Independent's Eye by Joe Gandelman

Wither Iraq?

That's actually a two-pronged question. First, where will Iraq wind up when it completes its latest, chaotic chapter? Second, will Iraq's next incarnation be as a cohesive nation-state, or will it literally wither and splinter into two (or more) parts?

Steve Sack / Minneapolis Star-Tribune

There are many points and twists to ponder as Iraq (again) dominates the news. Here's a partial list. And I'm sure that in keeping with how our 21st century 24/7 politics operates, I'll get more of those charming weekly emails containing suggestions on where I should put my computer.

Some thoughts:

1. Baby Boomers apparently learned nothing from Vietnam.

Even though it was a bitterly divisive issue in the 1960s, the overriding historical and political consensus today is the Vietnam War was a massive, costly-in-terms-of-lives-and-treasure foreign policy mistake.

The Greatest Generation's "Best and the Brightest" miscalculated on Vietnam, and the "Mediocre and Ideologically Blinded" Baby Boomers failed to learn from their elders' mistakes, despite possessing countless history books, studies and news articles.

2. Discount conservatives' current "I told you so" on Iraq today.

They were the ones who sold the Iraq War to Americans and to the British under what turned out to be false pretenses. They offered Polyanna-ish analyses on how long the war would last, wrongly characterized how Iraq's population would receive victorious Americans and miscalculated on how a toppling Saddaam Hussein would reshape the Middle East. In retrospect, they were brimming with -- and acting on -- almost wishful thinking.

3. Discount liberals "I told you so on Iraq" today.

A segment of the Democratic Party rooted in the George McGovern wing opposes most military ventures almost immediately. They argue we shouldn't be the world's policeman, the government is lying (usually before there is any concrete evidence of that) and/or that military action is being propelled by the military-industrial complex. Yes, some liberals did present specific, thoughtful reasons for opposing the Iraq War. But many merely repeated old recycled anti-war riffs. It's like a psychic who makes 200 predictions and then touts the one that comes true as proof of special powers.

4. Televised or reported anger doesn't necessary mean widespread support.

Senator John McCain and what some call the "conservative political entertainment media" have been blaming President Barack Obama for Iraq's woes and suggesting it's time for stronger military action. McCain is screaming "I told you so," contending the U.S. shouldn't have withdrawn and should have left a residual force in Iraq. But Politico reports: "More Americans agree with President Barack Obama's views on Iraq than those of Sen. John McCain, a new poll says. According to a Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday, 54 percent of voters say they agree more with the president on Iraq, compared with 28 percent who said they agree more with McCain." McCain is as knee-jerk in his constant calls for military action as many Democrats are in their calls to avoid it.

5. The Weekly Standard's editor Bill Kristol (as usual) needs a reality check.

Kristol, increasingly the national symbol of a neocon political pundit, argued on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that Americans could be convinced to support renewed military action in Iraq. And VHS tapes and pay phones are the wave of the future.

6. Former Vice President Dick Cheney needs to look up the meaning of the Yiddish word "chutzpah."

In an op-ed co-written with his daughter Liz, the former Vice President, who left office with a poll approval rating a tad above jock itch, delivered Iraq war criticism and all blame to Obama. Cheney offering sound Iraq strategy and accurately assessing blame is like Mel Gibson teaching a course to rabbis on the meaning of Judaism.

7. The world is a dangerous place and what happens in Iraq does matter.

Serious policy makers and thoughtful Americans have to be concerned over what Al Jazeera calls the rise of "Syraq." Whatever happens in Iraq could create significant ripples throughout the region and in the U.S.

There are more aspects to ponder so this list is just a beginning.

P.S. to those who plan to email: My computer won't fit up there.


Copyright 2014 Joe Gandelman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. He also writes for The Week's online edition. CNN's John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at [email protected] and can be booked to speak at Follow him on Twitter: