On March 19, 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, marking the beginning of a protracted war that lasted nine long years. Although the last American troops were brought home from Iraq at the end of 2011, the effects of our military intervention there will be felt for decades to come. In the end, the Iraq War came with a heavy toll: nearly 4,500 American lives lost with more than 32,000 wounded, almost 130,000 Iraqis killed with millions more displaced, and $1.7 trillion in taxpayer money.
When Congress first debated in the fall of 2002 the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq, I had serious concerns regarding the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the lack of a long-term strategy for the future of the country. That is why I could not, in good conscience, vote in favor of sending our troops to Iraq. I believed then, as I still do now, that the Bush administration chose to intervene for its own purposes rather than by necessity. Unfortunately, Congress failed to pass my alternative resolution, which would have required the Administration to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure cultural, economic, and political stability in a free Iraq.
On the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, I would like to once again thank our brave men and women in uniform for their service and sacrifice. As Congress continues to consider budget proposals and spending cuts, we must ensure that we invest our resources wisely. Protecting our national security and advancing our global interests are not mutually exclusive to supporting economic and social programs here at home that millions of Americans rely on. It is my sincere hope that the lessons we have learned from the Iraq War will guide us in the future, as well as help us foster greater peace and prosperity in the region as a whole.