“That Was Our Policy,” Dick Said

“In war, truth is the first casualty.”

Aeschylus

sick to his Obama-hating core, Dick Cheney and his intellectual clone, daughter Liz, wrote an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal (“The Collapsing Obama Doctrine”) that featured this not-meant-to-be-ironic line:

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

In his final press briefing before leaving the Administration, Jay Carney was asked about that comment and replied,

Which president was he talking about?

But Harry Reid did one better. Today on the Senate floor he said:

If there’s one thing this country does not need, is that we should be taking advice from Dick Cheney on wars. Being on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is being on the right side of history. To the architects of the Iraq War who are now so eager to offer their expert analysis, I say…thanks, but no thanks. Unfortunately, we have already tried it your way and it was the biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of the country.

Now, it is common for those who championed the Iraq war to dismiss critics like Reid by rubbing in their faces that infamous vote in 2002 to go to war. Harry Reid, along with 28 other Senate Democrats including Hillary Clinton, did indeed vote in favor of authorizing military action against Iraq. But unlike Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primary, Reid isn’t afraid to say he was wrong. Today he told Sam Stein:

“Do you know how I feel about that?” Reid asked during a sit-down interview in his office with The Huffington Post. “I’m sure this is no big surprise,” he said, pausing for ten seconds before continuing in a muted voice: “What a mistake.”

“I should never have voted for that,” Reid went on. “But I accepted what [former Secretary of State] Colin Powell and the others said. But it took me just a matter of a few months to realize it was a bad mistake, and my record speaks for itself. I’ve spoken out against what was going on, not once, not twice, but lots of times. And I’m sorry that I was misled, but I was, and it was a mistake for me to vote for that war.”

Mistake, indeed. Heck, even sellevangelist and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson gets it now. So does the survivalist-baiter and gold-seller and slanderer Glenn Beck. But that Cheney-Cheney editorial never mentioned anything about pre-war mistakes, only alleged post-war ones. The Cheneys said not a word about misleading intelligence reports or faulty evidence. They did say, though, something that deserves more scrutiny:

When Mr. Obama and his team came into office in 2009, al Qaeda 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.

Leave aside that part about al Qaeda being largely defeated. Until our invasion of Iraq, there was no al Qaeda in Iraq to defeat. They came there to fight us. But did Obama abandon Iraq? You hear that all the time from those who want desperately for Obama to validate their monumental mistakes by continuing them, by keeping, I guess forever, American troops in a hostile environment like Iraq.

But I want to take you back to 2010, when a happier Dick Cheney, if there is such a creature, was basking in his Iraq “victory.” On ABC’s This Week, Jonathan Karl asked Cheney about Joe Biden’s foolish remarks in 2010 regarding how Iraq “could be one of the great achievements of this administration,” and Biden’s wise remarks about how “the war in Iraq was not worth it”:

CHENEY: I believe very deeply in the proposition that what we did in Iraq was the right thing to do. It was hard to do. It took a long time. There were significant costs involved.

But we got rid of one of the worst dictators of the 20th century. We took down his government, a man who’d produced and used weapons of mass destruction, a man who’d started two different wars, a man who had a relationship with terror. We’re going to have a democracy in Iraq today. We do today. They’re going to have another free election this March.

This has been an enormous achievement from the standpoint of peace and stability in the Middle East and ending a threat to the United States. Now, as I say, Joe Biden doesn’t believe that. Joe Biden wants to take credit — I’m not sure for what — since he opposed that policy pretty much from the outset.

KARL: I think what he wants to take credit for is taking resources out of Iraq, the fact…

CHENEY: That’s being done in accordance with a timetable that we initiated, that we  that we negotiated with  with the Iraqis. I mean, that was our policy.

Yes, that’s right. It was their policy. That was about the only thing Cheney got right in that exchange. Pulling out the way we did in 2011 was their policy. But now that things don’t look so good, it is suddenly Obama who “abandoned Iraq.” Horseshit. Just how long were we supposed to leave our troops there? A hundred years? A thousand?

