Cheney on the Quagmire

Well, we can sure see the broken eggs. When do you think we’re going to see the omelette?

Now, I just got this off a New York Times editorial by Herbert, haven’t been able to verify…

Are we given to understand this is the “conventional wisdom” about this “catastrophic success”? Has anyone in the WH come forward to rebut, clarify, or modify this?

Maybe I’m off base here. Maybe I should react to that with calm aplomb, rather than doing a Munch impression. Mr. McCain certainly seems to think so, it goes on…

Goody gumdrops. If I take good care of myself, and things work out just right, I might have grandchildren serving in Iraq. Not “occupying”, of course, but “liberating” in a more or less permanently.

Oh, happy day.

Just a guess, but one possible explanation is that the differences between 1940’s Germany and Japan and 21st cetnury Iraq are greater than the few vague similarities provided above.

Well I am not the poster in question but I found the omelette comment a meaningless one-size-fits-all platitude. It may also suggest to some that you are trivializing the significant problems caused (and now faced by) this administration, in an attempt to excuse and even justify their blunders.

Besides, as someone else mentioned, there are broken eggs aplenty but no omelette yet in evidence.


Bull. It was true that Saddam is a supporter of terrorism, and no matter how much people try to narrowly focus on the WMDs that were never found or the al-Qaeda links which were tenuous, it’s still in keeping with the Bush doctrine that regimes that support terrorism need to be eliminated.


and Abe:

Well, at the risk of becoming type-cast as “Mr. Pithy Saying,” I’ve got to respond…

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

To all of you: Ultimately, I’m not even trying to debate the ultimate correctness of waging war and performing nation-building on Iraq. That’s been re-hashed a ton of times here over the past two years. My point in this thread has been that it’s entirely reasonable for someone to have thought before 9/11 (when there seemed no imminent danger to America from foreign terrorists) that it was better to leave Saddam in power (where he would be sponsoring terrorists) and millions of Iraqis under his thumb (in the kind of situation that breeds terrorists) than to get involved in the messy business of creating a new Iraqi government, and to have changed his mind afterward.

My original “so what”? was not referring to the messiness and loss of life of the Iraq war, but expressing a lack of surprise over Dick Cheney’s shift in thinking, with 9/11 having occurred in between.

Except for the minor detail that, as Bush and Cheney etc. already knew, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Surely you’ve heard something about that.

Iraq was a sponsor of terrorism? Only to the extent of adding a little to what the Saudis were paying Palestinian families. Saddam certainly wasn’t trying to sell nuclear technology, unlike Pakistan. Yet, those countries are our *allies * in the war *against * terrorism? The amount of fact-filtration required to hold the view you expound is impressive.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day”, huh? Do you want to get into discussing just how successful the plan has been, or can be expected to be, or even what it is? Or are the silly proverbs enough to satisfy yourself, if no one else?

What terrorism was Saddam Hussein involved with? His payments to the families of suicide bombers? Compared to what the Saudis and Pakistanis did, that was chicken scratch.

And at risk of being named pithy responder to pithy responses:

No, but it burned in one night.

Except that Bush and his posse of sissy hawks had been told that bin Laden was an issue. Hell, I knew that he was an issue, and I’m about as far out of the loop as you’re gonna find. So they knew damned good and well that the issue of terrorist attacks on the continental US was at the very least a possibility. Imminence seems a given from where I sit.

The Bush administration’s claim to hold any such doctrine is a stupid lie. Since the administration does not in fact differentiate in its treatment of foreign states depending upon their support of terrorism in any sort of consistent manner, it’s nonsense to claim any such doctrine exists outside the imaginations of Bush and his most fervent supporters. The Bush administration has “eliminated” one regime, which had only the most insignificant links to terrorism (Iraq) and has tried to eliminate another that actually did support terrorism, but got distracted from that by Iraq (Afghanistan.) If the Bush administration had a legitimate interest in eliminating terrorism-supporting regimes, they would have gotten the job finished in Afghanistan, and Iraq would have been way, way down on the list. Instead, states that are far deeper into terrorism than Iraq ever was get U.S. support. There’s no “doctrine” in place here.

This “Narrow focus” on WMDs isn’t the narrow focus of critics of the war. It was the stated reason of the people who STARTED the war.


And I admitted to it. Surely you heard something that the Bush administration - whether or not you agree with this strategy - stated a doctrine to go after all terrorist-supporting states, not merely those connected specifically with 9/11 and/or al-Qaeda.

In fact, you must have registered that fact, because the relevant response is in your next paragraph…

Try the other way around. Saddam was giving the suicide bombers’ families FIVE TIMES as much as the Saudis were giving them.

Pakistan wasn’t trying to sell it either; that Khan guy was not a repesentative of the Pakistani government.

Yes, they’re our allies, because they a) before 9/11 they had no history of belligerence toward us, and b) after 9/11, they rolled over to every demand we made. The same could not be said of Saddam.

