Dick can’t stop talking

DICK CAN’T STOP TALKING…. It’s very tempting to just blow off Dick Cheney’s latest harangue. He’s just a failed former vice president whose ideas have already been discredited, and whose catastrophic record on national security issues is pretty obvious.

But his comments last night were just a little too offensive to let pass by unnoticed.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday night accused the White House of dithering over the strategy for the war in Afghanistan and urged President Barack Obama to “do what it takes to win.”

“Make no mistake. Signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries,” Cheney said while accepting an award from a conservative national security group, the Center for Security Policy. […]

“The White House must stop dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger,” the former vice president said. “It’s time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity.”

It’s hard to know where to start, but I suppose it’s worth noting from the outset that Cheney and the most recent administration left the mess in Afghanistan for President Obama to clean up. Hearing the guy who screwed up tell the Commander in Chief, “Hurry up and mop faster” is more than a little disturbing.

For that matter, Cheney wants to see Obama “do what it takes to win”? That’s a fine idea — too bad Cheney didn’t follow that advice when he was helping run the previous administration. Conditions in Afghanistan were stable and improving when Bush/Cheney decided it was time to launch an unnecessary and costly war in Iraq, making it easier for the Taliban to regroup and go on the offensive.

The White House isn’t sending “signals of indecision”; the White House is doing what Cheney failed to do: come up with a strategic plan for the future of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. In Grown-Up Land, it’s the former vice president who “dithered” his way through eight years in Afghanistan. Taking a few weeks to come up with a coherent plan doesn’t put U.S. troops “in danger”; listening to Dick Cheney puts U.S. troops “in danger.”

Cheney said last night that the Bush White House left Obama with a great plan. That’s an interesting claim.It’d be more compelling if we had any reason to believe it.

Let’s taks a quick look back at recent history.

The Bush White House delivered a major review of Afghanistan [in December 2008] that echoed that judgment, acknowledged that a modern Afghan democracy — stable and free of extremists — may be both unattainable and unaffordable, and said that the United States may have to accept trade-offs among priorities.

“We have no strategic plan. We never had one,” a senior U.S. military commander said of the Bush years.

Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton explained today:

The record is clear: Dick Cheney and the Bush administration were incompetent war fighters. They ignored Afghanistan for 7 years with a crude approach to counter-insurgency warfare best illustrated by: 1. Deny it. 2. Ignore it. 3. Bomb it. While our intelligence agencies called the region the greatest threat to America, the Bush White House under-resourced our military efforts, shifted attention to Iraq, and failed to bring to justice the masterminds of September 11.

The only time Cheney and his cabal of foreign policy ‘experts’ have anything to say is when they feel compelled to protect this failed legacy. While President Obama is tasked with cleaning up the considerable mess they left behind, they continue to defend torture or rewrite a legacy of indifference on Afghanistan. Simply put, Mr. Cheney sees history throughout extremely myopic and partisan eyes.

When speaking about national security policy, Dick Cheney a) owes us an apology; and b) should be politely asking for Americans’ forgiveness. That Cheney feels comfortable making demands of the administration dealing with his failures shows a certain pathological quality.

Post Script: Just as an aside, I think it’s fair to say that if Al Gore had delivered a speech like this one during a crisis moment in Afghanistan, as the Bush White House formulated a policy, Gore would have quickly seen his patriotism questioned, and words like “treason” would be thrown around casually by Cheney’s allies, if not Cheney himself.