06/22/2014 08:40 pm ET Updated Aug 22, 2014

The Good Guys and Bad Guys in Iraq

A historical perspective helps to understand today's crisis in Iraq.

In 2003 Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq. He was a bad guy. A bunch of good guys named Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith decided to invade Iraq and get rid of this bad guy.

After the invasion they were stunned to discover that Saddam Hussein was not the only bad guy in Iraq. We found out that Iraq is populated with Shiites and Sunnis, many of whom were also bad guys. Who knew?

To deal with this problem we sent over a group of really good guys who had held low level positions in Republican political campaigns. This group planned to bestow on Iraq the blessings of a flat tax, financial deregulation, privatized social security and tax breaks for job creators, thus unleashing the miraculous power of free markets.

Talk about ingrates. Instead of embracing free markets, the Sunni bad guys assembled Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Shiite bad guys formed the Mahdi army. Both these groups tried to kill American soldiers when they were not killing each other. It turned out that the Shiites and Sunnis hated each other. Who knew?

Nouri al-Maliki became prime minister of Iraq. We thought he was a good guy but he turned out to be a bad guy. We asked him to reach out to the Sunnis, but he removed them from all positions of authority. "They are bad guys," he explained.

Meanwhile, there was an uprising in Syria against Bashar Hafez al-Assad, a bad guy of the first order. The insurgents, Islamic Jihadists, were also bad guys. We thought Assad was more bad then the insurgents because he allied himself with Hezbollah and the Iranians who are the most contemptible sort of bad guys.

But the insurgents then formed the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). ISIS constitutes the most loathsome group of bad guys conceivable. So Syria now resembles a football game between Auburn and Alabama with all fair-minded people rooting for both sides to lose.

ISIS recently invaded Iraq and began beheading people they didn't like. ISIS now controls a large area of western and northern Iraq. Their success demonstrates just what detestable bad guys they are. While we had 170,000 troops in Iraq, ISIS fields only 2,000 to 4,000 fighters. Are they trying to embarrass our military? Maybe. I told you these insurgents were serious bad guys.

In response to ISIS success, Iraqi Shiites reformed the Mahdi army. These are the same bad guys who fought us for years. Vladimir Putin, the archetypical bad guy, recently called Maliki to offer Russia's "full support for Iraqi government's effort to liberate Iraqi territory from the terrorists' hands."

President Obama is sending 300 good guys to Iraq as advisers. Will they advise the vile bad guys, or the odious bad guys, or the despicable bad guys or the malicious bad guys? This is the subject of fierce debate within the Obama administration.