Tag Archives: Dick Cheney

A Subtle Jab

But a classy one.

Time magazine: You’ve played piano with some big names. Who’s more difficult to work with, Aretha Franklin or Dick Cheney?

Condoleezza Rice: Oh, goodness. Neither of them is difficult to work with. Look, people have strong views, and that’s fine. I’m accustomed to  people and places with strong views. But Yo-Yo Ma and Aretha Franklin really know what they’re doing, so I can take it a little easy.

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What is the ‘Greatest Threat’ to America?

Joshua Keating at FP Passport is keeping track:

A “lone-wolf” terrorist attack – President Barack Obama President Barack Obama – Gov. Rick Perry

China’s nuclear arsenal – Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

The national debt – Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen

The economic crisisRetired Adm. Dennis Blair

Nuclear terrorism – Former Vice President Dick Cheney

Yemen Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

“Homegrown terror” – U.S. National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter

Cyber attacks – FBI Director James Mueller

Iran – 63 percent of Americans

The Haqqani Network Christiane Amanpour

Global warming – Sen. Barbara Boxer

Central American drug gangs – Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield

The radical secular socialist machine – Newt Gingrich

Obamacare – Rick Santorum

Electromagnetic Pulse weaponsEMPact America

The homosexual agenda –The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer

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Cheney Doesn’t Need an Apology

He already knows the terms of the debate have shifted.

Former vice president Dick Cheney on Sunday called last week’s CIA drone strike against al-Qaeda operative Anwar Awlaki a validation of the George W. Bush administration’s terrorist-fighting strategy, and said that President Obama should apologize for his past criticism of those policies.
Cheney endorsed the killing of Awlaki as “justified,” despite Awlaki’s U.S. citizenship, and suggested that the Obama White House was being hypocritical when it approved a deadly strike against the New Mexico-born Awlaki while condemning Bush’s use of so-called enhanced interrogation methods of al-Qaeda prisoners.

Fortunately for our security, President Obama has already shifted from the campaign rhetoric of Senator Obama. Back then he was able to say whatever he needed to excite his base: renditions will end, lobbyists will be out, the cloak of secrecy will be pulled off, our troops will be rescued from unjust wars, the oceans will lower and the planet will heal. First, during this term – his first position as an executive – he has learned that pontificating is not governing and resonating does not trump poor performance. Second, such grandstanding is not as easy when actually faced with implementing those decisions. Renditions sound bad, but if they keep us safe we might be better off with them. He didn’t like the Iraq war, but is it worth it to remove the troops prematurely and risk losing the tenable progress we have? Those are easy campaign points for a candidate, but difficult decisions for an executive. So Gitmo stays open, renditions continue, the troops leave Iraq on Bush’s timeline, Afghanistan is escalated, drone strikes increase, and incursions in Pakistan begin. Gone is the belief that all Bush did was both counterproductive and against our ideals. Gone is the belief that our security can be improved using only measures with unanimous public support and UN approval. We all should recognize the ugly trade-offs security entails. This is not to excuse all of Bush’s policies, or to argue that anything goes in defense and diplomacy. It is to say that our security and ideals often conflict, and good people from both parties will come done on different sides. Yes, Obama also believes in the “dark side.”

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An Intentional Juxtaposition?

I’m almost finished with Cheney’s memoir now, but stopped to fact check a few things he wrote on the Plame/Wilson/Libby affair. Embedded within a Walter Pincus article in the Washington Post I saw the following photo.

Was this intentional? I’m not sure. But it is quite funny.

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Dick Cheney vs. Joshua Rovner and Austin Long

Dick Cheney:

In my view, the most important lesson to be learned from the Soviet experience in Afghanistan in the 1980s is what happened after the Soviets left. The United States turned its attentions elsewhere, and Afghanistan descended into civil war. The resultant instability and eventual takeover of the country by the Taliban meant that Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorists were able to find a safe haven there. Throughout the late 1990s, thousands of terrorists were trained in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, and it became the base for the attacks of 9/11. When I hear policy-makers talk about walking away from Afghanistan, I want to remind them of what the consequences can be.

(From In My Time, p. 347.)

Not so, say Joshua Rovner and Austin Long in a CATO Institute Foreign Policy Briefing.

They point out that both the Bush and Obama administrations have argued that state-building and counterterrorism are inseparable. Obama’s national security strategy states that, “In Afghanistan, we must deny al Qaeda a safe haven, deny the Taliban the ability to overthrow the government, and strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s future.”

First of all, that argument is not even practical. Rovner and Long explain:

Unfortunately, the necessary ingredients for successful state building—time, money, and existing institutions—are in desperately short supply in Afghanistan. Public and congressional opposition to the war is rising in the United States, and the Obama administration has already announced it will scale back the U.S. commitment beginning next year. In addition, Afghanistan’s political and economic institutions are extremely weak. The fledgling government has had enormous difficulty expanding control outside of Kabul. The judiciary, which is notoriously inefficient, competes in many places with a shadow Taliban court system. Economic institutions remain fragile at best; witness the recent run on the Kabul Bank. For all of these reasons, the U.S. desire to build a strong and legitimate government in Afghanistan is not practical.

“The good news,” they explain, “is that it is not necessary.”

A state-building failure would not mean victory for al Qaeda or the Taliban. Even if the United States substantially reduces its ground forces in Afghanistan and the Kabul government remains weak and ineffectual, al Qaeda would not be able to recreate anything like the safe haven it once enjoyed. The original circumstances that made sanctuary possible no longer exist today.

Why? First of all, if the Taliban were to regain control over parts of Afghanistan, there are significant costs to pay (i.e. airstrikes), which they know well. There would be little hesitation from either American political party about using air assets for such operations. It is much more likely that al Qaeda will have to remain in hiding for the foreseeable future. This was proven in the Korengal Valley in 2010, when al Qaeda attempted to reestablish itself in an area that coalition forces had left, only to be greeted by U.S. aircraft informed by Afghan sources on the ground.

Second, the Afghan Taliban have some support from the Pakistani ISI. Al Qaeda does as well, but they will most likely elect to just stay in their current sanctuary. Pakistani militants, an enemy of the Pakistani government, do not have such support from the ISI. The Afghan Taliban would not risk their ISI support by extending a welcome to Pakistani militants if the Taliban were to return to Afghanistan.

Thus, if the Taliban return to Afghanistan, they have no incentive to welcome neither al Qaeda nor Pakistani militants. If they welcome the former, the U.S. will certainly retaliate. If they welcome the latter, no one will stop Pakistan from attacking.

As Rovner and Long conclude:

The upshot of this analysis is that state building is not necessary to succeed in Afghanistan. The decline of the central state will not lead to a domino effect in the region. Al Qaeda will not be able to recreate its old safe haven there even if the government collapses. Pakistani militants will not find reliable sanctuary either, regardless of what happens in Kabul. Rather than investing heavily in state building, the United States can achieve its interests by streamlining its counterterrorism campaign. It does not need to become mired in the bloody business of Afghanistan’s political evolution.


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Cheney on Russian and Soviet Leaders

It was during discussions about the ABM Treaty in June 2001 that Presidents Bush and Putin met for the first time. After this meeting President Bush praised Putin and talked about looking into his eyes and getting a ‘sense of his soul.’ The president was criticized for the remark, but I think it reflected the hopes of the time that Putin would be a different kind of Russian leader, one who would put his nation on a path to greater freedom. I must say I was never too optimistic about Putin. When I looked into his eyse, I saw an old KGB hand. I didn’t trust him and still don’t, but then I’m not much given to trusting Russian or Soviet leaders.

(From In My Time, p. 326.)

Here, here.

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