09/02/2014 10:20 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

McCain Says We Must Fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq -- Have We Learned Nothing at All From the Iraq War?

T.J. Kirkpatrick via Getty Images

John McCain and his good buddy Senator Lindsey Graham are back at it, saying we must "confront ISIS now."

"But ultimately, ISIS is a military force, and it must be confronted militarily. Mr. Obama has begun to take military actions against ISIS in Iraq, but they have been tactical and reactive half-measures. Continuing to confront ISIS in Iraq, but not in Syria, would be fighting with one hand tied behind our back. We need a military plan to defeat ISIS, wherever it is....A comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS would require more troops, assets, resources and time/"

In the full op-ed piece, McCain and Graham offer a rationale that sounds very much like the Bush doctrine of "preventative war." Do we really want to do that again? Let's take a brief stroll through recent history.

The Bush administration told us in 2002 that Saddam was a grave threat, and that we must confront him now. We took him out. Our invasion birthed al-Qaeda in Iraq, a branch of which is now -- wait for it -- ISIS. No invasion of Iraq, no ISIS.

How about a little more history? In 1953, the United States believed that the democratically elected government of Iran, led by Mohammad Mossadegh, posed a threat to us. We took him out. We put the Shah in power. His repressive regime birthed the Islamist fundamentalist movement that took over Iran in 1979, and which still rules today. No coup, no Ayatollahs. How different would Mesopotamia be today if we had just avoided mucking it up?

The point here is that we have a president in the White House who needs to remember what he said about Iraq in 2002, about the "undetermined consequences" that might result from a "dumb war." One of those consequences was ISIS.

Mr. President: "Don't do stupid stuff" really is a smart mantra when it comes to foreign policy. It means don't rush to action because people like John McCain and Lindsey Graham -- men who see a threat that requires military action at least twice every day before breakfast -- demand it. You were right in 2002. Rely on that same judgment now.