Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cheney's Over-the-top Rhetoric

Former Vice President Richard Cheney spent the first year of his retirement doing everything he can to undermine our president. In perhaps one of his more egregious (they have all been egregious but this especially so) statements to Politico.com this week, the former vice president said the president was downplaying the war on terror so that he can push his domestic agenda.

[W]e are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe, Joe Biden's predecessor told Politico. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society.”

Our president is not, in spite of Cheney's assertions, pretending that we are not in war. In speech after speech, before and after winning the campaign for the White House, he reminded us that we are involved in two wars, one which he intends to "wind down" and one in which we will redouble our efforts. Nor did the president try to hide his intention to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Obama announced his decision in a speech which he delivered in prime time for all to see. We needed to, he said, deny Al Qaeda the safe haven they would otherwise use to plan future attacks on U.S. soil.

Moreover, the U.S. Attorney General, no doubt acting in consultation with the president of the United States, said he will try several war detainees in federal in Manhattan, noting as he announced his decision that they will face his accusers at the scene of the crime they participated in eight years ago. Justice will be meted out by the very ones who were attacked.

The president no doubt has a different strategy to win that war on Islamic terrorists. To the Pakistani administration's dismay, the president has authorized predator drone attacks that extend into Baluchistan. He is doubling down by adding an additional 30,000 troops into the war in Afghanistan. He is aiding Yemen's army as it fights to reconquer land now held by the Taliban within their own country. And he is moving war detainees now held at Guantanamo Bay to Illinois.

This latest move brought him criticism from the left and from the right. His progressive base thinks he is upholding his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center by establishing a new one on the homeland while his conservative opponents say he is tempting fate by creating a new target for terrorism (this even though the blind sheikh who was behind the first World Trade Center attack is being held on U.S. soil).

Much to Mr. Cheney's dismay, our president doesn't believe he needs to beat his chest everyday in order to fight this war against the Islamic terrorists. He might just believe speaking softly and carrying a big stick might be enough to do the job.

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