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“Don’t Be Bashful!”: Anyone Here Miss Dick Cheney? Neither Do I

As Iraq ruptures into fragments, none other than Dick Cheney has shambled forth to blame Barack Obama.

“Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong so much at the expense of so many,” the former vice president huffed in a Wall Street Journal column, blind to the irony of his own toxic self-righteousness.

No American political figure in recent history has been dead wrong as consistently as Cheney, or as loath to admit it.

It was he and George W. Bush who set in the motion the catastrophe now unspooling in Iraq. The decision to invade was peddled to Congress and the American people with a campaign of myth making that Cheney still refuses to disown.

Long after Bush was forced to concede that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, and long after U.S. intelligence agencies affirmed that Saddam Hussein had no connection to al Qaeda, Cheney continued to promote these discredited scenarios to justify his own hyperbolic cheerleading for the war.

Remember, this is the same arrogant boob who predicted that U.S. troops would be welcomed as “liberators.”

It took nine years and a new administration to finally get our ground forces out of that sad and awful mess. Now Cheney is pathetically trying to elevate his lowly place in history by attacking Obama for letting Iraq go to pieces.

In truth, the collapse began March 19, 2003, the day we started the “shock and awe” bombing.

Hussein was a rotten guy who ruled with an iron first, but he had no tolerance for jihadist terrorists. Eleven years ago, al Qaeda steered clear of Iraq. Today the country is overrun by al Qaeda-inspired insurgents, leaving the United States at a far greater risk than before.

Thank you, George and Dick.

Unlike his retired vice president, Bush has shown the calm decency — and good sense — not to stir foreign-policy debates. Cheney’s whining and jeering only serves to remind Americans of his own disastrously bad judgment and needy ego.

The hero’s legacy that Cheney craves for himself belongs instead to those men and women who were sent by his administration to fight in Iraq.

Cheney himself never served in uniform, having avoided Vietnam by securing numerous draft deferments. His appetite for war arose later in his life, when he was no longer at personal risk, and has followed him into his spiteful old age.

His views on Iraq have provoked mass public eye-rolling. It would be hard to find someone with less credibility, or someone more callous to the sacrifices that have already been made.

Beyond the $2 trillion-and-counting price tag, the cost of the Iraq invasion and occupation has been enormous.

Officially: 4,486 American soldiers died in combat there, and 32,226 were wounded in action. The unofficial toll is much higher — nearly a million veterans of the war have sought medical or psychological treatment at VA hospitals since their return.

The exact number of Iraqi civilians killed during the long conflict is impossible to determine, but estimates start at 115,000 — and still there’s no peace. The country is being split by ancient religious feuds that were barely held to a simmer during the U.S. occupation.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has resisted U.S. pressure for him to include Sunnis in the government, and now he’s paying the price. His hold is so weak that many Iraqi troops (the ones we spent billions to train) dropped their guns and surrendered immediately to the insurgents.

Cheney’s op-ed column, written with his daughter Liz, dishonestly blasts Obama for abandoning Iraq. Actually it was Bush, Cheney’s own boss, who signed the agreement requiring all U.S. troops to be gone by 2011.

And it was still too long.

Obama won the White House campaigning on a promise to end the war, which he did. No one who’s been paying attention to the Mideast seriously expected peace and harmony to ensue. Only the Iraqis can fix Iraq.

Surprisingly, the two opining Cheneys didn’t call for a brand-new invasion. Liz probably talked the old man out of it. Brushed the crumbs off his bathrobe. Sent him upstairs for a nap.

Note to future presidents: Whatever advice Dick Cheney offers, do exactly the opposite and you’ll never go wrong.

 

By: Carl Hiaasen, Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, June 24, 2014

June 25, 2014 Posted by | Dick Cheney, Iraq, Iraq War | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Cheneys’ Continuing Iraq Disaster”: Dick And Liz Are Trying Desperately To Justify The Unjustifiable

On the heels of Father’s Day, we get a Wall Street Journal missive from none other than Dick and Liz Cheney, the father-daughter duo. Really?

