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Jan 25, 2007

Response to Cheney's interview w/ Blitzer

Defending Iraq War, Defiant Cheney Cites 'Enormous Successes' (WaPo)

When Blitzer asked whether the administration's credibility had been hurt by "the blunders and the failures" in Iraq, Cheney interjected: "Wolf, Wolf, I simply don't accept the premise of your question. I just think it's hogwash."

In fact, Cheney said, the operation in Iraq has achieved its original mission. "What we did in Iraq in taking down Saddam Hussein was exactly the right thing to do," he said. "The world is much safer today because of it. There have been three national elections in Iraq. There's a democracy established there, a constitution, a new democratically elected government. Saddam has been brought to justice and executed. His sons are dead. His government is gone."

"If he were still there today," Cheney added, "we'd have a terrible situation."

"But there is," Blitzer said.

"No, there is not," Cheney retorted. "There is not. There's problems -- ongoing problems -- but we have in fact accomplished our objectives of getting rid of the old regime, and there is a new regime in place that's been here for less than a year, far too soon for you guys to write them off." He added: "Bottom line is that we've had enormous successes and we will continue to have enormous successes."

Hahaha! There's too much to talk about here. Let's start at the beginning.

1) I see no evidence that the US, Iraq or the world are safer with Saddam out of power. America now faces prospects of a regional war, Al Qaeda-controlled provinces of Iraq (Al Anbar) and a sectarian break-up of the country that was previously a non-issue. The previous situation was much more stable.

2) The national elections aren't exactly a farce, but they aren't nearly as successful Cheney suggests. In many Sunni neighborhoods, Shiites swept polls because of Sunni boycotts (that makes many city councils very unrepresentative of their constituency and occasionally even hostile to them); Parliament has not met (NY Times) since November because so many politicians are living out of the country; and the United States has quietly supported delays in elections in the southern provinces because Sadr's block would have done so well (and because security is so bad). These are not trivial problems. They mean the government can do very little.

3) Saddam was certainly executed, but it is difficult to argue he was brought to justice. Just remember he was executed by a sectarian militia. And did you know that Al Sadr is holding on to the noose that hung him (Arab Times)?

OK, moving on. Cheney wants to talk about accomplishing objectives. Here are the objectives he laid out in March 2003 on Meet the Press versus his objectives as stated above (not too different):
January 24, 2007March 16, 2003
Get rid of old regimeReplace the old regime

Locate and destroy WMDs

Preserve the territorial integrity of Turkey

Stand up a broadly representative government of the Iraqi people that preserves the territorial integrity of Iraq

I think we can all agree that only of the original objectives, WMDs were a non-issue, that the territorial integrity of Turkey (code word for no Kurdish republic) is not yet a secured issue, and that just how broadly representative the Iraqi government is cannot be discussed in 2 minutes. Notice that physical security and economic well-being, the two most important things to most Iraqis, don't make the list in either case.

In summary, I'd like to know exactly how 600,000 dead Iraqis (pdf), Iraqi unemployment of 30-60%, ethnic cleansing in most neighborhoods of Baghdad, the curbing of freedom women once enjoyed, massive university and school shutdowns, 4 hours of electricity a day, a self-funding insurgency, fuck-ups in construction progress, militia control of neighborhoods and tons of oil smuggling qualify as an "enormous successes."

I think the answer is given in how Cheney could only point to the end of Saddam and elections to prove success.


Subrata said...

This is an excellent post. I originally didn't know the context of it or bother with it(until I saw the DailyShow clips from this interview )

Anyway, nice.


阿牛 said...

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