Monday, September 19, 2011

Recent American History According to Cheney

It seems that former Vice President Dick Cheney is in the news again and I am left scrambling for my migraine medicine.  He has written a book detailing all the wonderful things he accomplished as Vice President under George W. Bush.  Unfortunately for Mr. Cheney, in his efforts to explain his work as Vice President under George W. Bush, he may have provided an admission of some of the alleged lies that critics claim were being spread by Cheney and the Bush administration in the lead up to war in Iraq.  According to an article by former AP writer, Robert Parry, "One of the few candid admissions that slipped through was the former Vice President's brief acknowledgement that President George W. Bush had decided on the need for a "second resolution" in the United Nations Security Council to authorize the 2003 invasion of Iraq but failed to get it. "When the president decided to try for a second resolution, I understood his reasons," Cheney wrote, indicating that it would provide necessary legal and political cover for British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "But our efforts to gather support for the resolution were unsuccessful, and on Monday, March 17, we pulled it down."

In other words, the Bush administration recognized that its desire to invade Iraq had not been sanctioned by the UN Security Council. Bush floated this second resolution to spell out that authority but needed to yank it down because it was doomed to defeat.Approval from the Security Council is a prerequisite under international law for giving legitimacy to an invasion. Still, after being rebuffed by the Security Council – though no formal vote was taken – Bush pressed ahead with the invasion, claiming that an earlier resolution, 1441, demanding that Iraq get rid of its WMD or face severe consequences, was sufficient legal justification for war."  Parry

If I understand Mr. Parry's claims, he is suggesting that Vice President Cheney admitted that the Bush administration broke international law when it invaded Iraq in 2003, but the media was too excited about the prospects of the big news story, that the Bush administration were rarely, if ever, challenged on the need for the second UN resolution!  While I understand why the media may have overlooked the truth behind the invasion of Iraq, I can't condone it.  I also cannot condone any Vice President allegedly lying about something as important as the United States starting a war against a country that was not a viable threat to the United States.  Mr. Parry also alleges other examples of Mr. Cheney's attempts to rewrite history, but the purported lies and the Bush administration's manipulation into a war with Iraq is the most disturbing to me.  I have written in the past about President Obama's failure to follow the rule of law when it came to investigating and prosecuting the Bush administration's role in torturing detainees, but Vice President Cheney would be equally guilty if he lied to the American people before we invaded Iraq, and continued that lie to this very day.

Mr. Parry is not the only commentator who expresses concern over the alleged looseness of Vice President Cheney's facts and view of recent history in his memoir.  "Throughout the book, Cheney makes little effort to emotionally engage his readers. His fictional counterpart Jessup, not surprisingly, used far stronger and more extravagant language in his cinematic courtroom encounter to make the same substantive argument, that unpopular and uncomfortable measures are necessary to protect a country from grave danger. The words here are Nathan Jessup's, but the sentiments are unmistakenly Cheney's as well: "We live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns… my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall."
Jessup was ultimately found guilty in a military trial, while Cheney was instead judged by a court of public opinion. This book is both men's appeal, leaving us with difficult and troubling questions regarding the balance between the sober necessity of our physical safety and the higher moral plane of our democratic ideals." Chicago Tribune

I was especially interested in the Tribune's "higher moral plane of our democratic ideals" statement.  If the Tribune and the rest of our national media had done their job when Cheney was allegedly spreading lies and misconceptions about Saddam Hussein and Iraq before the invasion in 2003, the American public might not have sat back and allowed our government to attack Iraq and stick us with a war, paid on credit cards, that is still costing the American people in lives and dollars.

Is Vice President Cheney telling the truth about his facts about the danger that Saddam Hussein and Iraq posed to the United States?  Did the media fail to do their job when the Bush Administration sold the public on its version of the impending danger in Iraq?  If President Obama is correct, maybe we shouldn't even be concerned that lies may have gotten us into war in Iraq since they happened in the past and we must look forward.  Then again, maybe we should always be concerned with facts or those democratic ideals that the Tribune wrote about could be forever damaged.

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