On the credit side, Iraq has been liberated from Saddam Hussein and a Baath Party that tyrannized and terrorized Iraqis for decades. Saddam is dead, his henchmen have met justice, and none will hold power again. Kurds are free. The Shia are liberated from Saddamite and Sunni oppression.
The price of liberation, however, is scores of thousands of Iraqi dead, many tortured and murdered by their own kinsmen, a ravaged nation, a sectarian civil war, al-Qaida in Anbar, 2 million exiles, the flight of Iraqi Christians, the probable break-up of the nation and the reversion of Iraq to the status of a failed state.
For America, the consequences have been enormous, when one considers that, measured by U.S. casualties, this is not a major war.
We have lost 2,300 dead and 25,000 wounded, with no end to the bleeding in sight. The worldwide sympathy America enjoyed after 9-11 is history. America is severed from old allies and despised around the world. Our reputation suffers from Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Haditha.
The material costs of the war run into the hundreds of billions, and hundreds of billions more before it ends. The U.S. Army is "breaking" or "almost broken," depending on whether one agrees with the ex-Army chief of staff or Colin Powell.
America's position in the Middle East is as imperiled as ever it was in the Cold War, with the king of Saudi Arabia accusing us of an "illegal foreign occupation" of Iraq, and Arab peoples professing pandemic detestation of America and preferring Osama bin Laden as man and leader to George W. Bush.
Most Americans are bitter at how the world perceives us today, given the sacrifices we made over 60 years to ensure that freedom did not die and the world would be a better place. But then gratitude has never been a long suit of the human race.
Yet if the world does not love us, and the American Empire is gone, are we not well rid of it? Perhaps Bush should be thanked for having shown it is not worth the cost and for having booted it away.