I want to cite a right-winger (and senior staffer under Bush-Cheney) who said “George W. Bush warned that if America withdrew from Iraq, American troops would eventually have to return.” Yeah, well, he’s right. Bush did warn us about “withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready.” The problem is that Bush said that in 2007. And we stayed until 2011. And we left then because Bush, presumably because his commanders told him we would be ready, signed in 2008 the Status of Forces Agreement that Obama followed. Only in the strange brains of conservatives, most of whom were wrong about Iraq from Day One, can all of this mess be Obama’s fault.

But the Cheneys have a profound hatred for the President. Predictably, their tribute to family delusions that The Wall Street Journal eagerly published, came with this:

…President Obama seems determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch.

And to end their hit piece, the Cheneys wrote:

President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.

That is what it has come down to, ever since Barack Obama dared sit his pigmented posterior on the Bush-Cheney-stained furniture in the White’s House. Obama means to do the country harm. He is, as Liz Cheney said last year, “working to pre-emptively disarm the United States.”

Whenever I hear talk like that, I regret that the newly inaugurated President Obama didn’t start his first term by ordering his attorney general to investigate Liz Cheney’s dad for possible war crimes. That would have been one way that Obama could have proven to all Americans that rather than desiring to take America down a notch, his intention was to elevate our moral standing.

 cheney behind bars

13 Comments

  1. Troy

     /  June 18, 2014

    Fuck Cheney ! And all who still hold him in high esteem! Unbelievable! Wake up people!

    Like

  2. ansonburlingame

     /  June 19, 2014

    Dick Cheney is the only Secretary of Defense that lead America to a victory in a war, since WWII. Think about that point if you can. Rumsfeld was a major factor in losing the war in Iraq, after the initial and rather spectacular military feat (by historical measures) successfully invading Iraq. We lost that war after the statue came down, in my view and Rumsfeld was a major factor, along with inept military leadership, all trying to “put them on bicycles”! Whether history will teach that lesson is yet to be determined, in my view.

    Incidentally, Duane, I believe Hillary as well has now admitted that she was wrong to vote in support of invading Iraq.

    Was Truman wrong to send in the military into Korea? Were Kennedy and Johnson wrong to do the same in Vietnam? Was Bush I wrong to fight against Iraq in the First Gulf War, the only one we have won, hands down, since WWII.

    All you Dems think that if Gore had won in 2000 then we would have never invaded Iraq. You are probably correct in that assessment. But you nor anyone else can predict what would have happened had we not invaded Iraq, and Afghanistan for that matter. Dream on you dreamers. If in fact we are governed by “the people” then you have to account for the 80% approval rating at the time of the Iraq invasion as well. Why else did the likes of Hillary and Reid vote in approval of that invasion? Oh, I forgot!!! “Bush lied”, right???? Did Johnson lie about the Gulf of Tonkin? So what, right???? 6000 dead is a lot different than 55,000 by my way of counting.

    One other point, perhaps a question for liberals. Did America in 2003 have the POWER to invade Iraq in 2003. Yes it did. So why did we lose that war eventually? I would suggest a misapplication of available power, military, diplomatic and economic power. We had the ability to succeed had we treated Iraq as we did Germany and Japan after WWII, at least in my view. Sure you can argue that Iraq, as a Muslim country is different than Germany at least, but not Japan for sure. Whole different cultures, values, religions, etc. But with the proper application of available power, America westernized Japan to a great degree, at least in terms of geopolitical alignments, with America for some 70 years now.

    Today of course the world is different, particularly in terms of American power. Just look at Carrier Battle Groups. We are now down so low in just that one important metric of military power that we can’t even exert sufficient power in Syria, or Iraq, today, to achieve whatever American goals might be. Our economic travials alone keep that from happening now, much less the ability of any President to bring the American people into a battle of any sort.

