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson