The Graciousness and Dignity of Richard B. Cheney

By James Fallows

A few hours ago I said (sincerely) that a number of prominent officials who had set the stage for today's disaster in Iraq deserved respect for their silence as their successors chose among the least-terrible of available options.

I unwisely included Dick Cheney, former vice president and most ill-tempered figure to hold national office since Richard Nixon, on that list.

If I'd waited a little while, I would have seen a new op-ed by Cheney and his daughter Liz in (where else!) the WSJ denouncing the Obama administration's fecklessness about Iraq and much else. They say, unironically, about the current occupant of the White House:

Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many. 

You want a specimen of being so wrong about so much at the expense of so many? Consider the thoughts of one Richard B. Cheney, in a major speech to the VFW in August 2002, in the run-up to the war:

Another argument holds that opposing Saddam Hussein would cause even greater troubles in that part of the world, and interfere with the larger war against terror. I believe the opposite is true.

Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the region. When the gravest of threats are eliminated, the freedom-loving peoples of the region will have a chance to promote the values that can bring lasting peace.

As for the reaction of the Arab "street," the Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation, the streets in Basra and Baghdad are "sure to erupt in joy in the same way the throngs in Kabul greeted the Americans." Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of Jihad. Moderates throughout the region would take heart. And our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced, just as it was following the liberation of Kuwait in 1991 

"The freedom-loving peoples of the region will have a chance to promote the values that can bring lasting peace." Yes, that is exactly how historians will register the lasting effects of the invasion for which Cheney was a major proponent and decision-maker. Along with the rest of his forecasts. What a guy.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/06/the-graciousness-and-dignity-of-richard-b-cheney/372974/