Monday, August 13, 2007

Cheney's change of heart

Compare and contrast:

Which one is the neocon?

Gore's quips are easy to figure out--he was running for office and had to attack Bush 41's perceived strengths. Turns out he was only echoing a theme that would continue throughout the entire Clinton administration, a theme that would one day became a "lie" when Bush invoked it a few years later.

But shouldn't Cheney also be accused of duplicitous rhetoric? While it's a no-brainer to these people, the question cannot completely be explained by politics. Victor Davis Hansen recently pondered the dichotomy of stratagems used between Gulf War and Iraqi Freedom, yet they largely remain a mystery. Some would explain everything by saying "oil" (history would seem to support it) but was it the only factor?

Indeed, Cheney's comments prove that despite popular opinion the Bush administration had a deep understanding of the Middle East prior to the invasion in 2002. The Veep, more than anyone, knew the risks involved with removing Saddam yet proceeded to press forward anyway despite the counsel of trusted friends like Scowcroft and Baker, who opposed the plan. The picture is now even more muddied as his 1994 predictions slowly seem to be coming true.

We've heard the left's explanation--he lapsed into dementia; became paranoid after 9/11; bought into the Lauri Mylroie theory that Saddam was complicit in first World Trade Center bombing; Ahmed Chalabi; or Halliburton.

What about the man himself? Stephen Hayes covered the above question in his new book. Beginning on page 378 the topic goes to Saddam's support for terror. Like in Tenet's book, Hayes goes to the sessions Cheney had with CIA analysts at Langley:
Cheney and his staff pressed the issue. Why had Saddam put Alluhu akbar on the Iraqi flag after the Gulf War? Why did he finance religious extremists? And what about the many reports of a non-aggression pact between Iraq and al Qaeda?
Just as Tenet described, some of these sessions were embarrassing for the Regional CIA analysts because Libby and Cheney seemed to know more about Iraq than they did. Stunning, really, but no less stunning than Tenet's assertion of Egyptian Islamic Jihad members reported to be flowing to Baghdad in 2002. The CIA did not use the term "al Qaeda" to describe these players. Cheney, from page 387:
He returned the report to the CIA with a question: Would it be accurate to substitute "al Qaeda" for every mention of "Egyptian Islamic Jihad"?
They reluctantly answered "yes". Beginning to get the picture?

You can read Cheney's explanation at the end of the chapter and yes, Hayes is a partisan writer for the Weekly Standard, which must be considered. But it's hard to come away thinking Iraq was all about the oil.

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