Remember how cock-sure they were? Saddam had weapons of mass destruction squirrelled away somewhere and we were in his crazed crosshairs. So, we had to take Saddam out before he took us out with those sneaky, mobile WMD labs or sent some suicidal kid in a vest with a vial of sarin onto the London underground.

Who the heck were those millions of naïve, placard-waving drifters to doubt the learned word of the ram-rod straight patriots at Langley?

The top CIA guy claimed this asininity was a “slam dunk” because the agency’s super source, code-named “curveball,” said so.

The cavalry of pretend journalists on those make-believe news networks nodded in agreement. Who the heck were those millions of naïve, placard-waving drifters to doubt the learned word of the ram-rod straight patriots at Langley?

Curveball, slider or whatever, the cavalry insisted the invasion — er, “regime change” — was going to be fast, cheap and easy … sort of like ordering take-out at a drive-thru. And the mostly American and British teenagers would be greeted with garlands of gratitude by Iraqis pining for a belated, but satisfying, taste of U.S.-style pop culture and democracy.

Turns out that the cavalry’s indefatigable assurances were about as cheap as one-ply toilet paper. In the meantime, countless Iraqi children, women and men have been killed, maimed, tortured, and traumatized. Still countless more packed up what was left of their homes and lives and walked for days to refugee camps in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan to call a crate or a tent home.

The cavalry should have tendered letters of resignation at their respective “think” tanks and newsrooms. Then, decency demanded they make a one-way trip on their high horses to a monastery where taking a vow of permanent silence was the price of admission.

Alas, the keyboard cavalry has no sense of decency. Instead, they kept their comfy gigs, hefty cash-to-yak cheques and impressive-looking calling cards.

With the Iraq War receding further into their rearview mirror and always on the hunt for more war, the cavalry has suddenly taken to saying and writing the stuff they said and wrote the last time they offered up geopolitical advice.

But, this time, the cavalry has set their sights on Vlad, not Saddam. You see, they’re working their way down the alphabet of tyrants. (Please note that the cavalry has skipped calling Mr. T — aka Donald Trump — a tyrant-in-waiting since he’s, well, the “president-elect.”)

Make room, everyone, for the cavalry’s newest and decades’ old honorary member of the “axis of evil” Russia — formerly known as the evil empire. Original, aren’t they?

Apparently, the cavalry has found the big, bad Russkies and their Machiavellian ex-KGB leader for life unanimously guilty of using the “dark arts” of espionage to make Trump president.

At least that’s the CIA’s, and lately, the FBI’s “assessment,” according to page-one stories in the New York Times — the same newspaper that got played like a gullible, eager-to-please community newspaper by the fictitious “curveball.”

The corporate media was obsessed with Hillary’s emails like frothing, rabid newshounds on a bone long before the election.

Reportedly, Putin ordered his tech-savvy spooks to hack into the Democratic National Committee’s server and use proxies like WikiLeaks to leak embarrassing emails drip by damaging drip.

The intent, the theory goes, was to get the corporate media to fixate on Hillary Clinton’s email travails, rather than Trump’s abominations during the election, thus almost single-handedly and miraculously securing victory for Putin’s orange-haired poodle.

Hello. There’s a Mount Rushmore-sized problem with the CIA’s “assessment:” The corporate media was obsessed with Hillary’s emails like frothing, rabid newshounds on a bone long before the election — without any help from Russia or Putin.

I suppose Putin’s spies also secretly manipulated those salivating newshounds into launching frenzied investigations of Hillary’s role in the Whitewater “scandal,” Benghazi or her phantom involvement in the “suspicious” suicide of Vince Foster.

Clinton was branded a slippery, truth allergic “beltway” politician by the very gang that now breathlessly declares, based on anonymous spooks and cops, that Putin was personally responsible for branding Clinton a slippery, truth allergic beltway politician via a trove of hacked emails.

To add stupidity to injury, Putin’s surreptitious plans were so devious that he was somehow able to pinpoint and subsequently get a batch of swing voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio and Florida to turn against Clinton, while allowing her to win the popular vote by almost three million votes and counting. That’s quite a logistical feat engineered all the way from Moscow.

By raising these smack-the-forehead-type absurdities, I risk being tarred as a Kremlin stooge or worse, accused of not having read Darkness at Noon, Orwell or Saint Christopher Hitchens.

The pre-Vanity Fair and hobnobbing with Bush Jr’s cabinet version of Hitchens may have shared and raised these logical and sensible reservations to the prevailing narrative.

The post U.S. citizenship Hitchens, I suspect, would have joined other marquee members of the cavalry in squealing that Putin’s alleged clandestine schemes to influence America’s otherwise pristine presidential election (insert guffaw here) constituted an “act of war.”

That’s what Times’ columnist and Iraq war apostle, Thomas Friedman, told his comrade in hyperbolic arms, Wolf Blitzer, during a visit to the so-called Situation Room late last week.

“If Russia has hacked our election, that is an attack on our democratic process. That’s an act of war,” Friedman said.

Them’s fighting words, Tom. No doubt, just like Iraq, you and the rest of the cavalry will be quite content to let others do the fighting, killing and dying while you sell your latest book on CNN.

We’re watching the same leaks from the same sources given the same prominent play in the same news media and prompting the same writers to write with the same certainty and rhetoric that led to one calamitous war.

Today, they’re girding for another.