Saturday, December 10, 2005

Is It Worth It?

Aaron m. segal asks the following:
The real question: is forcing stability on Iraq worth the lives of thousands of US soldiers and even more Iraqis and millions of tax dollars? Is it really victory of it costs this much?
Stability is not something that can be forced upon Iraq. It is a goal of the US to bring about stability in Iraq through democratic self-government, but ultimately Iraqis must be the ones to stabilize their own country. As long as a US presence is required to prevent Iraq from disintegrating into chaos and civil war, there is no stability.

Is in the war in Iraq worth it? From an Iraqi perspective, the answer I believe is "yes". The majority of Iraqis -- particularly the Kurds and Shi'ites -- are glad Saddam is gone and the Ba'athists out of power. They see the fight against the jihadists and insurgents as their fight for freedom. Under Saddam, the Iraqi people were brutally subjugated by a ruthless tyrant. Now, they have a chance for freedom, and they're willing to fight for it.

Is it worth it from an American perspective? Are the lives lost and treasure spent worth the gain? Here's what has been accomplished so far:
  • Removed a tyrant who started two wars, developed and used WMDs, and killed over a million people
  • Saudi Arabia is taking more forceful action against Al Qaeda, capturing or killing many of its leaders
  • Libya gave up a previously unknown WMD program as a result of Saddam's downfall
  • The Syrian military left Lebanon under US pressure
  • Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries are making moves, however small, towards democratic government
  • The jihadists are losing popularity among the very Muslims whose support they need to survive
Given what has been accomplished so far, I think the war is worth it, especially if it sparks the spread of democracy across the Middle East. If you ask the troops fighting in Iraq, many of them believe in their mission. I know personally men and women who have served in Iraq. Though none wanted to be away from their families, they believe they were fighting for a just and noble cause.

To those who have lost loved ones in this war, the question "Is it worth it?" has a bitter edge to it. And for some, such as Cindy Sheehan, the answer is a definite and grief-stricken "no". But not all see it that way.

I don't think our generation will come ever come to a consensus answer, as I am sure we will be debating this very question for many years to come. Even if after Iraq proves to be an overwhelming success, some will still say that we should not have invaded, that success was not worth the price we paid. In the end, the definitive answer to the question "Is it worth it?" will come, not from us, but from historians not yet born. And I suspect their answer will be "yes".

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