The Cheney Interview: 'Screw the troops. They volunteered.'
Crooks and Liars has video of the interview in which Vice President Cheney cavalierly dismissed of the 4,000 Americans who have died in Iraq. Asked to comment on the grim milestone, Cheney first attempted to use the dead soldiers to score political points by deliberately conflating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:
It obviously brings home I think for a lot of people the cost that's involved in the global war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.Excuse me, but we passed the 4,000 mark for Iraq and Afghanistan quite some time ago. The question was about the people who died in Iraq. The ones who died in a war of choice, a war fought to counter a non-existent threat. The question was about the men and women who were sacrificed on the altar of Cheney's twisted ambitions in Iraq.
Cheney then asked us to weep for the draft-dodger in chief:
The president carries the biggest burden, obviously.Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, Cheney dropped this bombshell:
Actually, it's the soldiers who were killed and maimed (remember them?) who were saddled with the biggest burden. Obviously.
We are fortunate to have a group of men and women, the all-volunteer force who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harms way for the rest of us. And we wish nobody ever lost their life. But unfortunately, it's one of the things that go with living in the world we live in. Sometimes you have to commit military force and when you do, there are casualties.Translation: 'I have to put on a show of honoring the troops here, but if they'd been smart like me and the president they would have avoided combat. I mean, seriously. They didn't even have to go through all the lies and pretenses that go with dodging the draft. All they had to do was not sign up. I wish nobody had been killed, but hey: they volunteered.'
And what's this about "sometimes you have to commit military force"? Hussein never threatened the United States. He certainly posed no threat in 2003, after the decade of crippling sanctions which followed the annihilation of his army. Sometimes you do have to commit military force, but as Cheney knows all too well, this was not one of those times.
Unsurprisingly, Cheney dodged a question about multiple deployments and the stop-loss orders that undermine his claims that all of those killed were in Iraq voluntarily. When pressed, he tried to parry the question about forcing soldiers to stay in Iraq with one of his own:
So what would be the solution to that? I mean, how would you deal with that?I have an answer to that one: don't invade and occupy nations that pose no threat to us or their neighbors. If not for the Iraq War, the stop losses and the multiple extended tours would have been unnecessary.
One can make exceptions for ongoing genocide, but nothing like that was occurring in Iraq at the time of the invasion. In fact, the last great mass killing in Iraq that occurred before 2003 ended in March 1997, when the first shipments of food and medicine arrived after the Clinton administration finally dropped its longstanding opposition to the UN oil-for-food program.
Later in the interview, Cheney tried to bang the drum for war with Iran:
I hear about it virtually every place I go and the concerns that leaders in the region have for what they see happening in Iran, and what they see Iran doing in the region is perhaps not universal, but it's close to it. And, uh, that goes with everything from their support for Hezbollah and their efforts, their working through the Syrians for example to interfere with the political process inside Lebanon. they've supported Hamas with the intention, I believe, of trying to disrupt the peace process. Obviously, they're also, they're heavily involved in trying to develop nuclear weapons, enrichment, the enrichment of uranium to weapons grade levels.Really? Has Cheney asked any leaders in the region about Israel or the United States? Because in reality, leaders in the region are a whole lot more concerned about the hyper-aggression of the US and Israel than they are about the Iranians, who have not invaded another nation in more than 200 years.
The bit about interfering in Lebanon reads like a sick joke, in light of the American support of Israel's recent invasion of that country. And let's not forget that American intelligence services have determined that Iran is NOT pursuing nuclear weapons. It's as if Cheney's mouth was a factory that mass-produces lies.
