A message to the Cheneys: No, Iraq isn't a political opportunity

It's civil war in Iraq, and an uncivil war of words in the U.S.

Iraq may well be sliding into civil war, but now, it seems, the strife over there is also sparking an uncivil war here at home.

Naturally, the American fight is a war of words, pitting several Republican bigwigs (read: Dick and Liz Cheney, Sens. John McCain and Mitch McConnell) against the Obama administration and its supporters (read: Sen. Harry Reid and Democrats).

The basic Republican charge: Obama has lost Iraq. (Yes, it’s an old chestnut, as in “Truman lost China.” Still, I don’t recall Democrats saying, “Nixon lost Vietnam.” Just sayin’.)

Anyway, the GOP criticism may be, you know, just a wee bit hasty, given that Iraq as of right now is still standing.

But that didn’t stop the Cheneys from penning a nasty op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday aimed at Obama with these oh-so-clever punch lines (stolen from one Winston Churchill and sportswriters too numerous to name): “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many,” and “Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.”

This sparked a quick rebuttal from Reid, who rose on the Senate floor Wednesday morning to proclaim:

“Being on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is being on the right side of history.”

And he gigged McConnell specifically, saying: “Do the Republicans and their leader believe that servicemen and women in Kentucky and the other 49 states in this great country should be inserted in the middle of their civil war? I don’t think so.”

Which, really, gets to the heart of the matter. Americans are, indeed, conflicted on what is happening in Iraq. On the one hand, it’s not easy to watch a country that we poured so much blood and money into start to implode. On the other, ask yourself this: Do you want to send your son or daughter to die there?

The fact is, no one has lost Iraq. Iraq isn’t, and never was, ours to “lose.” George W. Bush and, yes, Dick Cheney launched an ill-fated war in 2003 in hopes of changing the political equation in the Middle East. They succeeded in that: Their war certainly changed the political equation. That it didn’t change it in the way they hoped is, to be kind, too bad, in many, many ways.

But for the likes of the Cheneys to try to score political points off the situation is worse. It’s unseemly. And it’s unnecessary.There’s more than enough blame to go around for the Iraq mess.

Americans have enough issues dividing us. How an unnecessary, ill-fated war has ended should absolutely not be one of them.

Follow Paul Whitefield on Twitter @PaulWhitefield1

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