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Iraq collapse may be final tragic irony

A comic allusion, in a profoundly unfunny context: In "Jurassic Park," after the kids escape from the car where they were trapped by the T-Rex, said jumbo lizard pushes said car over a wall, where it eventually falls upside down over the boy.

"Well," he says resignedly, "we're back in the car."

Well we're back in Iraq.

Not literally, thank God. But that violence-torn land is back on American policy radar, seemingly disintegrating before the world's eyes. A radical Islamic horde is storming into the country. American-trained and American-supplied Iraqi troops are peeling off their uniforms and fleeing before the insurgents, at least some of whom are armed with American weapons intended for an Iraqi defense assistance program that has already cost us $14 billion.

In the huge, bloody bucket of what Iraq has cost us, $14 billion doesn't even qualify as the proverbial drop.

So much for nation building.

Not only does Washington seem almost militantly disinclined to re-engage with Iraq in any significant way; most of that city's political VIPs apparently don't even want to talk about it.

Gee, go figure.

After all, many current denizens of Capitol Hill, in both parties, were players in the tragic, morally and politically irresponsible, and utterly misbegotten process that put Americans there in the first place. And after an 8-year occupation (Sorry -- I mean "liberation") of Iraq, they'd just as soon not call too much attention to the record, thank you very much.

Somebody needs to make them look in that political and historical mirror.

They need to look good and hard at the inexorable way an America that ought to have been better than that insinuated itself into an "inevitable" showdown -- a lines-in-the-dirt sham every bit as transparent then as it is now.

They need to look again at the gross dishonesty of politicians calculatedly and systematically linking every reference to Iraq with the terror attacks of 9/11, the most tragic day in American history.

In case you've forgotten, or just prefer not to remember: There was never any connection, never even any credible evidence of one. None. "Remember the Maine" may have been a shameless lie concocted to justify the Spanish-American War, but compared to the obscenely cynical rationale for Iraq, it was a Sunday school lesson in integrity.

Right there is the ultimate tragic irony: al Qaeda, the terror outfit actually responsible for 9/11, wasn't even a player in dictator Saddam Hussein's Iraq when we attacked -- sorry, liberated -- that land with "Shock and Awe" but it is now. Mission accomplished.

So 11 years after that conflict began and just a couple of years after the United States ended our military presence there, the "government" we backed is falling apart and our politicians are feigning surprise and disappointment. What, for God's sake, did they think was going to happen?

Almost 4,500 brave Americans died in a political war not worth a single precious one of them but that was then. As our former ambassador to Iraq said, "we have turned the page." God forbid we should go back and ask ourselves why we ever opened the book.