Today was kind of a weird day for the Cheney clan. Pater familias Dick Cheney is getting hammered in the Libby trial, and there’s even discussion, yet again of Cheney’s possible resignation. I don’t put much stock in that – Cheney’s far too entrenched in the White House, basically dominating the foreign policy wing of the executive branch. Then again, I didn’t expect Rumsfeld to resign either.
Meanwhile, Cheney’s daughter writes an op-ed for the Washington Post reminding everyone that her sole qualification for being principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs is, well, being Cheney’s daughter. Josh Marshall summed it up best:
Is it just me or does this column read like it was written by someone in junior high?
The article is chock-full of disingenous and outright unethical claims that Democrats don’t want to win the war. Thank God, Cheney writes, we’ve got true heroes in the Democratic Party like Joe Lieberman to stand up for America. Oy.
The rest of the op-ed is so unbelievably insipid that I’m going to have to go after it in chunks.
· We are at war. America faces an existential threat. This is not, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi has claimed, a “situation to be solved.” It would be nice if we could wake up tomorrow and say, as Sen. Barack Obama suggested at a Jan. 11 hearing, “Enough is enough.” Wishing doesn’t make it so. We will have to fight these terrorists to the death somewhere, sometime. We can’t negotiate with them or “solve” their jihad. If we quit in Iraq now, we must get ready for a harder, longer, more deadly struggle later.
Never mind wondering what an “existential threat” is (perhaps something that Liz learned from the President in their Camus book club?). This point still doesn’t make any sense, French literature aside. How exactly does fighting insurgents in Iraq make us safer over here? Are all these insurgents really just exactly the same guys who are in terrorist cells around the world? The answers, of course, are “it doesn’t” and “no.”
· Quitting helps the terrorists. Few politicians want to be known as spokesmen for retreat. Instead we hear such words as “redeployment,” “drawdown” or “troop cap.” Let’s be clear: If we restrict the ability of our troops to fight and win this war, we help the terrorists. Don’t take my word for it. Read the plans of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Ayman Zawahiri to drive America from Iraq, establish a base for al-Qaeda and spread jihad across the Middle East. The terrorists are counting on us to lose our will and retreat under pressure. We’re in danger of proving them right.
On the other hand, continuing to remain in Iraq will continue to boost al-Qaeda’s recruitment numbers as they use our occupation of the country as part of their anti-US propaganda. It always severely weakens our military and limits our ability to engage terrorism where it poses a legitimate threat to us. Never mind that by fighting Sunni insurgents in Iraq, we’re indirectly providing support to Iran, which is supporting the radical Shiite element in Iraq. And again, let’s not try to think about the fact that as part of her job description while principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, Cheney was supposed to be an expert on this stuff.
· Beware the polls. In November the American people expressed serious concerns about Iraq (and about Republican corruption and scandals). They did not say that they want us to lose this war. They did not say that they want us to allow Iraq to become a base for al-Qaeda to conduct global terrorist operations. They did not say that they would rather we fight the terrorists here at home. Until you see a poll that asks those questions, don’t use election results as an excuse to retreat.
What the hell? That is the strangest interpretation of polling data I have ever heard. Yes, a poll that asks “Do you want the US to lose in Iraq,” “Do you support al-Qaeda,” “Do you hate America and other nice things,” etc., would probably get overwhelmingly negative responses. But what mentally fit adult could possibly ever take a poll with questions that loaded seriously?
· Retreat from Iraq hurts us in the broader war. We are fighting the war on terrorism with allies across the globe, leaders such as Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan. Brave activists are also standing with us, fighting for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the empowerment of women. They risk their lives every day to defeat the forces of terrorism. They can’t win without us, and many of them won’t continue to fight if they believe we’re abandoning them. Politicians urging America to quit in Iraq should explain how we win the war on terrorism once we’ve scared all of our allies away.
What about Iran? There is no doubt that an American retreat from Iraq will embolden Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, making it even less likely that the Iranian president will bend to the will of the international community and halt his nuclear weapons program.
A member of Lebanon’s parliament recently told me that Lebanese Sunnis, Shiites and Christians are lining up with Iran and Syria to fight against Sunnis, Shiites and Christians who want to stand with America. When I asked him why people were lining up with Iran and Syria, he said, “Because they know Iran and Syria aren’t going anyplace. We’re not so sure about America.”
How do our allies feel about the war in Iraq? Well, Musharraf thinks that it’s dangerously stupid, to say the least. As for Afghanistan, we were much less insistent about “finishing the job” there than in Iraq, and the shift of focus from stabilizing Afghanistan to invading Iraq goes a long way towards explaining Afghanistan’s subsequent descent into chaos and the resurgence of the Taliban. So my guess is that Karzai doesn’t have a very high opinion of the war.
And make no mistake about Iran: it is in Ahmadinejad’s best interests for us to remain in Iraq. I feel like we’ve been through this before, so here’s a relevant Matt Taibbi column.
· Our soldiers will win if we let them. Read their blogs. Talk to them. They know that free people must fight to defend their freedom. No force on Earth — especially not an army of terrorists and insurgents — can defeat our soldiers militarily. American troops will win if we show even one-tenth the courage here at home that they show every day on the battlefield. And by the way, you cannot wish failure on our soldiers’ mission and claim, at the same time, to be supporting the troops. It just doesn’t compute.
This op-ed was absolutely surreal, bizarre collection of some of the greatest hits of the Bush propaganda machine, untethered together by the slightest shred of logic and reason. That isn’t even the strange part, though. The weirdest part is just the general sense that it wasn’t actually written by an adult.