Cheney and Iraq

Megan Kelly to Dick Cheney: ‘Time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir.’

Charlie Rose’s PBS show was on one night a couple of weeks ago, and Thomas Friedman was on, talking about this climate change movie he was involved with; I taped to watch the next night. One sentence jumped out at me. In the places where Arab Spring seemed to have worked, notably Tunisia, it involved an understanding that there needed to be a sharing of power.

Then I started watching the NBC Nightly News, and the foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, was back in Baghdad, Iraq. He explained that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was able to progress so quickly because the central Iraq government of Nouri al-Maliki failed to foster shared governance among his Shiites with the Sunnis and the Kurds. As a result, the country of Iraq is, for all intents and purposes, dead and has been replaced by three successor states, former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden said.

It occurred to me that:
1. Friedman and Engel were saying the same thing: if you don’t play share the toys with each other, bad stuff will inevitably take place.
2. Maybe Joe Biden was right back in 2006 when he suggested essentially a trilateral government. It made sense to me at the time, but he was roundly criticized.

Given the usual predictable partisan rhetoric, I have been in shock of late:
Fox News’ Shep Smith Gives Iraq Hawks A History Lesson
Glenn Beck Admits “Liberals, You Were Right” On Iraq; so does Pat Robertson
*Andrew P. Napolitano’s A Libertarian View of the Iraq War is to stay out.

And maybe the biggest surprise:
FOX News’ Megan Kelly slams former Vice-President Dick Cheney:
“Quoting from Cheney’s Wall Street Journal op-ed, Kelly read, ‘Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many,’ before adding, ‘Time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir.’
She then proceeds to list some of his most blatant lies – [Weapons of Mass Destruction], liberator’s welcome, etc – before asking ‘what do you say to those who say you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?’”

In a rare consensus, Sunnis and Shiites tell Cheney to SHUT UP. Too bad that piece was satire.

Clearly, Cheney is hardly the only Iraq ‘expert’ who is always wrong about Iraq this century. The odd thing about Cheney, though, was that during and after the first Gulf War in the 1990s, he repeatedly said that invading Baghdad would create a quagmire. Despite the Mission Accomplished banner in May 2003, that’s what happened. And it was George W. Bush who signed the order for American troops to leave, not Barack Obama, after failing to get a different arrangement from the Iraqi government.

I do feel very sad for the American veterans of this war and their families. During the recent D-Day remembrances, those old soldiers got to go back to the places they liberated. The Iraq soldier who fought to win Tikrit, the military family whose son or daughter or spouse or parent died in Mosul must wonder about the value of their sacrifice. Unfortunately, a quote attributed to Herbert Hoover has long been true: “Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.”

The roots of this conflict are very old, long before the clumsy partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, maybe going back to the origins of the Shiite-Sunni split.

The US reentry into Iraq is making me very nervous, but we’ll see how it plays out.