James Fallows is an award winning writer for the Atlantic Monthly. He wrote an article about the Iraq War that appeared in the Atlantic and included the following: There is no evidence that the President and those closest to him ever talked systematically about the "opportunity costs" and tradeoffs in their decision to invade Iraq.
No one has pointed to a meeting, a memo, a full set of discussions, about what America would gain and lose. The Administration apparently did not consider questions like "If we pursue the war on terror by invading Iraq, might we incite even more terror in the long run?" and "If we commit so many of our troops this way, what possibilities will we be giving up?"
Bush "did not think of this, intellectually, as a comparative decision," I was told by Senator Bob Graham, of Florida, who voted against the war resolution for fear it would hurt the fight against terrorism. "It was a single decision: he saw Saddam Hussein as an evil person who had to be removed." ... A man who participated in high-level planning for both Afghanistan and Iraq--and who is unnamed here because he still works for the government--told me, "There was absolutely no debate in the normal sense."
Think about what that means: this Administration took this country into a war with a country that had not attacked us, was not implicated in the attacks on 9-11, did not have any weapons of mass destruction, and before they started this war, they didn't bother to present Bubble-Boy with a memo outlining the calculated costs versus the expected benefits. Nor was such an analysis imposed on the Administration by the media. The media never asked Bush whether he had compared the costs to the benefits before starting this war. They never asked the Administration to produce a memo that Bush had been given in which the costs and benefits were set out. Instead they sallowed the Administration's BS hook, line, and sinker.
Now, however, both the GOP and the media want to impose such a debate on Democrats who want us to leave Iraq. Now we are supposed to weigh the costs of our leaving against the costs of our staying. Now that we are stuck in this awful mess, the GOP and the media want to do some cost-benefit analysis. Well, if we didn't have to do it to get into this mess, why do we have to do it to get out of it?
Quotes taken from a Fallows article about George Tenet, which you can read here.