By WGBH News
Dec. 22, 2011
BOSTON — Was the Iraq War worth it? The attacks across Iraq on Dec. 22, just days after American troops left, has put a point on the question .
On Dec. 15, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta defended the cost of the war, both financial and human: “Those lives have not been lost in vain. They gave birth to an independent, free and sovereign Iraq.”
But not everyone agrees with him. Such as Nicholas Burns, a professor of diplomacy at Harvard and a major figure in the U.S. State Department under President George Bush. At the time, he supported the decision to go to war with Iraq. Now, he said on “The Emily Rooney Show,” he has a different opinion.
“We accomplished something in Iraq, in overthrowing Saddam Hussein. We’ve given the Iraqis a chance for a better future. So I don’t look upon it as an unmitigated disaster,” he said. However, “when I ask the question ‘if we rolled back the film would you do it again?’ I certainly would not support a military invasion of Iraq.”
Most of all, Burns wondered if we’ve lost sight of something we all give lip service to at this time of year… peace.
“Think about Lincoln after the Civil War, FDR and Truman after the Second World War, even Nixon in Vietnam. The ultimate national aspiration was peace. They said that,” he said. “Our political leaders in both parties are now not saying that. What they’re saying is ‘defend, protect ‘ — a very important thing but we’ve also got to think about, about in a democratic society, flying the flag for peace and having that as the ultimate aspiration.”