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WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY JR. No. Emphatically no. Were we wrong to undertake what we did? The objectives were sound, but our reach proved insufficient to realize them. > Buckley is a conservative author and syndicated columnist
TOMMY FRANKS Yes. America remains very proud of and very thankful to our sons and daughters serving in Iraq and around the world in the cause of freedom. The events of 9/11 taught us a valuable lesson: ignoring terrorism will not make the problem go away. The sacrifices of our military members and their families are giving Iraqis a chance for freedom. And a free Iraq serves not only Iraqis. It will stand as a model in the Middle East, a model that represents to millions of people that there is an alternative to terrorism.
> As chief of U.S. Central Command, General Franks, now retired, oversaw the invasion of Iraq
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA I believe that the balance sheet for the war at this moment is quite negative. The war foreclosed the possibility of Saddam restarting his WMD programs and replaced his dictatorship with Iraq's new democracy--both real gains. Balanced against these gains are costs that go well beyond the direct human and financial ones. The occupation of Iraq has served as a tremendous stimulus for Arab and Muslim anti-Americanism and thus has made radical Islamist terrorism significantly worse than it would otherwise be. America's reputation around the world has taken a huge hit among ordinary people who are now more likely to associate our democracy with scenes of prisoner abuse than with the Statue of Liberty. We, of course, do not know what the future will bring, but the upside potential of Iraq's post-Saddam order looks more and more limited. The central state will remain weak for years to come, and where the Shi'ite parties have established their rule, we get not a liberal democracy but an Iranian-style rule by clerics.
> Fukuyama is a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the author of America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy
HISHAM KASSEM Sadly, I have to say yes. It is difficult to commend such a bloody scene. But it achieved something useful. Parallel to the chaos and bloodshed, there is a political process evolving in Iraq. Bloodshed is the price of the transition from Saddam's psychopathic dictatorship. The losses would have been higher had Saddam stayed on. You could easily see that regime lasting another 30 years, under his sons and top generals. Negotiating with Iraq was not an option. There had to be a military intervention. You have a bloc of 22 countries in the Arab world dominated by authoritarianism and dictatorship. It is not a bloc you could engage politically and pressure for reform. By military intervention, the U.S. is able to pressure the region into adopting the reforms we are beginning to see across the region that might avert many countries from becoming failed states. The world cannot put up with state failure in the backyard of the world's oil fields, Israel and Europe.
> Democracy activist Kassem is vice chairman of the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Masry al-Youm