Friday, June 20, 2014

The Pathetic Figure that is Dick Cheney

Amy Davidson's New Yorker post spotlights the recent column by the Cheneys (Dick and Elizabeth) calling out Mr. Obama for not manning up and reinserting US forces into Iraq.  As Davidson puts it:

On Tuesday, Dick and Liz Cheney published a column in the Wall Street Journal suggesting that it was a shame and a failure that the American war—which the elder Cheney had helped start—had not gone on and on. American soldiers, they suggested, should be there right now. “It is time the president and his allies faced some hard truths: America remains at war, and withdrawing troops from the field of battle while our enemies stay in the fight does not ‘end’ wars. Weakness and retreat are provocative.”


In the Cheneys’ contorted diagram of history, going to war is itself a victory. They seem to see Iraq’s wreckage as a vindication of that war, not an indictment of it. It is difficult, otherwise, to explain their contempt for Obama’s withdrawal of troops. (“President Obama seems determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch.”) On this question, the Cheneys appear to be out of touch even with many in their own party. When Megyn Kelly, interviewing the Cheneys on Fox News, told Cheney that he had made a historic mistake in Iraq, he seemed startled enough to address her as “Reagan.” Perhaps the Cheneys and other conservatives do realize that the American public has come to view the Iraq War as a disaster, and have simply persuaded themselves that the only way to void that judgment is to get the war going again.

Sad, isn't it, that such a once-powerful public figure is utterly unable to imagine a world stage without American full-spectrum dominance.  Nor can he imagine - much less accept - that the actions he encouraged, and policies he advocated (torture, anyone?), merit his own disgrace and banishment from the cohorts of serious discussion.  (One might consider Tony Blair as a similar case in point.)

Watching CNN's broadcast special on the Vietnam War last night, I couldn't help noticing its serendipitous timing with a new  insertion (in this instance, re-insertion) of American military forces into a region whose cultural dynamics they and their leaders cannot comprehend, and into a conflict in which (contra Dick Cheney and John McCain) they cannot "prevail" (to borrow General Westmoreland's promise of almost 50 years ago). 

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