Saturday, March 22, 2008

Surprise! Cheney's Iraq War Pediction Was (We Could Have Guessed It) Wrong

Now that Bush's Iraq war has entered its sixth glorious year, it is worth recalling the war wisdom of Vice President Dick ("Five Deferments") Cheney.

As the Bush Administration pushed the Iraq invasion, NBC's Tim Russert posed this question: "[D]o you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?"

Cheney's reply: "Well, I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim."

14 comments:

Tulsan said...

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, yet Cheney has managed to do substantially worse. He has been mistaken over the last seven years to an almost uncanny degree. How was it that people thought he would be a steadying influence on Bush in his first term?

It has been suggested that Cheney had an "intellectual stroke" after 9/11. That seems as good a way to describe it as I have heard.

Speculation (and that's all it is) that he suffered a real stroke can be found in the book Vice, reviewed in the Washington Post.

Brent Scowcroft, an old friend of Dick Cheney, said of him, "I don't know him anymore."

An online commenter said, "I'm an RN. I'm surprised everyone seems to be missing the point. I believe Cheney's multiple heart attacks have resulted in these personality changes through occlusions of blood flow, whether permanent or temporary, to the brain. In a sense, Cheney has suffered mini-strokes. So like many stroke victims, he's a different man."

Tulsan said...

This should give McCain voters pause. He is older than Reagan was when he was elected President.

When McCain has appeared in public recently, he has been flanked by Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham, who stand ready to correct McCain's missteps. How would he do without these handlers?

Just because McCain is showing signs of dementia doesn't mean he is another Reagan.

Dan Paden said...

Hmmm--as you know, frequently context is everything. It would be helpful to know what Cheney meant by "long," "costly," and "significant casualties."

There's little doubt that the Iraq war has been longer and costlier than any of the neocons envisioned. They made the mistake of thinking that all people everywhere want liberty and representative government and would adapt to Western ways with greater ease.

It's important to note that this notion is actually contrary to historical conservative points of view.

I don't know about the casualties, though. For a war of that length, I think the casualties have actually been remarkably low. Perspective is everything, sometimes. For a reference point as to what "significant casualties" are, I always think of the Battle of Tarawa.

Tulsan said...

Dan: "It would be helpful to know what Cheney meant by 'long,' 'costly,' and 'significant casualties.'"

From "Face The Nation." March 16, 2003:

Cheney: "I'm confident that our troops will be successful, and I think it'll go relatively quickly, but we can't..."

Q: Weeks?

Cheney: "...we can't count on that."

Q: Months?

Cheney: "Weeks rather than months. There's always the possibility of--of complications that you can't anticipate, but I'm--I have great confidence in our troops...The really challenging part of it to some extent may come in the--in the aftermath once the military segment is over and we move to try and stand up a new government and--and turn over to the Iraqi people the responsibilities to their nation."

The invasion occurred March 20, and an end to major combat operations. was declared on May 1. At that time 139 US armed forces personnel had been killed. 3857 have been killed since that time. The "aftermath" has been more than a 27 times deadlier to the US military than the initial combat phase.

The Iraq War Will Cost Us $3 Trillion, and Much More from the Washington Post, March 9, 2008:

"Administration officials insisted that the costs would be more like $50 billion to $60 billion...Others in the administration, such as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, hoped that U.S. partners would chip in, as they had in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, or that Iraq's oil would pay for the damages."

"The end result of all this wishful thinking? As we approach the fifth anniversary of the invasion, Iraq is not only the second longest war in U.S. history (after Vietnam), it is also the second most costly -- surpassed only by World War II."

Dan: "It's important to note that this notion is actually contrary to historical conservative points of view."

Are we now to hear "Do-overs! These guys weren't true conservatives!"?

Starting with Goldwater and Buckley, the conservative movement has been working steadily toward its moment of controlling the White House and the Congress, and here is only one of the results.

Sorry. There has been so much incompetence and avarice it will take at least a generation to undo the damage, if it can be undone at all.

Dan: "I don't know about the casualties, though. For a war of that length, I think the casualties have actually been remarkably low. Perspective is everything, sometimes."

So, Dan, from your perspective, do you plan to either join the military or encourage your family to enlist for this glorious cause? Sounds like you believe in the war, so that would be the natural action to take.

Dan Paden said...

Tulsan, it amuses me somewhat to see your long documentation that amounts to proving a point that I had already conceded, that is:
There's little doubt that the Iraq war has been longer and costlier than any of the neocons envisioned.
So we agree on that point!

As to my take on the Neocons, there's little doubt that their views on the subject--speaking specifically of the idea that all people, everywhere, naturally prefer Western-style representative government--run counter to historical conservative thought. I don't know how much the term "do-over" applies, as this has been said repeatedly by the Paleocons for years.

Of course, there are streams within conservatism, just as there are streams within liberalism.

