Friday, February 23, 2007

Dick Cheney - The "Blunder Down Under" Tour

What is it with Australia and Bush administration officials? No sooner is Gen. Peter Pace back from the "Denials" tour of the antipodes when Dick "draftdodger" Cheney launches his own tour to undermine the White House line.

Unheedful of his own administrations insistence that the US wants a peaceful resolution to its dispute with Iran over that nation's nuclear power program, Cheney insists that "all options are on the table" and, incidentally, comes out at odds with Bush's wish for the White House to appear neutral in the Republican presidential nominee race by endorsing John McCain and his view of foreign policy as war forevaaaah! (Maybe Cheney is why senior UK defense officials worry the rhetoric of a peaceful solution is just a cover for the coming attack.)

Unmindful of Bush's push of the recent North Korean nuke deal as a glorious victory for his administration, Cheney insists that he doesn't trust the North Koreans to keep their end of the deal. If the administration really thought that, then the whole deal would be a sham, a fake, a subterfuge to look like they were doing somehting, right? Way to undermine your (at least theoretical) boss, Dick!

Oh, and at the same time, Cheney picks on a recent Chinese anti-satellite test as a sure sign of Chinese belligerence.

Uncaring that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs recently described that very test thusly: "I would not directly tie that to a threat - it's a capability."

Then finally, just to close the show, Dick gives ABC the exclusive benefit of his wisdom on Global Warming:
I think there's an emerging consensus that we do have global warming. You can look at the data on that, and I think clearly we're in a period of warming. Where there does not appear to be a consensus, where it begins to break down, is the extent to which that's part of a normal cycle versus the extent to which it's caused by man, greenhouse gases, et cetera.
Uh, Dick? There's a hell of a lot more international consensus on global warming than there is on your narrative for war with Iran - and a hell of a lot more real evidence to boot!

Scientists need to reframe their White House briefings on warming. If they called it the WAR on Global Warming, Cheney would be right there.

Update The Carpetbagger reports on Dick's talent for ending up wrong even when he starts out right:
In a 1991 speech, Cheney delivered a rather defensive speech on the subject, noting the intense sectarian rivalries that dominate Iraqi society and the likely inability to maintain stability in Baghdad. As for replacing Saddam with a democracy, Cheney asked his audience, “How much credibility is that government going to have if it’s set up by the United States military when it’s there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for the government, and what happens to it once we leave?”

Cheney also said:
“The notion that we ought to now go to Baghdad and somehow take control of the country strikes me as an extremely serious one in terms of what we’d have to do once we got there. You’d probably have to put some new government in place. It’s not clear what kind of government that would be, how long you’d have to stay. For the U.S. to get involved militarily in determining the outcome of the struggle over who’s going to govern in Iraq strikes me as a classic definition of a quagmire.”
The ‘91 Cheney sure was smart, wasn’t he?

To his credit, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl sat down with Cheney in Australia today for a fairly wide-ranging interview, amd asked the Vice President about his remarks from 16 years ago. Cheney’s response was not reassuring.

Karl: Back in 1991, you talked about how military action in Iraq would be the classic definition of a quagmire. Have you been disturbed to see how right you were? Or people certainly said that you were exactly on target in your analysis back in 1991 of what would happen if the U.S. tried to go in —

Cheney: Well, I stand by what I said in ‘91. But look what’s happened since then — we had 9/11. We’ve found ourselves in a situation where what was going on in that part of the globe and the growth and development of the extremists, the al Qaeda types that are prepared to strike the United States demonstrated that we weren’t safe and secure behind our own borders. We weren’t in Iraq when we got hit on 9/11. But we got hit in ‘93 at the World Trade Center, in ‘96 at Khobar Towers, or ‘98 in the East Africa embassy bombings, 2000, the USS Cole. And of course, finally 9/11 right here at home. They continued to hit us because we didn’t respond effectively, because they believed we were weak. They believed if they killed enough Americans, they could change our policy because they did on a number of occasions. That day has passed. That all ended with 9/11.
If someone can explain how and why this makes sense, I’m anxious to hear it. White House critics like to joke about the Bush gang overusing “9/11 changed everything” as a rationalization that justifies anything, but Cheney’s comments today seem to be unusually vapid.

He “stands by” what he said in 1991? Maybe Cheney is confused about what the phrase “stands by” means, but it suggests he still agrees with the remarks he made when he insisted that invading and occupying Iraq would be a “classic definition of a quagmire.” In the next breath, however, there’s 9/11.

It seems, in all sincerity, that Cheney was arguing that the 9/11 attacks justify the quagmire he predicted 16 years ago. Why? Just because.
And Dean at the Road to Surfdom explains why this kind of blatant double-talk goes unchallenged by Cheney's interviewers:
It must be years since US Vice President Dick Cheney sat down for an interview with someone who wasn’t a kindly old friend or simply too terrified to actually ask him some tough, uncomfortable questions.

No big surprise then that Cheney’s main interview while in Australia was with journalist Greg Sheridan, who just happened to have backed the War On Iraq, through late 2002 and all through 2003 and 2004, with a white-hot fervour that threatened to spontaneously combust his heard.
Before pointing out what is "probably the most important thing Cheney has said in months, and all but confirms a War On Iran will begin with or without the support of the UN Security Council" :

Cheney also points out that 20 per cent of the world’s oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz and is vulnerable to Iranian military action.

Dean writes: "You can pin that quote to the fridge, because you are going to be hearing that reasoning for why a War On Iran is necessary a hell of a lot in the coming weeks". Just remember, it isn't about oil or the price of the gas in your tank would be lower - it's about the oil money.

Update Go check out Smintheus as he dissects Cheney's mad meanderings further - including Cheney's admission that there will never be an end to the terrorists in Iraq, but that he would be happy now if we could go back to the level of violence in Iraq of just a few months ago. That's the new definition of "victory", folks.

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