Quite frankly, no, because I haven’t been meaning to debate the overall Iraq war here. My point has merely been, in response to the OP, that contrasting his Gulf War I remarks with the actions of the administration he’s currently a part of is not an indicator of hypocrisy or political flip-flopping (if those aren’t the same thing).


See above, re: your first paragraph.

Touche. Still, to condemn the general course of action in Iraq because a stable post-Saddam government hasn’t yet been established less than 18 months after his downfall is a bit too soon for me to ask “where is the omelet?”

That’s quite a leap, friend. Bin Laden was definitely a threat, but the threat was expected to be directed against American targets in foreign lands like the ones he had already hit (embassies, 1998, Cole, 2000). While better coordination of intelligence might have unearthed the plot before it came to fruition (as we’ve since discovered), the notion that he represented a threat to targets on American soil was far-fetched indeed, and contrary to what we knew of his M.O…

The fact that it was a transparent rationalization doesn’t bother you as long as you can call it a “doctrine”? Doesn’t the fact that Bush has by no means followed it consistently tell you otherwise?

Therefore he was five times as much a “supporter of terrorism” in general? The dividing line between invading a country and making it your ally is, where, somewhere between 1 and 5, then? That’s a fucking doctrine?

Nor was Musharraf doing a fucking thing about it, nor can we be confident that Khan wasn’t to some degree a sacrificial lamb of Musharraf’s. It’s hardly like that was news.

Belligerence? The “Bush Doctrine” merely requires that a country be a “threat”, even *before * it becomes “belligerent”. If Pakistan has rolled over, where is their help in finding Osama, who may well even be there? If SA has rolled over, why are they working with Bush to get the US troops out of there?

Yet that is the central issue of the Bush Administration, and you most certainly have tried to place it in the context of a clear, broad, consistent global strategy. If that view of yours is not consistent with the facts, as you’ve been shown, then its up to you to reconcile it.

Is it fair, then, to ask what signs of progress you do see that lead you to that being the most reasonable conclusion? Sure it’s fair. Enlighten us, please.

Oh, yeah, that briefing for Bush was “historical information” only. Spare us.

Damnit, once again what ElvisL1ves said. And because it bears repeating, “that Khan guy” as you refer to him worked for the Pakistani government. How much more representative did he need to be? Too, he’s still quite the hero for making Pakistan nuclear. And you are welcome to claim that he was a loose cannon or a free radical, but that’s a position that must be straining your fingernails.

And just like ElvisL1ves, I think that you’re straining at gnats in order to claim that, “the notion that he represented a threat to targets on American soil was far-fetched indeed, and contrary to what we knew of his M.O.” It was not far fetched. It was, as a matter of fact, covered in that great handover fun that took place in early 2001. Bush and the sissy hawks ignored it, just as they either ignored or took the opposite tack on anything that could be traced to the Clinton White House.

And just like so many, I too am curious as to when we can at least expect to see some of those broken eggs start to congeal so that they will eventually start to form something that kinda looks like it possibly might be an omelet. Because so far, there’s been naught but eggshells.

Elvis & GL:

It’s a doctrine because that’s what he declared, as a general policy direction, in his speeches following 9/11 and his SOTU address the following January.

What does consistency mean to you? Attacking every target that meets the criteria simultaneously, as if we had an infinite army? Attacking countries that did an about-face and agreed to help us, even though they formerly had a history of support for terrorists?

He formulated a policy, and began to implement it by going after the most accessible and least cooperative target. Countries that were willing to abandon terrorist-friendly policies needed no military force to persuade them.

Hell, no, it’s just pointing out that you’re wrong. Iraq’s support for Palestinian suicide bombers wasn’t a mere drop in the bucket, especially given that you were citing Saudi Arabia as a comparison. It was very substantial. If the US is going to make terrorism an less promising-looking venture for Arab families, the place to strike is the guy offering 25,000, not the ones offering 5,000. So even if Saudi Arabia was uncooperative regarding the terror war - which it hasn’t been - Iraq is still logically first in line.

True, but you have no proof that he was, either.

But in assessing threat-level, part of that is a history of anti-American belligerence. I mean, France has nuclear weapons too, and for all Bush’s animus toward the French, no one expects him to attack them.

They’ve helped capture a heck of a lot of al-Qaeda, including that laptop kid. If Osama is harder to get one’s hands on, it’s hardly a shock. The leader is always the best protected.

Since when is getting US troops out of Saudi Arabia contrary to the goal of fighting terrorism?

First of all, it is consistent, as I’ve answered your questions above. Second of all, my point in entering this thread in the first place was that it’s not inconsistent for Dick Cheney to have shifted in his thinking between the first Gulf War and now. And pointing out preceived inconsistencies in execution of the war on terror does not contradict that.

Well, let’s see: Iraqis are no longer living in fear of Saddam Hussein, for one. A government has been established that is not hostile to the USA. The top Shi’a cleric, highest religious authority for some 60% of Iraqis, is working alongside it to help establish its legitimacy.

