Loud Dick: he's not one to speak. He does anyway. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)
The theater of the absurd is Washington's longest-running stage production. But this is beyond absurd. This is obscene.
Dick Cheney--the man chiefly responsible for politicizing intelligence to the point of falsifying it, the man chiefly responsible for rushing to a disastrous war in Iraq under false pretenses, the man mostly responsible for subverting the rule of law in the conduct of domestic and foreign policy for eight years and the man jointly responsible with George W. Bush for dithering for seven years on Afghanistan--is now accusing Barack Obama of "dithering" on Afghanistan and putting "politics over security."
Just as obscene is Cheney's Reaganesque amnesia. It was during the last year of the Bush-Cheney administration that Gen. David McKiernan, commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the time, submitted a request for more troops. Bush ignored it. Obama partly granted it one month after taking office by sending an additional 21,000 troops. Obama is now wrangling over whether to send yet more troops. His current commander, the roguish and occasionally shady Gen. Stanley McChrystal, wants between 40,000 and 80,000 more troops. Obama isn't convinced that more boots and guns will achieve anything better than what boots and guns have done so far, which is little to speak of.
The White House put Cheney back in the sort of place that's better left undisclosed: "What Vice President Cheney calls dithering, President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform and to the American public," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. "I think we've all seen what happens when somebody doesn't take that responsibility seriously."
But the counter-Obama narrative is set. If he doesn't go for the full escalation McChrystal is demanding, he's surrendering. If he goes for it even to its half-way point of an extra 40,000, he'll be sinking American involvement in Afghanistan from disastrous to catastrophic. He can't win. Which is just what Cheney and his brand of Republicans want: defeating Obama by any means necessary, even if it means sacrificing American lives on the altar of Republican strategy. Cheney is strategizing for a surge. But the Afghan one is a sideshow. The one he cares about of the GOP's surge back to power at home. It's a war, and he's willing to demolish a president over it, just as he was willing to demolish the country's credibility and policies in Iraq and Afghanistan for seven.
- Cheney's Subversive DNA: Jane Mayer's The Dark Side
- How Bush and Cheney Revived the CIA's "Murder Inc."
- Thomas Ricks' Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
- How Bush and Cheney Lost Afghanistan
- Losing Afghanistan, Cont'd.
- How to Lose the Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan