6/25/2014, 3 p.m.
Dick Cheney and other neo-conservatives who started the war in Iraq the first time are clamoring for a second chance ...
Yassin Allalak, an 11-year-old boy from Iraq, raises the flag of his home nation in front of the White House on June 21 during a demonstration against new military action in Iraq. Nancy Shia

Eleven years ago, when the Bush administration and a compliant media began beating the drums of war, more than 15 million people marched in cities around the world demanding that President George W. Bush veer away from attacking Iraq.

Bush ignored them.

He and other neo-conservatives like Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and Elliott Abrams made what they said a compelling case that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

And on March 19, 2003, American and coalition forces invaded Iraq. Bush, Cheney and the rest painted the rosiest of pictures: that the war would be short, that American soldiers would be greeted as liberators and that the money used to finance the invasion and subsequent occupation would come from oil revenues.

The presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction proved to be a lie and the invasion destroyed Iraq setting it on a tragic spiral from which it has yet to emerge. There have certainly been military costs, particularly the lives of Americans lost in an unnecessary war, but the human costs have been staggering: it’s estimated that between 700,000 and 1 million Iraqi civilians died in the conflict; millions more have been displaced; the bombing campaign shattered the country’s infrastructure.

Bush routed and then dismantled the Iraqi army, removed members of the Ba’ath Party from power and created a power vacuum which exacerbated the complicated economic, political, and social problems already present during the first two years of occupation. Without any resources for living, author Huda Ahmed said, many Iraqis were forced to take desperate measures, such as joining the insurgency.

Fast-forward to 2014 and the media is abuzz with news of the lightning fast strikes of ISIS (Islamic State in Syria and Iraq), an extremist group seeking to create an Islamic state encompassing all or parts of Syria and Iraq. The U.S.-backed government of Nouri Al-Maliki could conceivably be swept away by the Sunni insurgents and all around Washington, there are calls for President Barack Obama to send troops back to Iraq.

Sen. John McCain, for example, has criticized Obama, saying his withdrawal of American troops left Iraq vulnerable and unable to respond to the ISIS threat. We are also witnessing the unseemly scenario of Cheney and other neo-conservatives who started the war the first time, clamoring for a second chance to insert American troops into a conflict that threatens to consume Iraq.

We hope the president ignores them and if he’s swayed, we hope we’ll see a repeat of what happened when Obama and Congress tilted toward invading Syria – a huge public outcry, marches and demonstrations to make it abundantly clear that this country is sick and tired of war.