"...where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
-2 Corinthians 3:17 (NASB)
"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
My problem with the war is not so much the costs v. benefits, but it is that fundamental principles that are violated by the war. Our military ought to be used to enforce US treaties and defend America against those who directly attack us; not to maintain an empire.
This war "...started off as a humanitarian mission then changed into a nation-building mission and that’s where the mission went wrong. The mission was changed. And as a result, our nation paid a price, and so I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation building. I think our troops ought to be used to fight and win war."
Guess who said that? Believe it or not, George W. Bush started his campaign as an advocate of what he called a "humble" foreign policy. What Bush said above regarding Somalia in 2000 is true about Iraq in 2008: we have changed our mission, and paid the price. No nation in history has been able to maintain an imperial foreign policy, yet America thinks she can be the exception.
I personally side with the founders when it comes to our foreign policy. As supreme court justice John Jay wrote in the federalist papers, "The JUST causes of war, for the most part, arise either from violation of treaties or from direct violence." (Federalist No. 3) I think America shouldn't go "...in search of monsters to destroy" as John Quincy Adams said.
The reasons for occupying Iraq stand in stark contrast to this philosophy. Originally, we where penalizing Hussein for violating a treaty that probably shouldn't have been there in the first place. In the end, the war turned into a nation-building fiasco.
What are we supposed to do about it now that we're in the middle of this war? Quite honestly, I'm not sure about what specific policy steps we need to take, but I'm sure that we need to get some people into Washington who actually have guts; people who are willing to vote yes if war is justified, and vote against it if not. What congress did in regard to Iraq is no less than taking a wimp vote. They gave the power to declare war to the President when the constitution clearly gives it to them (Art I, Sec 8, Cl 11). If the war had been justified in their minds, then they should have voted for it, if it wasn't, then they should have voted it down. Instead, they cast the wimp's vote so they could blame Bush for whatever happened.
The major problem I see is that no one in Washington has developed concrete principles on when we go to war and when we don't.
Random Resources on Foreign Intervention:
Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James W. Loewen (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995, p 23-24)
Federalist 69 on Declaring War: http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa69.htm