Thursday, June 19, 2014

Defending Dick Cheney

Time for some in the GOP to stop wringing its hands over the Iraq War.

It was the right call and by 2009 was close to lasting stability.  Because of that, former Vice President Dick Cheney has every reason to speak from the high ground about Obama's failures there.

Imagine buying a junked car.  You give it extensive repairs with new parts, get it up and running.  It is relatively reliable if you do not put too much pressure on it and sensibly maintain it.

Then you sell it to an irresponsible owner who drives it for six years with no oil changes, no transmission service, no attention to coolant cleanliness or if it even has coolant.

What would you expect to happen?  The car would break down at the most inopportune time.

Iraq at the end of the Bush presidency had held free elections, despite terrorists' intentions to disrupt.  They had assembled a relatively democratic government.  Armed forces were being put together under the tutelage of the US military.  American troops remained in place, keeping terrorists at bay.  Advisers quietly urged the government towards good policy, albeit with mixed success.

Naysayers forget about the cruelty of Saddam, of his backing of terror, of his plans to leave his country's resources and military into the hands of his sadistic and psychopathic sons.  If that day had come, Iraq itself would be a dangerous source of instability in the region.

This Washington Post rebuttal of Cheney's thoughts on Obama and Iraq centers on the Bush Administration's original agreement to keep forces in Iraq until 2011.  It infers that Obama's task in renewing that agreement was impossible.  How hard did the president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even try?

The State Department's fixation on oceans for the past few years indicates that its priorities are a bit out of whack.

Over six years, Obama turned his back on the fragile, but still developing government.  He did not negotiate a status of forces agreement to keep US troops in place.  American soldiers are the best ambassadors of our system and our way of life, whether fighting for the Iraqi people or simply talking about the US every day. The enemy also fears US troops, knowing that engaging our soldiers brings a potentially heavy price for them.

Obama sent mixed signals to the Middle East.  President Bush followed the Reagan tradition of using confident expressions of freedom and liberty to inspire the world. Obama went over there and ruminated about mistakes and problems that historically pale in comparison to the good we have done.

His going to Canossa was the first step in destroying the respect carefully constructed by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice.

Many will point to complaints, demonstrations, social media rants as proof that American policy was wrong because we were not loved.  They have it wrong.  America needs to be not loved, but respected. Respected for our power and the principles behind its use.

Iraq today stands at the edge of the precipice.  Obama abandoned it to a cruel fate and now considers a rushed last minute rescue, not because it is the right thing to do, but because Iraq's failure would hurt his legacy even more.

America cannot be the world's policeman.  Some situations, however, do call for action. Iraq was one such issue.  Had Bush's successor maintained a foreign policy based on engagement and respect rather than golf and celebrities, Iraq and the Middle East would be on a much firmer foundation today.

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