Friday, February 23, 2007

Cheney Turns Up the Arrogance

Cakewalk Cheney is trying to change the subject as the jurors continue to deliberate in the Scooter Libby trial (if anyone has doubts about what the issues are, see Why the Libby Trial Matters). Despite working secretly behind the curtain, Cheney's arrogance has been plain for all to see. I still recall on 9/11 when Cheney was challenged on his authority to tell Congress what to do, he said, "We have the helicopters." That's the kind of statement that invokes images of coups and not the kind of statement that respects three co-equal branches of government. There have been periods when Cheney has watched the tone of his statements, but in recent weeks, he clearly has turned up his arrogant rhetoric as the Libby trial got underway and as it becomes increasingly clear what a failure the Bush presidency is.

The International Herald Tribune has a Reuters story on one of Cheney's latest broadsides:
The U.S. vice president, Dick Cheney, expressed concerns Friday about China's military buildup, and he also questioned whether North Korea would follow through on its commitments in a recent nuclear deal.

In a speech in Sydney, Cheney also stressed the importance of U.S. forces' remaining in Iraq to stop "jihadists" gaining a base from which to spread violence across the Middle East.

(snip)

"The notion that free countries can turn our backs on what happens in places like Afghanistan or Iraq or any other possible safe haven for terrorists is an option that we simply cannot indulge," Cheney said in his speech.

I'm dumbfounded that Cheney would complain that some would turn their back on Afghanistan. That's exactly what the Bush Administration did as it turned to Iraq and gave us a war we did not need and let Osama bin Laden slip away while events in Afghanistan started sliding downhill. The inner circle of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld considered Afghanistan too small for their enterprise and put Afghanistan on the back burner to pursue a more ambitious and radical agenda that has done nothing for the United States except damage our country and our position in the world. Anyone who thinks the removal of Saddam Hussein was worth $2 trillion and the deaths that have resulted and the enormous damage done to our reputation and credibility is a fool, but Cheney thinks it was worth it. That's the nature of right wing authoritarians: they are usually the last to admit they were wrong. The reality is that Cheney's priorities are different than mine and different than those of most Americans.

And look at his arrogance towards the Chinese. We are the most powerful nation in the world but there are limits to our power and clearly Cheney and Bush are not doing such a hot job in Iraq. When you don't have much credibility, serious talks with our economic partners, as the Chinese clearly are, would be what's called for if there are issues to clear up. Instead, Cheney's arrogant posturing is not useful and simply reminds everyone of his poor judgment. Here's what James Fallows has to say in The Huffington Post:
What is clear is that the worst-positioned person to scold China about its behavior is the one who just did: Vice President Dick Cheney. In his speech yesterday in Australia, the Vice President helpfully observed that the satellite test, plus the buildup of China's military (with a budget still a tiny fraction of America's) was "not consistent with China's stated goal of a peaceful rise."

Let's assume, for argument, that China intends to convert its growing economic power into military strength. Let's assume that its strategic and territorial ambitions are at odds with America's. Let's assume that it intends to upset the international order in countless ways. Let's assume a lot of other things that I don't think are true.

Even if all those things were true, there could be no less effective spokesman for American concern or for the interests of international order than Cheney. This is the man who has refused to answer to his own public for -- well, for anything. For his insistence that everything has gone just as planned in Iraq. For his claim before the war that "There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." For his claim after the war that the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes." For his role, as described in prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's closing statement, as the central, unindicted malefactor in the Scooter Libby case. Even for shooting his friend in the face. ...

Dick Cheney, the man who is accountable for nothing, is the person who will tell other countries what is "consistent" with a peaceful image in the world?

If you haven't spent a lot of time outside the United States recently, you may not been made aware in a painful, humiliating way of how grievously America's moral standing has suffered because of Guantanamo, Abu Grahib, and the general carnage in Iraq. It's hard in general to get non-Americans to listen to lectures about seemly behavior these days. It's hardest of all when the lectures come from the man who, to the rest of the world, personifies America's squandering of the qualities that made it special.

It's been obvious for some time that the blunders by Bush and Cheney make it impossible for the United States to have much credibility when talking to other nations about any number of issues but particularly human rights. Any number of countries are still violating basic human rights and their answer to Bush or Cheney is very blunt and summed in two words: Abu Ghraib.

Did I mention that the Russians are concerned that we're in an arms race and that Stephen Hadley is having to ease their concerns? The most useful thing Dick Cheney can do for the American people is resign.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

"The inner circle of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld considered Afghanistan too small for their enterprise and put Afghanistan on the back burner to pursue a more ambitious and radical agenda . . ."

I strongly suspect Afghanistan's apparent lack of oil reserves is more a factor than the country's size.

Re: China, should we end up in a war with the PRC, heaven forbid, we will learn what country is the superpower to be reckoned with.

That's not just because we're likely to be unable to grow our military much, for lack of uniforms, shoes and a million other things now produced in China and not in the U.S.

The big thing will be that China has a unique ability to soak up punishment, even nuclear devastation, like a big, soft pillow. The PRC can sustain losses that would be catastrophic for any other nation and still field large, powerful armies, to be the last ones standing when the fallout-laden dust clears.

Re: Cheney's own special blend of ignorance, arrogance and sneering, self-satisfied bluster, he's the troll under the bridge to dealing effectively with international terrorism.

FWIW, I don't think Cheney is in Australia to buck up our ally about Iraq. I think he's there trying to line up a commitment for any war with Iran he and his sorcerer's apprentice president might decide to get us into.

3:34 PM  

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