For those who thought they had seen the last of Liz and her ill-fated and absurd challenge to Republican Sen. Mike Enzi from Wyoming, the state she hardly lived in and didn’t know, she’s back! And Dick, who can’t resist a diatribe to justify his ill-fated and disastrous policy in Iraq, has never learned to zip it.

The worst part is the supposed substance of their piece: Iraq is all Obama’s fault. He is “willfully blind,” “he goes golfing,” “he abandoned Iraq,” he is guilty of “simple -minded appeasement.” The Cheney team’s conclusion: “President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.”

What drivel.

There is absolutely no discussion of the dynamics of the Middle East in their article. There is no mention of the deeply religious conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. There is no mention of the Kurds. There is no substantive exploration of the involvement of other nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran, in this conflict. There is not one reference to policy options that should be considered in response to the attack by terrorist groups associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL or ISIS.

In short, this is an article devoid of substance, let alone a reasonable discussion of public policy.

So, aside from being a vitriolic attack against President Obama, why did they write it? The answer is pretty straightforward, I think. The Cheneys are trying desperately to justify the unjustifiable.

Dick Cheney lied to get us into Iraq: weapons of mass destruction; Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11; the people want us there; we’ll be greeted as liberators; chemical weapons are ready to be unleashed. On and on. Dick Cheney was one of the architects of one of the most extraordinary disasters ever in the history of American foreign policy: more than $1 trillion spent, thousands killed, a country destroyed. Al-Qaida was not present in Iraq before the invasion, but what about now? Because of the Bush-Cheney policy, we created more terrorists than we could ever have dreamed of killing.

The line from Dick and Liz that is truly astounding, and they seem most proud of, is: “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.” It is truly sad that they don’t recognize that such a line applies so much more completely to them and what they did. Their preferred policy was a complete disaster, and most people know it.

President George Herbert Walker Bush surely understood, when he wrote these words in his book about the policy decisions he made on Iraq back in the early 1990s: “We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. … There was no viable ‘exit strategy’ we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations’ mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.”

Yes, Mr. and Ms. Cheney, and that is precisely what you did and what you recommend now. A disaster then, a disaster now.

 

By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, June 18, 2014

June 22, 2014 Posted by | Dick Cheney, Iraq, Iraq War | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Damage The Neocons Did Lives On”: Armchair Hawks Still Cling To Fantasies About Iraq

Once upon a time, I believed that if a mature adult made an obvious mistake, he would own up to it, apologize and take responsibility. I believed that if he were a leading political figure who had willfully led the public into disaster, he’d work tirelessly in an attempt to make amends, preferably in some low-key role in which he avoided attention and applause. I believed that if he had made a catastrophic mistake — one that cost tens of thousands of people their lives — he’d spend the rest of his life in quiet reflection, seeking to atone for his sins.

I’ve long recognized my naivete, but Dick Cheney has recently reminded me just how wrong I was.

Nearly 4,500 U.S. troops and more than 100,000 Iraqis lost their lives during a misguided occupation that Cheney helped to mastermind. Now, that country is disintegrating, torn apart by bloody sectarian warfare that was a foreseeable consequence of the ouster of Saddam Hussein. Yet, Cheney and his neocon allies have come out blasting Obama for Iraq’s woes.

Last week, Cheney and his chip-off-the-old-block daughter Liz published an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal that bears witness to their alternative reality universe.

“When Mr. Obama and his team came into office in 2009, al-Qaida in Iraq had been largely defeated, thanks primarily to the heroic efforts of U.S. armed forces during the surge. Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace. Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory,” they wrote.

That is breathtaking — stunning — in its deceit, its gall, its malevolence. Before George W. Bush invaded Iraq, al-Qaida in Iraq was just a jihadist fantasy. Deposing Saddam Hussein — a sadistic tyrant, but the glue that held together that fractious country — allowed terrorists to bloom.

Cheney’s ahistorical analysis reminds me of the old Soviet Union, where apparatchiks routinely erased previous party leaders out of photographs in an effort to persuade observers that they never existed. But evidence of the former vice president’s attempts to rewrite the past abounds. For example, a 2002 speech he delivered to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in which he was wrong about, well, everything:

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. … Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the region. … Extremists … would have to rethink their strategy of jihad. Moderates throughout the region would take heart. And our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced,” he said.

