Cheney is a chickenhawk and an embarrassment.
In friendly confines at the American Enterprise Institute
The Daily Show last Thursday provided an utterly devastating satire of Cheney. Trust me, you’ve never seen anything like it on TV, the hardest punch I’ve seen Stewart land in the three years I’ve been a regular watcher…go here and view “Weakened Update”.
Though he backed off a bit during today’s American Enterprise Institute speech, Vice President Cheney has been on a tear recently against critics of administration policy of endless war. Here was last week’s flavor.
Vice President Cheney (Nov. 16):…the suggestion that’s been made by some U.S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of this administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city….We’re going to continue throwing their own words back at them….
American soldiers and Marines are out there every day in dangerous conditions and desert temperatures â€“- conducting raids, training Iraqi forces, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers â€“- and back home a few opportunists are suggesting they were sent into battle for a lie….
The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone -â€“ but we’re not going to sit by and let them rewrite history….
Vice President Cheney (Nov. 21): Recently my friend and former colleague Jack Murtha called for a complete withdrawal of American forces now serving in Iraq, with a drawdown to begin at once. I disagree with Jack and believe his proposal would not serve the best interests of this nation. But he’s a good man, a Marine, a patriot — and he’s taking a clear stand in an entirely legitimate discussion.
Nor is there any problem with debating whether the United States and our allies should have liberated Iraq in the first place. Here, as well, the differing views are very passionately and forcefully stated. But nobody is saying we should not be having this discussion, or that you cannot reexamine a decision made by the President and the Congress some years ago. To the contrary, I believe it is critical that we continue to remind ourselves why this nation took action, and why Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, and why we have a duty to persevere.
What is not legitimate — and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible — is the suggestion by some U. S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of his administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence.
Cheney is a jackass. And he is a chickenhawk. He does not get anywhere near the truth that the struggle for American pacification of an unwilling Iraq is devastating along with the Iraqi civilian population, towns, cities, and countryside, the US military itself. He suggests in a backhanded way that critics of the war, and of Bush and Cheney themselves, have an “insidious” effect on the war effort. No. It is the policy of fighting an illegal and unethical war that has such an effect on the Iraqi and the American people alike.
Murtha’s remarks about the effects of the war on Iraq and the American military itself damningly lay bare the sophistry of Dick Cheney’s arguments. Christopher Dickey has an excellent post on Murtha, who has called for American withdrawal from Iraq over a six-month time frame.
Murtha: I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.
Remarks by former Special Forces soldier and Vietnam Veteran Stan Goff in Orono, Maine last week reached back to an earlier war and resonate along with Murtha’s.
Stan Goff (Nov. 15): I don’t think any of us want to get to the point where we can clearly demonstrate that Iraq is Vietnam. We don’t need another wall with 58,000 more names on it. We don’t need another generation that melts down in the face of this war. And we’re already seeing it happen….Some of us who have lived to my age, or maybe even a little older â€“ we were so hopeful that this would never happen again â€“ that we would never do this to another generation of young people…. And we’re doing it right now,… you know,… we’re doing it right now. We’re killing ‘em, we’re maiming ‘em, we’re sending ‘em home crazy. And we’re not doing anything for ‘em when they get back. It’s the same thing again.
And I don’t want to see the end to this occupation be the same as it was in Vietnam, because the price of getting out of Vietnam was too high for everybody involved. Don’t need to be three million dead of anybody [as died in the Vietnamese civilian population during the war]. We don’t need to see an entire generation wrecked.
One of the reasons â€“ one of the principle reasons â€“ aside from the fact that we were militarily defeated by an anti-occupation force that had made up their minds not to quit until they expelled us. One of the reasons, one of the decisive reasons was that by 1971 the United States military in Vietnam had been destroyed as an effective fighting force. Fifty percent of us were strung out on heroine â€“ in my unit â€“ fifty percent. We were shooting our officers…. It would be immoral to wait until it gets that far again. But that’s where, that’s inevitably where, it will end up by and by if they continue on the same course that they’re on right now. We hear Dick Cheney talking about “decades” â€“ plural, decades â€“ is what our commitment is gonna be over there.