Will I enlist? At the age of forty-five? Having already been a Marine? Not likely!

Will I encourage my children to enlist? I'd be thrilled if they did, but I am going to exert no pressure.

Do I support the War? That is more complex. I do support an aggressive stance against Islamofascism. On the other hand, I don't think any president ought to be able to fight a war that Congress hasn't declared. Declaration of war is a power delegated to Congress, not the President. If Bush wanted to go to war in Iraq, he should have asked Congress for a declaration of war and abided by the results. Congress should have insisted on that as well, but they long since abdicated their constitutional duty in this respect.

Having gone into Iraq, I don't think it's realistic to pull out before achieving a stable government that can at least defend its own borders. How our elected representatives are going to handle this, I don't know.

Tulsan said...

Aside from the legalistic aspects, since you oppose "Islamofascism" (an imprecise and propagandistic term,) do you support this war or whatever it is?

I would think you would have to be strongly for it to be "thrilled" at the idea of your children enlisting to fight it.

It seems to me that an economic conservative would be in convulsions over it. The idea of borrowing enormous amounts of money from the Chinese to finance it doesn't seem like the best national security move either.

Irresponsible at the very best.

Dan Paden said...

Boy, you're just determined to pigeonhole me, aren't you?

Aside from the legalistic aspects, since you oppose "Islamofascism" (an imprecise and propagandistic term,) do you support this war or whatever it is?

This is what I said, having prefaced it with the plain statement that I didn't think that we should have gone to war without a declaration of war:

Having gone into Iraq, I don't think it's realistic to pull out before achieving a stable government that can at least defend its own borders.

How this could possibly have been unclear, I don't quite understand.

I would think you would have to be strongly for it to e "thrilled" at the idea of your children enlisting to fight it.

You are being terribly one-dimensional. I would be thrilled if any of them were to enlist; does that necessarily mean that I agree with the way Iraq has been approached? Have I not just told you that I thought it was started in an unconstitutional manner?

It seems to me that an economic conservative would be in convulsions over it.

If it doesn't serve the stated purpose, yes, of course. It may well not. Tulsan, when I say that I support an aggressive tack against Islamofascism, you seem to be hearing "I uncritically support everything the administration does in Iraq." Such is rather obviously not the case. What I do think is that premature withdrawal, having gone in in the first place, is likely to lead to consequences worse than heavy spending.

The idea of borrowing enormous amounts of money from the Chinese to finance it doesn't seem like the best national security move either.

I certainly don't like the idea of borrowing money from the Chinese, either--we agree on that. But I'd rather cut the budget elsewhere. :)

Tulsan, I'm sorry if my answers sound ambivalent to you. Unfortunately, not everyone in the country fits into a simple yes/no category when it comes to Iraq. I've made my position on it about as clear as I can in a comments thread. If you want more, you can chew on this for a little while. Eventually, I'll get 'round to writing more on the subject.

Tulsan said...

When you say, "I'd rather cut the budget elsewhere" to pay for a 3 trillion dollar war, I suppose you are aware that the entire U.S. budget for 2009 proposed by Bush is 3.1 trillion. Or was that a funny?

Dan: "Having gone into Iraq, I don't think it's realistic to pull out before achieving a stable government that can at least defend its own borders."

Bush and company don't plan to pull out under any conditions. The only aspect of Iraq's government that matters to them is whether it plays ball with Washington. Sunni, Shi'ite, it doesn't matter to them (indeed, few of them seem clear on the particulars.)

Bush has floated out several different versions of our "stated purpose" over time. WMDs? Bush knew Saddam had no WMDs. Was it the ouster of Saddam? Was it an Iraq "which can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself"?

Asia Times "...any plan to hasten the US effort to achieve greater oil independence translates in political terms as taking control of Iraq's oil reserves. There is simply no other viable alternative open to the US. Essentially, it boils down to the 20 words that the former US Federal Bank chief Alan Greenspan wrote towards the end of his memoir, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, 'I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraq war is largely about oil.'"

The constitutionality of the war is also beside the point to Bush, as he views the Constitution as no more than a stumbling block anyway. We are to stay in Iraq and exploit its oil wealth. That is the prize that Bush and company have their eye on. Indeed, by squandering staggering amounts of resources, they seem determined to create a situation where we must do so to even to survive. It never had anything to do with 9/11. That's why, according to Bush, capturing bin Laden is "not a top priority use of American resources."

Does anyone believe this gang understands the economic forces they are playing around with? Does anyone believe they are capable of implementing a plan to exploit Iraq's oil? Does anyone believe they have figured Iran into the equation except to threaten them militarily? With what?

Is this such a popular and just war that young conservatives will line up at the enlistment office? Or will Bush be "forced" to play the nuclear card?

If all this is to your liking, then perhaps you are justified in being thrilled at the prospect of your children enlisting.

