Much has been said of former Vice President Dick Cheney's Wall Street Journal op-ed where he criticized President Barack Obama's handling of Iraq. Cheney's contribution to the discourse in Iraq is as meaningful as someone holding an emergency meeting on the Titanic to ascertain the whereabouts of the missing bucket.

I doubt there are many levelheaded individuals who would take seriously anything Cheney and his neocon cohorts offer about Iraq, given their dubious contribution to what can only be considered an unmitigated disaster.

Included in Cheney's recent screed was the now infamous quote: "Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many."

Other than that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, what were the artisans of the Iraq War correct about? Weapons of mass destruction, victory would be a "slam dunk," along with "Mission Accomplished" are among the misguided quotes that placed American lives and treasure on a fool's errand.

Appearing on "Meet the Press," Republican Sen. Rand Paul countered Cheney's charges:

"I don't blame President Obama. Has he really got the solution? Maybe there is no solution. But I do blame the Iraq War on the chaos that is in the Middle East. I also blame those who are for the Iraq War for emboldening Iran. These are the same people now who are petrified of what Iran may become, and I understand some of their worry."

While Paul appears to have come to the aid of the president, it was also a salvo fired toward former Secretary of State and possible 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

An area where Clinton could be vulnerable remains the clumsy manner in which she explains her vote as senator in support of the Iraq War.

But Clinton's inability to explain her participation in Iraq is the least of America's problems. What should America do as a growing number of Iraqi military forces are withdrawing in the wake of the consolidation of power by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which is now reportedly controlling much of Iraq's western border?

The latest developments in Iraq are the most glaring evidence to date how sophomoric the 2003 pre-emptive invasion has proved to be. Democracy is not something that can be imported.

Voting does not equate to democracy. Stalin had elections, as did the South during Jim Crow segregation.

Some even attempted to argue that the Arab Spring was the unintended consequence that vindicated former President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq.

What plagues Iraq and ostensibly the Middle East is most likely beyond America's sphere of influence.

Columnist Tom Friedman has argued the Middle East needs someone who can appeal to the moral consciousness of the region, a Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Gandhi or a Martin Luther King-like figure.

While these people fought against oppression in their homelands, they did so in countries that possessed enough democratic infrastructure so that their marvelous abilities and influence could ultimately rise to the top.

Shadi Hamid, author of "Temptations of Power," argues that before any democratic ideals can take hold authentically, the Middle East must go through its own form of Enlightenment period. But such efforts require time.

The Age of Enlightenment in the West began more than 200 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Moreover, the Revolutionary War was fought while many Americans remained loyal to the British.

How can there be any type of stabilization in the Middle East that is not rooted in its own people? And how can the people undertake that revolutionary mission until there is an emphasis placed on reason and the individual who untangles the unhealthy interdependence between religion and politics?

These were probably questions that should have been posed before the 2003 pre-emptive war. But, alas, everyone's IQ is higher ex post facto -- certain neocons notwithstanding.

Byron Williams is a contributing columnist. Contact him at 510-208-6417 or byron@byronspeaks.com.