Just as World War I didn't prove to be "the war to end all wars," the 20th century didn't turn out to be when the nearly unimaginable brutality and indescribable evil represented by German dictator Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime was definitively laid to rest. The evil is back. Big-time. This time it's in the form of the militant Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is battling to take over Syria and Iraq and has already blurred the two countries' boundaries. It's leaving trails of bodies -- and horrors -- in its path.
To this day there's some dispute over who originated the phrase "grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory." What is certain is we're now seeing living examples of the phrase, demonstrated by both the Obama administration and the Republican Party. Victory's jaws are surely sore from the pulls by Obama & Co. and the GOP in a controversial prisoner exchange, where American Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was traded for five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo.
America has just had its jolting Michael Corleone moment. In the third and least successful Godfather movie, bigwig crime boss Michael Corleone, who spent years trying to get his "family" into legitimate businesses, says: " Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in." He's sucked back into the overtly criminal practices of his family's sordid past, and in the end he pays a huge price. And so it goes in the 21st century where two manifestations of the worst instinct and operative practice in American life were in full, raw, display -- complete with their defenders and enablers.