War in Iraq: Was It Worth It?

Our search (or, more precisely, our wild goose chase) for WMD in Iraq is finally over. No, we did not find what we were looking for, but White House press secretary Scott McClellan assured us in a recent briefing that we still have a few people poking around, and “if there are any other reports, obviously, of weapons of mass destruction, then people will follow up on those reports.”

What a relief! We can all relax now that our worst fears remain unconfirmed. The Bush administration isn’t worrying, so why should we? In fact, Osama bin Laden, the man that started it all, isn’t even considered a priority anymore. As you may recall, six months after Bush wanted bin Laden “dead or alive,” the president shrugged off questions about Osama’s whereabouts, saying, “I truly am not that concerned about him.”

The White House will certainly face strong criticism in the coming months, but it won’t be anything the neocon spin doctors can’t handle. We know they will never apologize for starting a war based on lies, so what excuse can we expect to hear? Mr. McClellan? “[Saddam] was systematically gaming the system to undermine the sanctions that were in place, so that once those sanctions were eliminated – which was something he was trying to do through the UN oil-for-food program – then he could begin his weapons programs once again.”

Let me get this straight: Saddam’s master plan was to eventually get the economic sanctions against his country lifted so he could then start thinking about reviving his defunct weapons program. That’s quite a different explanation than the one crammed down our throats two years ago.

The White House told us that immediate action was needed in order to deal with the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Secretary of State Colin Powell even went before the United Nations and made a strong case for war. He presented detailed documents, intelligence reports, and satellite photos that demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam was planning to use them.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld seemed just as convincing. When asked on national television about Iraq’s WMD, he said, “We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat.”

And let’s not forget that notorious British intelligence dossier and the documentation of Saddam’s plan to purchase “yellowcake” uranium from Niger. Both were touted by the Bush administration as undeniable proof of Saddam’s concealment of WMD.

We all know what happened. It turned out that the dossier, entitled “Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation,” was bogus, plagiarized from magazine articles and a graduate student’s thesis that was based on reports dating back to the first Gulf War. The “yellowcake” documents also proved to be phony, and U.S. intelligence … well, let’s just say the reports of Saddam’s threat were greatly exaggerated.

When we consider the cost of the war in Iraq – 20,000 American casualties, over 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians, and hundreds of billions of dollars – we have to ask ourselves: Was it worth it? In our rush to conquer a nation that posed no threat to the United States, was it worth creating a new terrorist breeding ground and fueling anti-American sentiment across the globe? Now that the search for WMD has proven to be fruitless, was it worth all the death and destruction to confirm what many of us had been saying from the beginning?

Over the last two years, lie after lie has been exposed, and yet not one word of apology from Washington. Instead, the Bush administration is trying desperately to convince us that we are somehow better off than we were before the war.

Now that the war threatens to spill over into Syria, Americans should be concerned that we may not even have time to reflect on what we’ve done. And in failing to learn from recent history, we may be doomed to repeat it sooner than we think.