President Bush got the country into an unnecessary war on a false basis. The President says he would have attacked and occupied Iraq even if he knew then what he does now—that Saddam had no WMD, no al-Qaeda connection, and posed no imminent threat to the United States; that the war after the war would cost hundreds of billions, kill hundreds of Americans and wound thousands; that we would transform "Saddam's torture chamber" into America's torture chamber; that these acts, this war, this occupation, and our arrogance, would stain our reputation, erode our credibility, leach away our power to persuade, strengthen our enemies, and wear out our forces fighting another losing "political" war—a war from which someday, having spent billions of dollars and lost countless American lives, we will retreat without victory and (having killed so many Iraqi civilians) without honor. "We did the right thing," Bush says. The right thing?
Suppose we had done the wrong thing. Set aside the thousands of human beings who would still be alive, and the grief of those they left behind. Follow the money instead. If we had done the "wrong thing" and not invaded Iraq, how might we have spent the estimated $144 billion the war and occupation have cost to date? How much security against terrorism would that have bought? In an invaluable study, published as chart on the Op-Ed page of the August 8 New York Times, the Center for American Progress supplies some answers.