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Monday, Dec 22, 2014
Joe Henderson Columns

Cheney used to be important; now he’s just pathetic

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Published:   |   Updated: June 30, 2014 at 02:32 PM

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There is a reason you rarely hear former presidents harshly criticize the current occupant of the office. When you know what they know and have to make the decisions they make, you respect the weight of those actions more than anyone else could.

Dick Cheney never served as president (officially, anyway), but as the puppet master for what turned out to be disastrous policies in so many ways he should appreciate the complexity of trying to solve incendiary situations like Iraq.

This angry, spiteful man no longer matters on the global stage, though, and that must be hard for him. He must be tortured by his own irrelevance.

Cheney, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, wrote of President Obama’s handling of the wind-down to the U.S. presence in Iraq: “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”

Even his allies at Fox News understood how detached from reality that statement was, given that Cheney helped create the mess that Obama is trying to fix. Evening news anchor Megyn Kelly aggressively attacked Cheney’s credibility during an interview with the former vice president.

“But time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir. You said there were no doubts Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” she said.

“You said we would be greeted as liberators. You said the Iraq insurgency was in the last throes back in 2005. And you said that after our intervention, extremists would have to, quote, ‘rethink their strategy of Jihad.’ Now with almost a trillion dollars spent there with 4,500 American lives lost there, what do you say to those who say, you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?”

Researchers in the United States and other countries issued a report last year that estimated more than 500,000 Iraqi civilians died from war-related violence since the 2003 invasion into their country. There are too many wounded on both sides to count.

And for what?

If Cheney was the leader of a foreign country and acted with as little regard for law and human life as he has, under his logic we would have to invade his country and remove him from power.

Cheney and others like him believe diplomacy is best practiced by reducing enemies to smoking rubble, then leave the mess for someone else to fix. When they fight back, well, that’s the next guy’s problem.

Ron Paul, the elder statesman of the tea party, said it best when he argued that we can’t be the world’s police force. If we stopped trying to manipulate the state of affairs in so many nations around the world, maybe they wouldn’t hate us so much.

But, no, Dick Cheney says bringing soldiers home from Iraq is wrong because, I presume, as president he never would have done such a thing. Of course, he wouldn’t have. He would have found a way to make the battle last forever, with no regard to the cost.

Funny thing, though. Under Cheney’s policy, Iraq still wouldn’t be liberated.

It would be occupied.

It doesn’t sound like he knows the difference. Worse yet, I doubt he even cares.

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