    Finally, Obama has now put “boots on the ground” in Iraq today, new “boots” so to speak. Why? Simple answer. He does not want the green zone to turn into another Benghazi, which would happen in all likelyhood if the militants take Bagdahd in the coming months. I wonder how long before only “essential personnel” remain in that green zone and the rest flown out of town, but probably not from roofs in the green zone, I hope.

    All of us are seeing a decided change in American power and influence around the world today and it has been going on for much longer than the Obama or even Bush II administrations. The wheels of history turn slowly, regardless of what headlines scream each day. Our challenge today is to stop that decline, or go back to an America similar in nature to the one before WWI.

    I don’t know exactly when our power peaked, geopolitically. Maybe it was sometime during the Eisenhower administration, or maybe when the wall came down in Berlin as a direct result of Reagan’s final push against a tottering regime in the Soviet Union. But for sure American power today is only a shadow of what it used to be, like it or not.

    So what next, America? Further degrade our military power, focus on domestic issues, find some way to provide HC for all and forget the rest of the world. Or ……….

    I’ll be dead before all that plays out I supppose. But the trend is self-evident, to me at least. And the primary reason for that is lack of American unity. We can’t even agree on goals, much less how to muster the power, domestically or internationally, to achieve them.

    Anson

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    • King Beauregard

       /  June 19, 2014

      Aw, SOMEbody’s feeling defensive!

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    • Yeah, you’re right about not agreeing on things. Let me take this opportunity to challenge something you, and many others, say all the time: We “lost” the war in Iraq.

      Bullshit. What “war” there was, we won. The other side, and by that I mean the Iraqi military, did not put up much of a fight, so invincible were our forces. The problem was that the would-be Founding Fathers in the Bush administration failed to turn Iraq into an Arab version of America, complete with an appreciation for the virtues of democracy and power-sharing among people who otherwise don’t much like each other. In that sense, we not only lost, we lost because of many self-inflicted wounds, including thinking that all that was necessary for us to be greeted as liberators was doing away with the immediate problem in Iraq, Saddam Hussein, without realizing that the long-term problem was not something that American blood and treasure could solve.

      When I hear people say we lost the war, I feel sorry for the troops and their families, who most certainly did not lose any goddamn war in Iraq. As usual, arrogant and know-it-all politicians at home mucked it all up. In this case, they used the military in an ill-conceived plot to plant flowers of democracy in soil that, at least for now, is only capable of producing the thorns and thistles of ancient animosities.

      Duane

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      • ansonburlingame

         /  June 21, 2014

        Duane,

        If you really believe we won the war in Iraq then you would never criticize Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech. That is exactly what he was trying to say, “We won the “war” by successfully invading Iraq”. And he was saying it primarily to the “troops”. Thanks men and women of the armed forces, standing on the deck of a super carrier. And look at what happened as a result of that speech.

        Had we “won” WWII and Germany, France, etc. had become part of the Soviet Union I seriously doubt that history would say we “won WWII”. Doing the “right thing” with the conquered is part of “winning a war” now and always has been if you think about it.

        We won the invasion, hands down, but then ……. That is the result of inept political AND military leadership in my view and Bush for sure owns that one, historically. Could the “surge” have really bailed us out? Who knows now as Obama cancelled any long term benefit of that surge by pulling up ALL the stakes and leaving when he choose to do so, along with the vast majority of Americans.

        Mark my words, Duane, we are going to see the same things play out in Afghanistan.

        Finally, if you believe a decision not to invade Iraq would have turned out to be in the best interests of America in the long run I challenge you to tell me why that would have been the case. Sure you can guess, predict, make all sorts of assumptions, but they are just that, assumptions, which don’t count in the real world. For every assumption you make, I can counter it with a different assumption, showing a different outcome. You cannot write true history making assumptions.

