With the war in Iraq now in its sixth year, the debate over the true cost of the US invasion and occupation has intensified.

Critics of the war charge that the billions of dollars spent, the deaths of more than half a million Iraqis and the loss of more than 4,000 US soldiers, have not been worth what they regard as an American misadventure. 

For their part, supporters of the war say the price tag should be seen in relative terms. They argue that while no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, the US demonstrated its willingness to go to war and liberate Iraq from the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein.

They also say that the US presence in Iraq has compelled other regimes in the region, such as Libya, to give up its stockpile of WMDs and has pushed Iran into suspending its nuclear weapons programme. 

This episode of Inside Iraq asks if the war in Iraq will pass the cost-benefit analysis of an impatient American public during election year.

Our guests this week are:

Patrick Clawson, the deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Ashraf Bayoumi, an Arab activist based in Cairo, and George Joffe, the director of the Royal Institute for Strategic Studies in Cambridge.

Watch part one of this episode of Inside Iraq

Watch part two of this episode of Inside Iraq

This episode of Inside Iraq aired on Friday, May 16, 2008

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