One could focus on Weapons of Mass Destruction--Iraq not only did not have any, but did not have significant programs. Turns out Hussein was a bit deceptive on this one. So, the principle justification for the war turns out to be a chimera. So, one that one measure, nope, not worth it.
The Bush folks would be saying Saddam Hussein, Saddam Hussein, Saddam Hussein. Yep, the dictator is dead and gone. Was that worth 4,500 American lives, tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, the empowering of Iran, the recruitment tool of a generation for terrorist groups, the trillion dollars or so now and the trillions down the road in veterans' health care costs? While the sanctions regime was starting to collapse, it is not clear how all these costs could be outweighed by one entirely contained dictator.
The new justification of democratization, something that only really believed by the fevered mind of Paul Wolfowitz, would assert that democracy in Iraq set off a cascade of democratization that we now know as Arab Spring. There are so many problems with this assertion, including:
- how one can draw a casual connection from Iraq to Tunisia;
- that we actually have democracy thus far in only Tunisia, not Egypt and not Libya;
- that "democracy" in Iraq is a pretty questionable thing, which end up being more about tyranny of the majority (Shiites crush Sunnis and Kurds) than about the features we usually associate with democracy.
- Oh, and having thousands of US troops in Iraq probably didn't help the opponents of the regime in Iran at all.