10 Years After the Invasion: Visualizing Key Details on the War in Iraq


On March 20, 2003 U.S. forces invaded Iraq under the false pretense that its government was harboring weapons of mass destruction. Intended to be a brief mission to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime and find the weapons, the Defense Department estimated the effort would cost about $60 billion.  Today, 10 years later, Iraq is still reeling from a prolonged conflict that, according to a recent study, has cost the U.S. more than $2 trillion (and growing) and brought a death toll of nearly 190,000 civilians, soldiers, journalists and aid workers.

While the U.S. occupation did lead to the overthrow of Hussein and the semblance of a fragile democracy, it also launched the country into a state of civil war, fueled by an ongoing period of political instability and intense sectarian violence. The U.S. occupation officially ended in December of 2011, but today the bloodshed continues on a nearly daily basis as large swaths of Iraq remain mired in conflict.

This collection of visualizations illustrates some of the war's cold hard facts, the big milestones, and the many layers of miscalculation and deception.

1. By the numbers: charting an expensive, bloody decade

This infographic, produced by The Guardian, details the high rate of fatalities and expenses associated with the Iraq War. Use the tool below to zoom in on details.

2. A chronology of war

Produced by the Council on Foreign Relations this timeline documents the major milestones of the War in Iraq, from the initial invasion on March 20, 2003 to the final exit of U.S. troops on Dec. 18, 2011.



3. Counting the fallen

Total deaths

A recently released report from Brown University's Costs of War project, estimates that close to 190,000 people have died in Iraq since the war effort began. That includes close to 4,500 U.S. troops and upwards of  134,000 Iraqi civilians (about 70 percent of all deaths).

Source: Costs of War project
Source: Costs of War project

Using data from Wikileaks, the Guardian in 2010 created this interactive map detailing every recorded death in Iraq between 2004 and 2009.

U.S. soldiers deaths

This interactive, produced by CNN, shows the nearly 4,500 fatalities of U.S. armed forces in Iraq, with details on each soldier's hometown and place of death in Iraq.

4. The tab

When the Iraq War began, the Defense Department anticipated that the effort would cost about $60 billion. While the U.S. price tag still remains a matter of speculation, even the most conservative estimates now place it at well over $1 trillion. The recent Brown University study estimates the current tab at around $2 trillion, and predicts it will eventually reach $6 trillion when accounting for residual expenses .

This animation, produced by Good Magazine - which places the current U.S. tab at a figure higher than most other estimates - details the elements that made the war so costly.

5. The spin and its deadly consequences

The U.S. invaded Iraq on the false stipulation that it had weapons of mass destruction. A mix of faulty intelligence and deception from the highest ranks of government resulted in an occupation that lasted longer than World War II. The first visualization below, by the Center for Public Integrity,  highlights the false statements made by the Bush administration in the run-up to the invasion. The subsequent interactive, produced by the left-leaning Mother Jones Magazine details the many layers of deception that led us into Iraq.

Center for Public Integrity