The last American troops left Iraq yesterday. (Well, likely, the last combat troops. I’m sure there are still advisors there.) The Fox news article described it thusly:
The last U.S. soldiers rolled out of Iraq across the border into neighboring Kuwait at daybreak Sunday, whooping, fist bumping and hugging each other in a burst of joy and relief. Their convoy’s exit marked the end of a bitterly divisive war that raged for nearly nine years and left Iraq shattered, with troubling questions lingering over whether the Arab nation will remain a steadfast U.S. ally.
The mission cost nearly 4,500 American and well more than 100,000 Iraqi lives and $800 billion from the U.S. Treasury. The question of whether it was worth it all is yet unanswered.
I think the US ought to get a cut of oil profits for some predetermined amount of time to help repay us for liberating the country from a brutal dictator. But beyond the dollars-and-cents view of "worth it", recall we were instrumental from saving Germany (and most of Europe) from a brutal dictator 70 years ago at the cost of lives orders of magnitude greater than this. Hussein had invaded neighboring countries, used chemical weapons on his own people, and oppressed the Kurds, to name just a very few of his atrocities. Are Iraqis better off without him? You betcha’.
Should we go in and invade every country with a brutal dictator? I don’t think so, but the Middle East is a particularly important area to the global economy (i.e. oil) and is also one of the most volatile. What goes on there can make or break countries far and wide. Add to that Hussein’s view of our ally Israel (i.e. supporting terrorism there), and this combination was enough, I believe, to seriously consider dealing with it militarily. The US Congress thought so as well when they authorized the use of force (notwithstanding those mealy-mouthed Democrats who voted for it and later complained that they never thought they’d be taken seriously by Bush).
For those who lost family and friends in the war, indeed the cost for them is so different and felt stronger than for the rest of us pontificating from the sidelines. But at the same time, the "worth-it-ness" of the war in total has to come from a big picture view. I believe it was worth it, and I think most Iraqis, who’s opinion has to count for more than ours, would agree.
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