Sure, there are insurgents and violence. Day-to-day life is not what you’d call calm. But overall, I’d consider the above to be steps toward establishing a democracy in Iraq.

Who said “historical”? All I’m saying is that given what we knew of Bin Laden’s operations, there was no reason to think that he had the ability or the guts to strike at the USA. He used bombs…but the American mainland was protected against bombs. Sure he WANTED to, but that doesn’t mean that 9/11 could have been anticipated just based on that briefing.

So, what real progress have we seen in this war on terror as far as the Iraq doctrine is concerned? All I see is significant amounts of terrorism now imported and/or generated in Iraq, as well as a radicalizing polarized world – all as a result of Bush and co breaking a lot of eggs over Saddam. These negative effects were not unheralded, so I don’t think you can apologize for Bush on that front – and the Misleader’s warbling on “catastrophic success” sounds even more foolish than his standard output, rank post hoc rationalizations for an idiotic doctrine executed without essential planning.

Attacking Iraq was just about the most ineffectual (and expensive, and even counter-productive) thing to do to fight terror. There was simply no terror there, no weapons of terrorism, and no capacity to plan or engage in terrorist attacks. At the most, and that is at the most, Saddam may be criticized for supporting the families (not the attacks) of Palestinian militants and activists killed in Israel. 25,000 was the highest amount paid out and happened once that I know of, otherwise the standard sums were 5-10,000.

There is no evidence I am aware of that this Iraqi money ever went into anything other than rebuilding homes demolished by Israeli soldiers, rearing orphaned or fatherless children, and generally helping to alleviate the plight of a people that fellow Muslims and/or Arabs strongly sympathize with (and often feel an obligation to help). The money was not to our knowledge going to militants, or towards the purchase of weapons and explosives, the hiring of expertise, etc. These donations were acts of charity to families, however questionable you, Israel, or the US may find the qualification process. If this is all you have on the whole “sponsoring terrorism” line, then you have an indefinite wait ahead of you for that omelette.

Just words. What a man believes is shown by his actions, which brings us to:

Come on. Simple prioritization. Go after the most-immediate threats first, assuming it really is a doctrine. Make sure that countries that claim to be supporting us really are doing so. Defining what “support” means.

You get mugged by the neighborhood bully, so you retaliate against the little kid across the street who never liked you anyway?


I may have had the numbers wrong, but not the concept - that’s your shortcoming. Paying families of Palestinian bombers is *not * synonymous with the far, far broader topic of support of terrorism, even if one does dismiss Palestinian nationalists as simply terrorists - unless one is looking at the terrorism problem primarily as being one of threats to *Israel * instead of threats to the US, perhaps? The major anti-US terrorism act was 9/11 and Iraq had fuck-all to do with it, for instance. Saudi Arabia provided most of the hijackers, and even contributed to their moral education by subsidizing the Wahhabi madrassas. Claiming SA has not been uncooperative, btw, is not an assertion based on fact.

True, but you’re the one asserting that Pakistan was not a supporter of terrorism and has since stopped being one anyway.

Fair enough, but then we’d better buckle up - we have a large part of the world angry or at least worried about Bush’s belligerence, and we’d better hope they don’t apply the “Bush Doctrine” themselves, right? North Korea seems to have understood, for instance.

I’ll hold to my skepticism about how significant the captured really have been, regardless of Bush’s claims. It would help a great deal to have any sort of confidence that any sort of progress was being made in locating Osama, although that would naturally be secret. But if we’re confident he’s either in Pakistan itself or right next door, Pakistan’s results seem pretty meager, don’t they?

[qutoe]Since when is getting US troops out of Saudi Arabia contrary to the goal of fighting terrorism?
If we’re looking for terrorists in the Middle East, any restriction on basing forces inhibits us militarily. Plus, isn’t getting the infidels out of the Land of Muhammad one of Osama’s principal goals?

First, you have provided answers, but not fact-based or consistent ones. Second, there is no basis stated, by Cheney or you or anyone else, for such a shift in thinking to have occurred. 9/11 is often cited, but we know and Cheney knew that Iraq was not connected to it.

You need to consider what the Iraqis are thinking, not what you want them to think. What might that be? Iraqis are no longer in fear of Saddam, but what has replaced him? A foreign occupier, with quick trigger fingers, practicing torture in the same prisons. A government which is answerable to the occupier, not the Iraqi people. A collaborationist iman who is losing support to a nationalist one. A near consensus that the country’s biggest problem is getting rid of their “liberators”. A lack of basis at all for building a stable, peaceful democracy. Is that a success?

Rice in her 9/11 Commmission testimony, in describing the 8/6/01 (i.e. pre-9/11) Presidential Daily Briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”. I thought that might jog your memory, after your claim that there was no reason to think so.

But there was a helluva lot more than that briefing, tailored as it was to Bush’s attention span. Clarke’s testimony, and the commission’s, suggested that it could have been anticipated without a system oriented against sharing the relevant information, and without an Administration oriented against believing anything that Clinton had.

That would be a “very, very briefing”.