Tulsan said...

More good calls from prognosticating prodigy Cheney:

Cheney calls troop surge a "major success" and insists that the U.S. economy is not in a recession.

ABCNews, 3/19/2008:

Pressed on the question of what sacrifice most Americans have made to the war effort, Cheney touted the strength of a volunteer force, pushing away the idea of an instituted draft.

"I suppose you could have created a sense of sacrifice if you'd gone back to the draft, but that would have, in my opinion, done serious damage to the state of our military," Cheney said.

Cheney aligned sacrifice with war funding.

"Obviously, we've expended considerable public funds on this enterprise, and those are funds that could have been used for some other purpose. But we think this is the most important use we could put them to. The country has, in fact, supported financially the endeavors we've been involved in."

*********
Cheney maybe does have some backhanded logic going on here.

If jobs dry up in a recession, maybe recruitment will go up.

True, standards will likely continue to be lowered to include even more high school dropouts, applicants who score poorly on the armed forces aptitude test (Slate,) those with medical conditions, drug and alcohol abusers, and felons (Army Times.)

But on the bright side, modern weapons practically fire themselves!

Dan Paden said...

I'll have a side of political discussion, hold the demonic hatred, please...:)

Just kidding. You've been civil in your disagreement.

Tulsan,more and more I get the impression that you are trying to argue with someone who is not actually here, so to speak. In regard to the Iraq war, it's like there's no room in your worldview for more than two positions: it seems that if one favors staying in Iraq 'til it can at least function on its own again, one must therefore agree with every jot and tittle of the Bush administration's policies and justifications; conversely, it seems that if a person doubts the reasoning/doctrine/evidence advanced by the Bush administration at the commencement of the war, it should follow axiomatically that one would favor immediate pullout.

And people say that I see the world only in black and white. :)

...was that a funny?

No--the emoticon was there because I knew perfectly well that you and I would be poles apart on that. I'm quite sure that if the federal government were to eliminate all spending on activities which it is not actually authorized by the Constitution to do, there would be enough money left over to prosecute the war. But the odds of you and I agreeing on the meaning of the Constitution and its limits on the federal government are, in all likelihood, nil.

The constitutionality of the war is also beside the point to Bush...

Agreed.

Does anyone believe this gang understands the economic forces they are playing around with?

I don't.

Does anyone believe they are capable of implementing a plan to exploit Iraq's oil?

I don't.

Does anyone believe they have figured Iran into the equation except to threaten them militarily?

I don't.

...perhaps you are justified in being thrilled at the prospect of your children enlisting.

Like I say, there seems to be no room in your worldview for a position that doesn't fit into your boxes. To say that I'd be thrilled if my children enlisted isn't the same thing as saying that I think the Bush administration has done the right thing from the beginning; there's more to it than that.

I'm curious, Tulsan: did you enjoy your time in the military? Did you find it worthwhile? Did you have to fight overseas to find it so?

Tulsan said...

First, I see we actually agree on quite a lot. Second, you are correct that some of my comments address both AT's original point, and general considerations beyond what either you or AT brought up.

I think we also agree that a thinking person is unlikely to agree with "every jot and tittle" of Bush's policy and actions.

Nevertheless, there should be some connection between what you think is going on in the Middle East, and what you think is a wise decision for people you care about who are of age to participate in the conflict.

Re my own status: I talked with a recruiter at one time, but ultimately did something else. It was at a time between the end of Vietnam and the beginning of Iraq 1. When was your service, Dan?

To avoid being too conciliatory, I do disagree that any reasonable (or even unreasonable) adjustment of the budget would provide ample funds to pay for this war, especially considering, as Cheney does, that it is completely open-ended.

Tulsan said...

Further point of disagreement:

You said: "it seems that if a person doubts the reasoning/doctrine/evidence advanced by the Bush administration at the commencement of the war, it should follow axiomatically that one would favor immediate pullout."

Not necessarily, but one should be extra-critical of this team's motives and acumen after they deceived us into an long and expensive conflict. OK, more than extra-critical: they should be impeached.

Tulsan said...

And pardon me, in quoting you just above ("it seems that if a person doubts...,) I failed to provide the proper context to show that this statement was your interpretation of my position, not your own position.

Dan Paden said...

When was your service, Dan?

United States Marine Corps Reserve,1984-1989. Enjoyed the first four years of it immensely; had I known before I enlisted how much fun it would be, I would have gone active duty for six years and spent half my time in Okinawa. Once you enlisted--back then, anyway--in the Reserves, it was very difficult to go active duty, so I missed out on some things that I wished I hadn't.

Oh, well. Water under the bridge.

To avoid being too conciliatory...

!!

I do disagree that any reasonable (or even unreasonable) adjustment of the budget would provide ample funds to pay for this war...

I kind of suspected you might...