The Cheneys are not the only neocons on the rebound. They are joined by several discredited names from the past, including Robert Kagan, Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby. Indeed, Dick and Liz have launched a new fundraising group, The Alliance for a Strong America, to propel armchair hawks into political office.

No worries. The public is war-weary and wants nothing to do with further military interventions abroad. They are unlikely to win many converts.

But the damage the neocons did, not only abroad but also at home, lives on. The United States is left with a huge budget deficit, a result of Bush’s two wars with tax cuts, and thousands of veterans who still suffer severe physical injuries, significant emotional trauma or both. No one should be surprised that the Veterans Administration has had trouble keeping up with its caseload.

But that may not be the worst of it. Polls show that Americans’ trust in their government has fallen through the floor; in a recent survey, only 19 percent of people told Gallup they trust the “government in Washington” to do the right thing most of the time.

It’s probably no coincidence that the last time many Americans trusted their government was during the Bush/Cheney “war on terror.” They left us with a dangerous cynicism toward our democratic institutions.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker, Visiting professor at the University of Georgia; The National Memo, June 21, 2014

June 22, 2014 Posted by | Dick Cheney, Iraq, Neo-Cons | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Dick Cheney, Did You Really Want To Go There?”: He Was Wrong In Every Prediction He Made About The Iraq War

The infinitely valuable Yiddish word chutzpah is defined as “shameless audacity” or “impudence.”

It’s singularly appropriate for the astonishing op-ed from former vice president Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz that was published in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. It’s not every day that a leader of the previous administration suggests that the current president is a “fool” and accuses him of intentionally weakening the United States.

“President Obama seems determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch,” the Cheneys write. Are they charging our president with treason? “President Obama,” they write, “is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.”

Squandered our freedom?

“Only a fool,” they say, “would believe American policy in Iraq should be ceded to Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.” As if this is what Obama is doing — and as if it weren’t the invasion Cheney so passionately supported that vastly strengthened Iran’s hand long before Obama took office.

The Cheney polemic would be outrageous even if our former vice president’s record on Iraq had been one of absolute clairvoyance. As it happens, he was wrong in almost every prediction he made about the war.

On March 16, 2003, days before the war started, Cheney sat down with the late Tim Russert on NBC’s “Meet the Press” for what still stands as the most revealing of the prewar interviews. Cheney was adamant that “to suggest that we need several hundred thousand troops there after military operations cease, after the conflict ends, I don’t think is accurate. I think that’s an overstatement.”

“We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators,” he famously said and proceeded to play down the very sectarian divisions that are plaguing the country now. Russert asked: “And you are convinced the Kurds, the Sunnis, the Shiites will come together in a democracy?” Cheney replied quickly: “They have so far.” He went on:

“If you look at the opposition, they’ve come together, I think, very effectively, with representatives from Shia, Sunni and Kurdish elements in the population. They understand the importance of preserving and building on an Iraqi national identity. They don’t like to have the U.S., for example, come in and insist on dealing with people sort of on a hyphenated basis — the Iraqi-Shia, Iraqi-Sunni — but rather to focus on Iraq as a nation and all that it can accomplish as a nation, and we try to be sensitive to those concerns. I think the prospects of being able to achieve this kind of success, if you will, from a political standpoint, are probably better than they would be for virtually any other country and under similar circumstances in that part of the world.”

Ah yes, regime change would work out just fine — better than fine. “Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad,” Cheney had told the Veterans of Foreign Wars seven months earlier. “Moderates throughout the region would take heart.” Plus a bonus: “Our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced.” This was the war that would cure all that ailed us.

Thanks to the Cheney op-ed, we can see how Obama’s hawkish critics are out to create a double standard. Whenever they are called out for how mistaken they were about Iraq in the first place, they piously lecture against “relitigating the past” and say we must instead look forward. At the same time, many of them feel perfectly free to trash the president in extreme and even vile terms.

