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Friday, October 10, 2003

Cheney to Base, come in please

Tomorrow's NYT reports that

Vice President Dick Cheney lashed out on Friday at critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, ridiculing their arguments against the war as naïve and dangerous in a speech that was a culmination of a campaign by the White House to regain support for the postwar effort.

Cheney was speaking to the Heritage Foundation — a sympathetic audience, no doubt intended to be a conduit for his remarks to promulgate throughout the core of the Administration's supporters.  The Veep was helping "prop up the base," and I'm glad to see that effort being made.

The vice president dared critics to refute the assessment that Iraq without Mr. Hussein was better off than before. "There would still be active terror camps in Iraq," he said, "the regime would still be allowing terrorist leaders into the country, and this ally of terrorists would still have a hidden biological weapons program, capable of producing deadly agents on short notice."

Ignoring Mr. Hussein's appetite for illicit weapons would have only courted disaster, he insisted. "Weakness and drift and vacillation in the face of danger invite attacks," he said. "Strength and resolve and decisive action defeat attacks before they can arrive on our soil."

Mr. Cheney said it was dangerous to rely too heavily on reaching international consensus before acting against terrorists, saying that approach "amounts to a policy of doing exactly nothing."

This isn't exactly new, but it does bear repeating. 

Building IraqWhat I'd personally like to see added into the mix — and perhaps it was there, but just not included in what the Times chose to quote — would be more emphasis on the foreseeable benefits to the US and to the civilized (non-terroristic) world from a democratic and free Iraq.  During the last half of the twentieth century, the only free and democratic state in the Middle East has been Israel — and for obvious reasons, its ability to exercise moral suasion or influence or political leadership among Arab or other Islamic states has been nil.  To the extent we stay the course and succeed in building a democratic Iraq, however, it will become a "force multiplier," an agent of genuine revolution that we could never expect from the Saudis or the Egyptians.  There are legitimate grounds for optimism and excitement in Iraq — even if we're not yet to the proverbial "end of the beginning," much less the "beginning of the end" there.

It's a pity that the "Angry Left" — the same folks whose predecessors joined JFK's Peace Corps in droves in another era of strife and optimism — isn't likely to be persuaded to this viewpoint.  They're too consumed by their hatred of Dubya to see real prospects for improvement; they'd rather be "right" and see a "quagmire."  Just think what constructive purposes their energies could be harnessed to — if they were simply willing to do their work under American and Iraqi flags instead of insisting upon a hand-over to a laughably ineffective UN.

Building IraqBut even beyond the core that Cheney was addressing, there is a substantial thoughtful portion of the American public who're not yet self-blinded by hatred of Dubya or reflexive anti-Americanism.  For them to become inspired, we probably will need to at least reach the "end of the beginning" — a point where some tangible rewards begin to show up, a point where good news outshouts the latest body-count.  Until that day, the core has to stay faithful.  So I'm glad for Cheney's speech, and I'm glad for a President who doesn't let focus groups define our national policy.

(Pix swiped with thanks from Dean's World.)

Posted by Beldar at 10:26 PM in Current Affairs, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


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