Thursday, August 24, 2006

Is Cheney Behind Latest War Scare?

In the 2000 election, even Republicans admitted that Bush did not have foreign policy experience but it was thought that Bush's running mate would make up for Bush's shortcomings. It's become apparent, of course, that Vice President Dick Cheney's acumen is rather flawed; he was dead wrong about Iraq, as in 2,618 American deaths, at least 50,000 Iraqi deaths (including women and children), roughly 2 million refugees, a civil war and a budget deficit as far as the eye can see.

Four years ago, as the 2002 midterm elections were approaching, Cheney's remarkable powers of analysis told him with 'absolute certainty' that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was reconstituting its nuclear program despite a lack of evidence in the intelligence community and despite years of weapons inspections; Cheney stuck to his delusions and kept adding rationalizations despite another round of inspections that discovered nothing significant from the late fall of 2002 to just days before the war. Cheney's special powers of cherry-picking saw monsters under every rock where experts failed to see much of anything. It looks like Cheney's remarkable Hobbesian powers of analysis are at it again as he beats the war drums for war with Iran. These guys really do have trouble learning from their mistakes which repeatedly have turned into fiascoes and foreign policy failures.

Dan Froomkin of The Washington Post has a roundup of the Bush Administration's latest charade with Cheney's fingerprints clearly visible:
There is a popular sentiment among the Washington elite that what went wrong in the run-up to the war in Iraq has been sufficiently examined, and that it's all water under the bridge anyway.

It's popular in the White House and among Republicans for obvious reasons. But it's also remarkably popular among top Democrats and the establishment media, because they aren't all that eager to call any more attention to the fact that they were played for suckers.

There are, however, some people who believe that what led this country to launch a war of choice under false pretenses must be examined in detail -- over and over again if necessary -- until the appropriate lessons have been learned.

Otherwise, one might argue, history is doomed to repeat itself.

Enter history, stage right.

(snip)

Dafna Linzer writes in The Washington Post that the report was "principally written by a Republican staff member on the House intelligence committee who holds a hard-line view on Iran," and "fully backs the White House position that the Islamic republic is moving forward with a nuclear weapons program and that it poses a significant danger to the United States. . . . [I]it chides the intelligence community for not providing enough direct evidence to support that assertion."

Linzer writes that "the principal author was Frederick Fleitz, a former CIA officer who had been a special assistant to John R. Bolton, the administration's former point man on Iran at the State Department."

Translation: That means he's Vice President Cheney's man.

There's speculation that Frederick Fleitz may have played a small role in the outing of Valerie Plame. What's more important here is that Congressional Republicans are once again neglecting their oversight responsibilities. Allowing a Bush Administration figure to be the main author of such a report simply means that Congress is working with a carbon copy of Cheney's assessment instead of making an analysis on its own. Given Cheney's flawed analytical abilities, we cannot afford such a poor approach to such a serious issue. If Bush launches a third war, the consequences of attacking Iran will be much more serious than anything we have seen in Iraq; caught up in their own delusions, it's not clear that Bush and Cheney understand this.

I've been writing on the Iran issue for months now. For new readers, here's a short list:

Sy Hersh on Bush, Israel, Hezbollah and Iran

Bush and the Secretary of Defense

Brzezinski Weighs In on Middle East

Iran and Bush's Batting Average

Did Bush Almost Start a Third War?

Brzezinski Weighs In on Iran

Questions about Bush and Iran

Some Facts in an Era of Spin (January 21, 2006)

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