I am all for looking forward and trying to find an approach that squares the many contradictions we face: of needing to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria while also pushing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to stop pursuing anti-Sunni policies that are empowering the forces we need to turn back; of being on the same side as Iran in Iraq’s current emergency but on opposite sides over Syria; of wanting to avoid steps that will make things worse while not being paralyzed; and of not plunging into the middle of a Shiite-Sunni civil war while trying to stop the region’s descent into chaos.

Obama sees these contradictions and says he won’t act rashly. You don’t have to agree with Obama’s every move to prefer his prudence to the utter certainty that “we will be greeted as liberators” and to a habit of underestimating the costs of military action.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, June 18, 2014

June 21, 2014 Posted by | Dick Cheney, Foreign Policy, Iraq War | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Gall Of Dick Cheney”: His Whole Legacy Is Wrapped In Wrong And Written In Blood

The situation in Iraq is truly worrisome, as militants threaten to tear the country asunder and disrupt the fragile, short-lived period absent all-out war there.

We have strategic interests in preventing Iraq from unraveling, not least of which is that we don’t need the country to become a haven for terrorists, particularly those who might see America as a target.

And of course, there is the uneasy subject of oil: Volatility in the region has already sent global oil prices soaring. On Wednesday, militants were said to have taken control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery.

We have to tread carefully here. There are no saints to be seen in this situation. Everyone’s hands are bloody. And, we don’t want to again get mired in a conflict in a country from which we have only recently extricated ourselves.

As we weigh our response, one of the last people who should say anything on the subject is a man who is partly responsible for the problem.

But former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was in the administration that deceived us into a nine-year war in Iraq, just can’t seem to keep his peace.

In an Op-Ed published with his daughter, Liz, in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, the Cheneys write:

“Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”

This, from the man who helped lead us into this trumped-up war, searching for nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, a war in which some 4,500 members of the American military were killed, many thousands more injured, and that is running a tab of trillions of dollars.

During the lead-up to the war, Mr. Cheney said to Tim Russert: “I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators.” Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Even if it were indeed rare to be “so wrong,” as Mr. Cheney puts it, he was vice president in an administration that was much more tragically wrong. His whole legacy is wrapped in wrong.

At one point in the article, the Cheneys state:

“Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change. Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing.”

Mr. Cheney must think that we have all forgotten the scene from “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Michael Moore’s 2004 documentary, in which President George W. Bush, brandishing a club on a golf course, looks into the camera and says,

“I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you.”

That is quickly followed by, “Now, watch this drive,” and a shot of Bush swinging at the ball.

In fact, on one of the rare occasions that Mr. Cheney was actually right, in 1994, he warned about the problems that would be created by deposing Saddam Hussein:

“Once you got to Iraq and took it over, and took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place? That’s a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq you can easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. Part of it the Syrians would like to have to the west. Part of eastern Iraq, the Iranians would like to claim, fought over for eight years. In the north you’ve got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey. It’s a quagmire.”

That was quite prescient. And yet, the Bush administration pushed us into the Iraq war anyway, and the quagmire we now confront.

That’s why it’s so galling to read Mr. Cheney chastising this administration for its handling of the disaster that Mr. Cheney himself foresaw, but ignored.

I know that we as Americans have short attention spans, but most of us don’t suffer from amnesia. The Bush administration created this mess, and the Obama administration now has to clean it up.

The Cheneys wrote: “This president is willfully blind to the impact of his policies,” Mr. Cheney seemingly oblivious to the irony.

George W. Bush may well have been a disaster of a president (in a 2010 Siena College Research Institute survey, 238 presidential scholars ranked Bush among the five “worst ever” presidents in American history), but at least he has the dignity and grace — or shame and humility — to recede from public life with his family and his painting, and not chide and meddle with the current administration as it tries to right his wrong.

Mr. Cheney, meanwhile, is still trying to bend history toward an exoneration of his guilt and an expunging of his record. But history, on this, is stiff, and his record is c.

 

By: Charles M. Blow, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, June 18, 2014

 

 

 

 

June 20, 2014 Posted by | Bush-Cheney Administration, Dick Cheney, Iraq War | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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