        I will say again what I have long been saying. The decision to invade Iraq was made by about 80% of the American people and their representatives during a grave crisis. The military effort to invade should go down in history as a classic example of modern warfare, 150,000 men and women defeated, in three weeks, a large country with 5 times as many (or more) defenders over invaders. That particular mission was accomplished in historically successful terms. Sun Zu would be amazed as would Napoleon!!

        Then the botton fell out of that effort, period, politically and militarily and we have yet to reach the bottom, in Iraq and soon, Afghanistan.

        Remember a united America fought a long war against the Soviet Union. United, both Dems and GOP, America prevailed, based on the dominance of American Ideas along with considerable expense in lives and money, given over the long haul by both Dems and GOP.

        Today, such unity in America is a pipe dream and we don’t come close, now to having even the military power to succeed in such an effort, much less the unity in America for the long haul to victory of any sort.

        You claim one President alone caused all of that, the current situation in America. You could not be more wrong in my view.

        Anson

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        • King Beauregard

           /  June 21, 2014

          “Finally, if you believe a decision not to invade Iraq would have turned out to be in the best interests of America in the long run I challenge you to tell me why that would have been the case. Sure you can guess, predict, make all sorts of assumptions, but they are just that, assumptions, which don’t count in the real world. For every assumption you make, I can counter it with a different assumption, showing a different outcome. You cannot write true history making assumptions.”

          Translation: “YOU CAN’T PROVE A COUNTERFACTUAL SO NEENER NEENER NEENER”.

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        • No, no, no. That banner didn’t say “Invasion won!” It said “mission accomplished.” The “mission,” as we know now, was to rebuild Iraq as a American-style republic and then all of heaven would open up on the Middle East and a thousand democratic flowers would bloom everywhere. 

          My point in all this is that we are damned good at war. We are masters at it. But we suck at what was attempted in Iraq, and later by Obama, in Afghanistan. We aren’t experts at building nations, even our own. It sort of evolved out of some cobbled together ideas by some smart guys and with a lot of luck and time and effort by those on the left (yep, getting rid of slavery was a liberal idea, as was extending voting rights and providing social insurance), it is a pretty good example of how nations should, if they are so inclined, govern themselves.

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  3. ansonburlingame

     /  June 19, 2014

    After posting the above pessimistic comment I read the following from the “foreign policy” web site.

    ” Forces Battle Over Oil Refinery as Iraqi Government Requests U.S. Airstrikes

    Forces Battle Over Oil Refinery as Iraqi Government Requests U.S. Airstrikes

    Iraqi government forces battled militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and allied fighters over control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery in Baiji. ISIL-led militants launched an attack on the Baiji refinery early on Wednesday and some workers said the militants had seized control of most of the facility. On Thursday, a government spokesman said its forces were in “complete control” of the refinery, however a witness noted ISIL fighters were still in the area and that clashes were continuing. On Wednesday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshya Zebari appealed to the United States “to launch air strikes against militants.” General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said incomplete intelligence in Iraq would make “an air campaign more difficult” meanwhile Gen. David Petraeus, who served as the top commander in Iraq, said, “This cannot be the United States being the air force of Shia militias or a Shia on Sunni Arab fight.” Washington is indicating that it wants Iraq to form a new inclusive government without Maliki, however a spokesman for the prime minister said he would not resign as a condition for U.S. airstrikes. ”

    For sure former General Petraeus has that call right, in my view. Obama owns this one lock, stock and barrel now. No “blame it on Bush” at this point, for sure.

    Anson

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    • I think General Petraeus, in this case, does have it about right. But his position is essentially the same as President Obama’s. It’s just hard for some on the right to admit that, however. In any case, you ended with,

      Obama owns this one lock, stock, and barrel now.