Cheney then moved on to oil prices, patting himself on the back for solving America's energy crisis, and blaming environmentalists for runaway prices:
Well, what I did was I talked with Minister Ali al-Naimi, he's the Saudi oil minister, use to be the head of Aram-Co the Saudi oil co, I have known him for many years before I came back to government I knew him. And what we did was renew a commitment they made to us in 2005 as I recall, the King came to the States we had a session, we then encouraged them to increase their production capacity... If we had acted back in the 90's on NWAR, when Congress approved it twice but Clinton vetoed it, we would of had an immediate additional million barrels a day of production today online. That would of had a big impact on the prices in the United States.Oh, did Clinton's veto have a big impact on oil prices? Have a look at this chart, and see if you can determine whether prices were higher when Clinton was president, or when Bush was president (click to inflate):
It's subtle, but if you look closely you'll see that prices were slightly higher under Bush. And if you really squint, you can kind of make out an upward trend line that begins with the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Poor Cheney started to tie himself in knots when it came time to talk about al Qaeda:
I think that we have had major success against Al Qaeda. I think that if you look for example at what we have been able to accomplish in terms of people captured and killed in the Al Qaeda organization in the fact that we have put them on the run the fact that we have successfully defended the country now going on seven years against any further attacks, there have been no additional attacks since 9-11 on the U.S. that's not an accident.Er... how many of the 4,000 Americans killed in Iraq were the victims of al Qaeda attacks? Why don't they count? (Wait... they volunteered. Never mind.) And if the US and its allies are fighting a global war against terrorism, why don't the al Qaeda attacks in Spain, the UK, the Philippines, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan count? Or are we only involved in a global war when Cheney decides it's convenient to be embroiled in a global war?
The vice president continued:
You don't have at this stage the same kind of safe haven in Iraq that existed in Afghanistan before 9-11.Yeah, and you also didn't have that before the invasion.
Cheney went on, giving the pretext du jour for staying in Iraq:
You got to remember what happened in Afghanistan that it is relevant to Iraq and that is that after we been engaged in Afghanistan in the 80's support the Mucha Hadin against the Soviets. That was a successful policy then everybody walked away. And what you got in Afghanistan was a civil war, the Taliban and the emergence of Osama Bin Laden in 1996 when he moved into Afghanistan, set up training camps and trained thousands of terrorists, some of which came and killed 3,000 Americans in 9-11.So Cheney decided to go ahead and set up the exact same situation in Iraq. Brilliant. And let's not forget what happened just before the Afghan civil war: the Soviet Union, having broken their military and bankrupted their treasury in a ten year occupation, were forced to withdraw in response to an economic crisis at home. Sound familiar?
Even after the Soviets withdrew, the Bush administration, Pakistan, and Israel continued to funnel massive amounts of aid to the Taliban and other Afghan resistance groups. That's how the Taliban were able to take over the country. Al Qaeda doesn't have that sort of backing, and they are deeply unpopular in Iraq. There is as little chance of al Qaeda taking over Iraq after we leave as there was before we invaded. That is to say, there is no chance at all that it will happen.
Laughably, Cheney then tried to claim a mandate from the people of Iraq:
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have stood up along side us, enlisted in their security services, have run in elections, have taken on responsible post.Hundreds of thousands? That only leaves about 27 million Iraqis who want us to go. It's hard to imagine, but Cheney and Bush are even less popular in Iraq than they are in the United States.
Toward the end of the interview, Cheney mentions that he's very glad that he chose himself when asked to select a running mate for then-governor Bush:
I finished my political career when he invited me to join him on the ticket 8 years ago now. And I am very glad that I did... he picked me because he said he wanted me to be part of his administration to be a member of the team and that's exactly what he has done, I've been the beneficiary.Cheney certainly has been the beneficiary. He held thousands of stock options in Halliburton after he stepped down as CEO. If the company had continued its slide after Cheney left, those options would have been worthless. But after the company was given billions of dollars in no-bid contracts to help supply the troops and rebuild Iraq, Halliburton shares skyrocketed. Cheney made millions.
Cheney concluded with what sounded like a thinly-disguised plea for clemency:
I had the experience for example working with Gerald Ford and I will never forgotten the trials he went through after he had been president for 30 days when he issues a pardon for former President Nixon and there was consternation coast to coast... 30 years later nearly everybody would say it was the exactly the right thing to do.I am reminded of the words of the Most Dangerous Professor in the Universe:
Is there a more cartoonishly evil person in the American public sphere? He is so far off the scale of ordinary decency that you can’t parody him.(cross posted at Liberal Avenger and appletree)