With the war in Iraq ending, we hear speeches praising our returning soldiers and reflecting on their fellow service men and women, who died in the conflict as not giving their lives in vain.

Saddam Hussein was disposed, a freer Iraq, and even the Arab Spring are being used as examples of the sacrifice of lives being worth it and therefore not in given in vain.

This was an elective war, based on false premises, waged on a target unconnected with the nation’s rage, tinged with personal vengeance, based on erroneous assumptions about war plans and occupation, without genuine consensus, opposed by the public and our allies, crafted by politics, and with mixed consequences.

It was a war in vain, and this country sacrificed soldiers to the vanities of the political intrigues of the Bush administration and a host of other non-combatants.

Our soldiers deserve praise. Those killed did not die in vain as individuals. But the outcome in Iraq was not the worthy sacrifice. Rather it was the service rendered to discharge their job as ordered, the constitutional acquiescent of our military to civilian authority, and meeting the challenges of multiple deployments to serve their country that highlights their personal sacrifice.

Iraq was a war in vain. Its outcomes have not been worthy of the sacrifice of our service men and women. Soldiers follow orders that are given in our name and it is we who ask them to risk, suffer and deliver death.

Let the lesson of Iraq be that the almost 4,500 soldiers who lost their lives did not die in vain because we have learned to more critically and carefully question the premise for waging war before committing to the terrible sacrifices it confers on those who serve in the military.

Bruce Bourgoine

Readfield