That Cheney won’t touch these facts about the slow, painful destruction of using the American military for unsuccessful pacification of 25 million Iraqis is telling.
History is lost on the squirming Cheney. Let’s look back to the original case for the war. No administration official told the public pre-war that it would be a “long, hard slog” that would require “decades”. Any reasonable person can see the distortion and equivocation evident in voluminous pre-war remarks by Bush, Cheney, and many other administration officials. Then, they spoke of a “cakewalk” and greetings of “liberators”. They had an army of equivocators selling a war that could not have been sold if a picture of the current foreseeable truth of what the war has become properly had been aired.
For example, Cheney addressed the VFW with this unqualified certainty:
Vice President Cheney (Aug. 26, 2002): 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. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors — confrontations that will involve both the weapons he has today, and the ones he will continue to develop with his oil wealth. [emphasis added]
Or how about this:
President Bush, (March 6, 2003): Saddam Hussein has a long history of reckless aggression and terrible crimes. He possesses weapons of terror. He provides funding and training and safe haven to terrorists — terrorists who would willingly use weapons of mass destruction against America and other peace-loving countries. Saddam Hussein and his weapons are a direct threat to this country, to our people, and to all free people.
Or how about the unreconstructed Cheney, who as late as January 2004 was still issuing canards about Curveball’s phony “Winnebagoes of Death”:
Vice President Cheney (Jan. 22, 2004): We know, for example, that prior to our going in that he had spent time and effort acquiring mobile biological weapons labs, and we’re quite confident he did, in fact, have such a program. We’ve found a couple of semi trailers at this point which we believe were, in fact, part of that program. Now it’s not clear at this stage whether or not he used any of that to produce or whether he was simply getting ready for the next war. That, in my mind, is a serious danger in the hands of a man like Saddam Hussein, and I would deem that conclusive evidence, if you will, that he did, in fact, have programs for weapons of mass destruction. [emphasis added]
The canard about “everybody agreed” on the conclusions from the intelligence was again in full view today in the Vice President’s speech:
Vice President Cheney (Nov. 21): They concluded, as the President and I had concluded, and as the previous administration had concluded, that Saddam Hussein was a threat. Available intelligence indicated that the dictator of Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and this judgment was shared by the intelligence agencies of many other nations, according to the bipartisan Silberman-Robb Commission. All of us understood, as well, that for more than a decade, the U.N. Security Council had demanded that Saddam Hussein make a full accounting of his weapons programs. The burden of proof was entirely on the dictator of Iraq — not on the U.N. or the United States or anyone else. And he repeatedly refused to comply throughout the course of the decade.
Even if this is all true, the emphasis on urgency and need for preventive action was engendered through false claims about “nuclear weapons within a year”, and sneak attacks “in 45 minutes”. In 2002, a minority of politicians could resist these specious arguments. So, yeah, a lot of senators and representatives went along with abdication to Bush on Iraq in October 2002. And the further canard about Security Council “demands” and “accounting” deserves fuller examination. In the end, the Security Council refused to consider a war resolution. The arguments used to declare the war legal remain on extremely shaky ground, as the Goldsmith memo shows.
So how is it so hard for the indignant chickenhawk to understand that most reasonable people would interpret the very definite language in the pre-war period as deliberate distortion and falsehood — especially when it becomes clear that there were voluminous pre-war doubts about every major element of the case the administration presented. It is legitimate to say the “administration purposely misled the American people”. Maybe they told the truth about what the faulty intelligence said, but they completely concealed all of the doubts about it. Absence of doubt is what drove the argument for preventive action. Falsification by omission is falsification.
It is far more accurate to state that widespread doubt existed pre-war about Iraq’s possession of WMD than to state that “everybody agreed” that Iraq did in fact have weapons that very likely were about to be used. The common anti-war slogan, “Bush lied and people died” is a lot closer to the truth than the phony pronouncements of the jackass, chickenhawk Dick Cheney.