The Council on Foreign Relations recently asked the above question of some of its favorite commentators. One of the answers sent to this seat of the Eastern Liberal Establishment likely surprised whoever received it. Andrew Bacevich is a professor of International Relations at Boston University. He happens to be a fairly new member of the CFR. But he is also the father of an Iraq War victim; his U.S. Army lieutenant son perished during the fighting.
In his uninvited response to the query posed by the CFR, Professor Bacevich scoffed at the customarily cited benefit — the capture and death of Saddam Hussein. Then, without mentioning the loss of his son, he added:
[The] tally includes well over four thousand U.S. dead along with several tens of thousands wounded and otherwise bearing the scars of wars; the 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.... Seldom in the course of human history have so many sacrificed so dearly to achieve so little.
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Photo: U.S. servicemen fold the American flag after it was lowered during the handover ceremony of a military base in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, on Dec. 1, 2011: AP Images