We are finishing up our look back on the Iraq War by attempting to answer the all important question of was the war worth it. As you might have been thinking that is a pretty tough question to answer and because of that I think the only real way to try to answer that is to take emotion out of the equation and try analyze the facts as best as possible. To accomplish this we need to not only look at this as Americans but also as Iraqis, and then again as Shia Iraqis, as Kurdish Iraqis, and finally as Sunni Iraqis because in the end it is their country. So to accomplish this I will try to weigh the pros and cons from each group.
The Shia Iraqis
Considering that the Shia Iraqis probably took quite a beating during the war some might think that they would not think it worth it. However, one must also remember that the Shia were persecuted in Iraq by Saddam prior to the war. Also important to note is that as the largest group of people in Iraq they now control their own fate politically. Although recent polling shows right now that Shia Iraqis feel worse off I think there is a reasonable chance that will change IF Iraq can stabilize in the near future.
The Kurdish people probably suffered the least from the war almost setting up a state within a state. I am sure they are disappointed because they are still a part of Iraq but I am also sure that they are thankful to no longer having Saddam shooting chemical weapons at them either.
The Sunnis without a doubt have lost the most. Saddam was a Sunni so they have gone from running the government to becoming junior partners in government to people they used to persecute. You can imagine that they don’t like this and to them I would believe they do not think the war was worth it.
For Americans the war has been bitterly divisive. When the invasion was launched 10 years ago I remember polls showing support for the war around 70%. Of course that would have been based on the false assumption that Iraq held stockpiles of wmd. Couple that with gross incompetence of the nation’s senior defense officials like Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and the many generals who failed miserably in Iraq and your left with the idea that even if you thought the war was still justified because Saddam was gone you can’t excuse gross negligence/complete incompetence/near criminal misconduct with how the war was ran. Having said all of that I do believe that in spite of everything I just said as bad as the war was for everybody involved the sanctions put on Iraq after the first Gulf War killed far more Iraqis than the war did. Estimates are between 1-2 million Iraqis died from the sanctions, so you could probably say comfortably that the sanctions killed at least 1 million more people than the war did.
Surprisingly my own personal opinion about the war has changed just in the last week because of the research I did for this series. Before I started this series I was convinced the war was a complete waste based on bad intelligence or maybe even outright lies about wmd etc.. While I am still shocked and dismayed by the incompetence of our so-called leaders about the handling of the war I can say definitively that something had to be done about Iraq and the sanctions put in place after the first Gulf War. To be blunt we were butchering Iraqis literally by the thousands each year just so we could feel safe that Saddam wasn’t rearming. This was wrong period and the situation had to be changed. Does that mean there should have been an invasion? I don’t know, you would like to think that during the 90’s upon realizing what the sanctions were doing to ordinary Iraqis a real effort would have been made to get rid of Saddam by all means necessary to include war if necessary. To think that we launched the Kosovo campaign in the late 90’s to try to stop a genocide from being committed by Milosevic when we really needed to have been trying to stop a genocide in Iraq from being committed in our names makes me cringe. As bad as the war was at least it ended the even worse sanctions.
The Cold Hard Truth
190,000 Iraqis killed in the war
4488 American soldiers killed in the war
3400 American civilian contractors killed in the war
2.2 trillion dollars spent on the war
Things To Consider
1-2 million Iraqis killed because of sanctions prior to the war