11 years too late, US media rebukes Dick Cheney

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Former US Vice President Dick Cheney. (Photo: AFP)

By: Sabah Ayoub

Published Saturday, June 28, 2014

“If only ISIS had Dick Cheney to give them advice, it would help the United States (confront it),” “Dick wants to forget history and write his own version,” “Has he lost it?” “This man is audacious to the point of impudence.”

Former US vice president during George W. Bush’s two terms, Dick Cheney, was not attacked for what he did when he was in power the way he was attacked this past week.

The reason behind the current frenzy is Cheney’s media appearances in which he repeatedly said that “what is happening in Iraq is Barack Obama’s fault because he decided to withdraw.” And that he is still convinced that “the war on Iraq in 2003 was the right decision.”

Instead of Bush administration officials keeping their mouths shut, especially those who played a key role in misleading the US and world public opinion and launched a costly war on Iraq that the region is still paying dearly for, you have Dick Cheney speaking in their name without any shame or reticence. A conservative hawk who was one of the first people to promote the lie that Saddam Hussein “possessed weapons of mass destruction that threatened everyone’s security,” Cheney emerged showing no remorse for what he did, shirked responsibility for all the mistakes that the Bush administration committed and laid the blame on Obama.

Remarkably, most of the responses to Cheney’s statements were not limited to politicians like Bill Clinton and Senator Rand Paul, but came from journalists and media personalities. Most US media institutions attacked Cheney and recalled the disaster of the Iraqi invasion, the false campaigns and the failed strategy that led to Iraq’s current crisis in their opinion. As though reciting the act of contrition, only 11 years too late, journalists used Cheney’s shameless statement as an opportunity to write what they failed to write before, during and after the US invasion of Iraq.

Is it real fear of the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that has prompted their response? Or are they lending support to President Obama? Are the reasons purely political or has a sense of professionalism and reason been suddenly awaked in US journalists? We will never know. But if you look at the articles published last week and listen to the commentaries of satirical and political shows, you will see unconcealed hatred for the entire era of George W. Bush and all the symbols and events that marked it.

Walter Pincus in the Washington Post recalled Cheney’s fiery and confident statements before and during the war about “how peace is going to prevail in the Middle East after Saddam’s regime falls.”

Paul Waldman in the same newspaper points out that Cheney’s recent statements do not tell us what he and his colleagues in the previous administration would have done about the Iraqi crisis now. He also recalls that it was President Bush who signed the agreement to withdraw all the troops from Iraq and not Obama, which makes Cheney’s accusations against the current president illegitimate.

Joan Walsh on Salon news website wrote that Cheney “apparently sits around imagining nuclear terror attacks.” Commenting on Cheney’s prediction a few days ago during a radio interview that “something is coming that will be worse than September 11, and soon,” Walsh asks: “Has he lost it?”

The famous comedian Jon Stewart mocked Cheney’s remarks last week saying sarcastically: “This.. guy acts like we were 20 seconds away from total victory in Iraq when suddenly Obama just gives it away.”

In The Los Angeles Times, David Horsey published a cartoon depicting Cheney sitting with members of hardline Islamist groups in Iraq, drinking tea and giving advice. He says: “First, assume you’ll be greeted as liberators.” The article accompanying the cartoon continues: “If he [Cheney] could steer them [ISIS] in the same self-destructive direction that he steered the USA, he’d finally be doing his country a favor.” Horsey’s article recalls that Cheney was one of the key architects of the Iraq war in addition to Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. He says the outcome of these people’s actions because of their war in Iraq in 2003 has been: “chaos, instability, terrorism and sectarian bloodletting, from Libya to Syria.”

Other articles in US newspapers and magazines also recalled the numbers of dead US soldiers and Iraqi citizens to condemn Cheney’s statement that the Bush administration made “the right choice by invading Iraq at the time.”

What if these journalists and others were up in arms before the war on Iraq ten years ago? What if the US media did not participate in deliberately promoting the war that they are condemning now? It is a good thing for previous US officials responsible for the Iraq invasion to be held accountable on the pages of US newspapers, but what use is it now as it comes a bit too late?

“Unseemly”

In an interview on NBC, former President Bill Clinton described Dick Cheney’s remarks as “unseemly.” Media outlets reported Clinton’s statement while the conservative media objected. “I believe if they hadn’t gone to war in Iraq, none of this would be happening,” said Clinton, adding that the Obama administration is “cleaning up the mess that he [Cheney] made.” Conservative TV station Fox News gave Cheney the chance to rebut Clinton. He said: “The former president also believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

The article is weakened by the fact that all those cited have been critical of Cheney for decades. Pincas was one of the few prominent reporters who strenuously doubted the Bush WMD claims, Walsh and Waldman have been progressive critics of Bush-Cheney since they were in diapers. And Jon Stewart started making fun of Cheney once the latter chaired Bush's search for a VP committee and comically decided that he was his own best choice. You need to pick better examples if you want to prove something has changed!

American television media thrives on controversy so Cheney keeps getting invited back onto the airways. His appearances are followed by perfunctory hand-wringing over whether this is justified or not. Here is a useful discussion of the issue
http://reliablesources.blogs.cnn.com/category/dick-cheney/

Bottom line: don't expect to *not* see Cheney or his daughter on television any time soon. Controversy generates eyeballs and that brings in advertising revenue. To paraphrase an old joke by former Senator Alan Simpson, the only thing that will cure Cheney-itis is embalming fluid.

are we asked now to suffer nastolgia for the. Good Old Days of Saddam Hussain
! the leader who knew how to govern Arabs?

Bill Clinton is every bit as much to blame as Cheney. See his piece shoring up the British end of the invasion at the time when it looked like Blair might fall: "Trust Tony's judgment" - Bill Clinton http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2003/mar/18/foreignpolicy.iraq3

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