The U.S. effort in Iraq has gotten back at terrorists and messed up the works. Has it been worthwhile? At the end of "The Great Escape," when one officer asks the other if he thinks the harm to the German war effort was worth 50 deaths, the first replies, "I suppose that all depends on your point of view."
One point of view is that no deaths in war are worthwhile. Pacifists hope that if we say no to violence others will too -- but history and a Bible-based appraisal of human nature say otherwise. Some pacifists say it's better to be killed than to kill, but even if it were right to commit suicide, in essence, is it right not to defend others?
Are we making progress? What's needed now is wisdom, and it's not clear who has it. In a hundred years historians may know whether our soldiers died in vain, but in a hundred days we'll have a sense of whether we're going in the right direction. Be wary of politicians and pundits who speak with certainty now.