Editor's Note: Andrew J. Bacevich is Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University. This post is one of four from the Council on Foreign Relations in response to the question, Was the Iraq War worth it?
By Andrew Bacevich
As framed, the question invites a sober comparison of benefits and costs - gain vs. pain. The principal benefit derived from the Iraq War is easily identified: as the war's defenders insist with monotonous regularity, the world is indeed a better place without Saddam Hussein. Point taken.
Yet few of those defenders have demonstrated the moral courage - or is it simple decency - to consider who paid and what was lost in securing Saddam's removal. That tally includes well over four thousand U.S. dead along with several tens of thousands wounded and otherwise bearing the scars of war; vastly larger numbers of Iraqi civilians killed, maimed, and displaced; and at least a trillion dollars expended - probably several times that by the time the last bill comes due decades from now. Recalling that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to al-Qaeda both turned out to be all but non-existent, a Churchillian verdict on the war might read thusly: Seldom in the course of human history have so many sacrificed so dearly to achieve so little. FULL POST