Sorry to interrupt your Labor Day, but I had to invite you to a barbecue with Dick Cheney as the main course.
The long-discredited former veep has been roaming the land lately, agitating against the nuclear deal with Iran. His timing is poor – President Obama has already secured enough Senate Democratic votes to sustain the pact – so there’s actually no need to heed the guy at all. But still, what happened yesterday on Fox News is worth a few paragraphs. It was almost as delicious as a holiday weekend dessert.
Host Chris Wallace asked Cheney: “You and President Bush, the Bush/Cheney administration, dealt with Iran for eight years….During your time – let’s put these numbers up on the screen – Iran went from zero known centrifuges in operation to more than 5000. So in fairness, didn’t the Bush/Cheney administration leave President Obama with a mess?”
Props to Wallace for pointing out reality. During the Bush/Cheney reign, from early 2001 to early 2009, Iran’s nuclear program went from zero to 5000 nuclear centrifuges, and the purported administration tough guys did nothing to stop it. There was no stick (no military action), and no carrot (negotiations). But here’s what Cheney said in response yesterday, when asked about the mess that he and Bush bequeathed to Obama:
“Well, I don’t think of it that way. In fact, there was military action that had an impact on the Iranians, when we took down Saddam Hussein. There was a period of time when they stopped their program because they were afraid of what we did to Saddam we were going to do to them next.”
OMG, Cheney is still defending his disastrous Iraq invasion; and he somehow thinks that the invasion made Iran “afraid.” It’s pitiful what selective memory and willful denial can do to the human mind. Truth is, the Iraq invasion made Iran stronger in the region. Bush and Cheney “took down” Iran’s longtime enemy, and created a vacuum – which Iran promptly filled. After Hussein and his ruling Sunnis were forcibly removed, Shiites loyal to Shiite Iran took over. Iraq has essentially been a client state of Iran’s ever since. Compliments of Bush/Cheney.
Anyway. Chris Wallace, to his credit, shrugged off Cheney’s propaganda and persisted: “But the centrifuges went from zero to 5000.”
Whereupon Cheney, realizing that he was trapped, resorted to one of his favorite tactics: Falsehood. He replied, “That happened on Obama’s watch, not on our watch.”
But Wallace refused to swallow the lie: “No, no, by 2009, they were at 5000.”
Cheney, caught in his lie, finally surrendered: “Right.” But, alas, the moment was short lived. The next thing out of his mouth: “But I think we did a lot to deal with the arms control problem in the Middle East.” Wow. Invading Iraq, and flooding the Middle East with weaponry, was good for arms control? Clearly this guy spent too much time in that secret undisclosed location.
At this point, the only people who listen seriously to Cheney are denizens of the neoconservative bubble, people who long ago lost all credibility on national security policy – and who have already lost the battle with Obama over the nuclear deal.
The saner option, on TV yesterday, was Colin Powell. Referring to the Iraq disaster, he said on NBC News: “Once you pull out the top of a government, unless there’s a structure under it to give security and structure to the society, you can expect a mess.” As for the nuclear deal with Iran, he pointed out that Iran will be cutting its centrifuges by 75 percent; and cutting its uranium stockpile from 12,000 kilograms to 300 – “a remarkable reduction….We’ve stopped this highway race they were going down.”
Decide for yourself who’s right. As for me, I’ll take word of a career military man over the word of a desk jockey who got five draft deferments.