In retrospect, post-9/11 conflicts not worth the costs

Upon the anniversary of Sept. 11, I found myself thinking about our country as a whole and the wars that followed the terrorist attacks. While undeniably tragic, the subsequent wars after 9/11 have not been worth the cost the United States has paid to fight them.

The Middle East before 2001 was an obscure, faraway place that had little effect on our day-to-day lives. Today, in 2012, the Middle East is a hotbed of political and social turmoil that has taken brave men and women away from their families and thrown them in harm’s way.

At the start of the war, America was a different place. People wanted to take action against al-Qaida; we were vulnerable after an attack on our home soil. We appeared to be ready for war.

Today, we are facing a slightly different atmosphere. Instead of pro-war propaganda, we are hearing anti-war sentiments. It is not “cool” to be at war and, for some, President Barack Obama’s timeline for bringing our troops home from Afghanistan is not quick enough.

So the question is, were these past nine years worth it? The war should have been, if not avoided all together, a lot shorter than its current span. We couldn’t afford the venture, and we certainly couldn’t afford the loss of lives.

To attack this loaded controversy, we must consider why we invaded Iraq. At first, the American people were persuaded to believe that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and that it was inevitable that he would pass these weapons along to help al-Qaida fight against us. We now know this was false due to the lack of evidence that would place WMD in Hussein’s possession.

Since it was becoming clear to the U.S. government that it would not be able to play the fear card, it opted for nationalism by claiming the U.S. was in Iraq to promote democracy and free the Iraqi people from Hussein’s grasp.

On May 1, 2003 former President George W. Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. Now, fast forward to December 2011 when the last U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq. What is wrong with this picture?

With a total of $757.8 billion in defense spending on the Iraq War, almost 5,000 killed and about 32,000 wounded, did we really need to keep the war going for all these years? The war on terror was just a mask for the U.S to re-enter the oil industry in Iraq; prior to 2003, most Western oil companies were shut out of the Iraqi oil market.

So was it worth it? Was it worth hearing reports of 18-year-old soldiers being killed in suicide bomber attacks? Was it worth the government pouring billions into a foreign place where we were not welcomed, our economy crumbling in the process?

It would have been logical to pull out when “Mission Accomplished” was declared. I believe we were wasting money and, more importantly, wasting lives fighting a war that didn’t need to be fought.