Vice President Dick Cheney is on the record. “There is only one way to protect ourselves against catastrophic terrorist violence, and that is to destroy the terrorists before they can launch further attacks against the United States,” he announced during a speech at The Heritage Foundation on Oct. 10.
Many people, including New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, disagree. “The war in Iraq and its aftermath have proved that Mr. Cheney was wrong to think that a show of brute strength would deter our enemies from attacking us. There are improvements in Iraq, but it is still a morass,” she wrote on Oct. 12. “It’s hard to create security when we are the cause of the insecurity.”
Dowd’s wrong, on several counts.
Our aggressive response to terrorists has deterred, or at least prevented, our enemies from attacking us since Sept. 11. If there’s a distinction between deterrence and prevention, it doesn’t matter -- the bottom line is the homeland hasn’t been attacked.
Meanwhile, the war in Iraq took out a dangerous dictator and was an important step toward a more secure world. And we aren’t the cause of the instability in Iraq that Dowd cites. Saddam was.
“Saddam had a lengthy history of reckless and sudden aggression,” as Cheney said. “He also had an established relationship with Al Qaida, providing training to Al Qaida members in the areas of poisons, gases, making conventional bombs.” Iraq -- and the entire world -- will be safer without him.
But give Dowd credit for one thing: at least she’s willing to put her name on her work. That’s more than can be said for some of Cheney’s recent critics.
The cover story in the Oct. 13 U.S. News & World Report set out to expose “Dick Cheney, The Man Behind the Curtain.” Author Kenneth T. Walsh attempted to do that while keeping the vice president’s critics safely concealed.
“I love Dick Cheney as a person, but one of the problems for George W. Bush is that Dick is his vice president” Walsh quotes one source, identified as “a former senior official in George H. W. Bush’s administration.” The source continues, “when hard-line advice is filtered through Dick to the president, it always seems to make sense. When he explains it to you, everything seems reasonable and authoritative. But Cheney has an ideological side. Look at his voting record in Congress.”
Also, “if Cheney were not vice president, it would’ve been different,” Walsh quotes “a Bush family insider” as saying. “The Iraq war situation would’ve been handled differently. There was a rush to judgment to go to war, all filtered through Cheney.”