Even amid the summer’s health care debate ugliness, I knew there was something absent that prevented it from being intolerable, but I couldn’t place it. However, it all came rushing back to me when I looked over the headlines on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 22, which included several different variations of ‘Obama dithering on Afghanistan,’ I knew that the relative peace of the summer was over: Cheney’s back.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, following his acceptance of The Center for Security Policy’s (no joke) “Keeper of the Flame” award, gave a speech that can only be described as a full on assault on the Obama administration’s foreign policy.
“Having announced his Afghanistan strategy last March, President Obama now seems afraid to make a decision, and unable to provide his commander on the ground with the troops he needs to complete his mission,” Cheney said before an exceedingly friendly audience. “The White House must stop dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger.”
Dick Cheney’s speech was intended as a response to recent criticism from the White House regarding the sad state of affairs they inherited in January.
From Douglas K. Daniel of the Associated Press (via TPM), Oct. 21:
“When you go through all the analysis, it’s clear that basically we had a war for eight years that was going on, that’s adrift, that we’re beginning at scratch, and just from the starting point, after eight years,” [Rham] Emanuel said.
Cheney said the Obama administration seems to be pulling back and blaming others for its own failure to implement the strategy it had embraced earlier in the year.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, when asked about Cheney’s remarks, responded, “I think it’s interesting that what the vice president is suggesting the president isn’t acting on is what the previous administration didn’t act on.”
(See the full WH press conference HERE)
Vice President Joe Biden was right on when he responded to questioning about Cheney’s remarks. “I think what the administration is doing is exactly what we said it would do,” Biden said when asked about Cheney’s insinuation that the former administration’s policy review is somehow applicable to the present state of affairs in Afghanistan. “And that is making an informed judgment based upon circumstances that have changed.”
For certain, Cheney is not the only one pressing Obama to hurry his Afghanistan strategy. The Neo-Conservatives have taken to every media outlet that will have them; and, if they’re not talking about Afghanistan, they’re second guessing the president’s diplomacy with Iran, Russia, etc…
For reasons I find incomprehensible, media outlets — and not just Fox News, mind you — treat them as if their credibility isn’t completely lacking when it comes to matters of national security. That ship sailed months, if not years before Obama’s election.
Consider the scathing rebuke of Cheney issued by Gen. Paul Eaton (Ret.), senior adviser for the National Security Network:
The record is clear: Dick Cheney and the Bush administration were incompetent war fighters. They ignored Afghanistan for 7 years with a crude approach to counter-insurgency warfare best illustrated by: 1. Deny it. 2. Ignore it. 3. Bomb it. While our intelligence agencies called the region the greatest threat to America, the Bush White House under-resourced our military efforts, shifted attention to Iraq, and failed to bring to justice the masterminds of September 11.
The only time Cheney and his cabal of foreign policy ‘experts’ have anything to say is when they feel compelled to protect this failed legacy. While President Obama is tasked with cleaning up the considerable mess they left behind, they continue to defend torture or rewrite a legacy of indifference on Afghanistan. Simply put, Mr. Cheney sees history throughout extremely myopic and partisan eyes…
This was a commonly held belief among Obama supporters during the 2008 campaign. If nothing else, he was elected because he wouldn’t rush to judgment, particularly in matters involving the deployment of the military. Americans rejected Bush’s isolationist policy in electing Obama, opting for a policy of engagement. That fact is often drowned out in the media which feeds on the invented controversy.
Tell me what you think. Isn’t Gen. Eaton’s assessment, that the Bush/Cheney foreign policy was a disaster, the correct one?
Personally, I think Gen. Eaton was spot on. Further, I find it comforting that Obama is carefully deliberating his administration’s Afghanistan policy. Indeed, Eaton put it best, concluding, “No human endeavor can be as profound as sending a nation’s youth to war. I am very happy to see serious men and women working hard to get it right.”
David Corn, “Why Is Dick Cheney Helping Obama?” PoliticsDaily.com, 23 October 2009.
David Swerdlick, “Obamastan – Why the right is wrong about Obama and Afghansitan.” TheRoot.com, 23 October 2009.
Amy Beth Arkaway, “Cheney’s Singing The Same Tune: Bash’s Obama, Defends Bush Policy.” NewsJunkiePost.com, 23 October 2009.
Image from Flickr.com user World Economic Forum, by way of CreativeCommons.org