      What? Have you been snorkeling with that Fox bong again? George Bush and Dick Cheney will, forever and ever and ever and ever and ever, own whatever bad happens in Iraq. The only thing that Obama or any future president can do is try to mitigate the damage or, Allah willing, make things better. Again, though, the president you supported, and his now-creepy vice president, will always be associated with the worst aspects of this disaster, from thousands of dead and wounded Americans to many more thousands of dead and wounded Iraqis, not to mention the trillions that will have been squandered on this debacle before it is all over.

      None of you, at least as long as I can peck on a keyboard, will get to shift the blame to President Obama without being called out for such an outrageous and self-evidently false claim.

      Duane

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  4. kabe

     /  June 22, 2014

    George Bush must be so thankful for Dick Chaney’s recent antics. Bush has conducted himself with much class since leaving office. The only person capable of making people forget about Bush and taking some of the heat off him is Chaney. And he is not disappointing, at least from W’s perspective. History will NEVER be kind to Cheney, he is only digging himself deeper.

    Kabe

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    • You are right about Cheney. Heck, he doesn’t have to wait for history to condemn him. He’s very unpopular right now.

      I don’t know how classy Bush has been, but at least he has been fairly quiet. It would have been nice, though, to hear from him when his party was going off the deep end with things like the shutdown and impeachment of Obama and the “Obama is a traitor” nonsense. But, hey, he has a lot of painting to do before his time is up.

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  5. Seems to me that discussions on the subject of war, like this one, make no progress against “conservative” thinking. Or at least against Anson’s thinking, given that he’s one of the few of his political persuasion who deigns to participate in them. I have to give him credit for persistence, I guess, although his arguments seem stubbornly immune to new realities. A lot of stuff has changed in the last 70 years, but conservative thinking isn’t keeping up.

    “War” is not what it was, yet they are determined to treat it in the same way as before, and despite Anson’s insistence, defeated Iraq is nothing like defeated Japan. Japan had a cohesive and uniform culture/religion. Iraq had (and has) three, each detested by the others. This should have been obvious to anyone who could read, much less to the CIA and Condoleezza Rice. Going to war to remake Iraq in the American image was the purest hubris. The Vietnam war should have taught us that if nothing else.

    Anson asked if Vietnam and Korea were mistakes. I submit that they were, both of them. The Domino theory, that Communist China was on track to conquer all of Asia including the Philippines and Australia, was wrong, and what powered it was the demagoguery of fear, the same thing that powered the disastrous second Iraq war. Ironically, Vietnam and China are now at loggerheads with each other over territory in the South China Sea.

    I am convinced that the motivation to war in the Bush II administration was not fear of another 9/11, but fear of an unstable oil market. “Shock and awe” was a slam dunk. Failing to foresee the aftermath and the religious war: unforgivable. Greed was part of it too – Iraq is the second largest source of oil in the Middle East. Think Halliburton and the piling on of government “contractors” with virtually open government coffers. Wrapping themselves in the flag and going to war was politically the easy way out, much easier than trying to tell the nation the truth. That would have come down to something like this:

    This is a struggle than can not be solved easily or quickly. It involves conflicting, ages-old ethnic and religious hatreds which are probably not resolvable by a third party like us. Mediation will likely take decades of patience during which we will probably be attacked again, even though tough policing can diminish such attacks. Our best course in this problem is not to rebuild nations but to become energy independent, even though that will involve some economic sacrifice by all Americans. It is time, here in the atomic age and committed to a global economy, that we recognize the lessons of the past and reserve our military might for defense, and defense only.

    No, the other way was much easier. “We have identified the bad guy and we’re going to make him pay for 9/11. His name is Saddam Hussein.” The Military Industrial Complex was delighted. (Pay no attention to the crazy little creep in North Korea who is supplying arms to our enemies and is about to light off a nuke. He’s just a distraction.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • The “little creep” says that movie about him is “the most undisguised terrorism and a war action to deprive the service personnel and people of the DPRK of their mental mainstay and bring down its social system.” And I thought only conservatives felt that way about Hollywood…

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