Three years into the war, TIME asked leading thinkers around the world to weigh in on whether the war in Iraq has been worth the cost. Readers also sent in their responses to the key question. Here is a selection. Some responses have been edited for space and other considerations.
Am I the only one that thinks it is sad that the greatest nation the world has ever seen could not remove one man and his two sons from power without getting 30,000 people killed and running up a tab of one trillion dollars ? Even sadder is that the administration thought that taking these three men out would completely change 2,000 years of culture. Iraq a mistake then, and now.
This war was a terrible mistake. It was an idea brought to life by a few men and lot of lies. War supporters keep trying to point back to 9-11 as the reason for this war. But it is clear there were no ties between Suddam and Bin Laden. I suggest to everyone to read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's speech "Beyond Vietnam" which he delivered at the Riverside Baptist Church in New York, and see for themselves the eerie simularities between the Vietnam war and this Iraqi mess. My brother is a decorated Vietnam vet. I remember the way that war changed him. He wasn't the same man. He only talked to me once about his time over there. About the time they went to rescue some POWs. I can see his face now, the way he kept saying, "That was a bad day." I wouldn't wish that kind of pain on any man, on any family. Any man in office who would send men to die based on half-truths and lies doesn't deserve that office.
I think that history will show that it was worth it. In 20 to 30 years we will see a changed middle east. Freedom will shine and what was once a hot bed for war and terrorism will be an ally of freedom and democrocies throughout the world.
Thomas G. Stigler
Dishonest reasons were given to start the war. It was greed for power by US and UK to control oil rich regions, and the last thing on their plate was freedom, facts, humanity. The result was death, distruction, poverty and disorder.
Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia
Was it worth it to spend over 2,000 American lives and 100s of billions of dollars to bring a stable nation in the Middle East to the door of civil war? The question is silly. This has been the first Great Debacle of the 21st Century.
Brian D Hinson
We will only be able to tell whether the Iraq war was worth it in probably 20 years. I believe in time it will grudgingly be thought of as worth it. Was the Vietnam war worth it. Yes, in the long run it was. Vietnam, especially North Vietnam, was an isolationist nation, not wanting to be part of the greater world. That war forced it to open up. Today, Vietnam is one of America's best associates, in trade and travel. That war led to America opening up to China. Wars, history has shown, have facilitated and consolidated the world's determination to be globalized. The Iraqi war, in a charateristically perverse way, is furthering that process.