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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dick Cheney’s Op-Ed And The Return Of The Neocon

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney listens as his wife Lynne Cheney speaks about her book "James Madison: A Life Reconsidered" May 12, 2014 in Washington, DC. ( Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz Cheney authored an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal with the subtitle “Rarely has a U.S. President been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.” Dick Cheney is pictured here on May 14, 2014 in Washington, D.C. ( Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Architects and proponents of the Iraq War are now back with criticism of President Obama’s foreign policy.

Leading the group is former Vice President Dick Cheney, who co-wrote an op-ed with his daughter Liz Cheney in today’s Wall Street Journal. The subtitle reads, “Rarely has a U.S. President been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”

Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, discusses what neoconservatives are saying about President Obama and Iraq with Here & Now’s Robin Young.




Former Vice President Dick Cheney, one of the main architects of the Iraq war, wrote a blistering op-ed in today's "Wall Street Journal" eviscerating President Obama's handling of Iraq and his foreign policy in general. One line reads rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many. Well, it's a line that's launched a thousand retorts including this from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: Being on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is being on the right side of history. But other backers of the Iraq war, the so-called neocons, have also been speaking out on the current crisis in Iraq. Here's Bill Kristol, editor of the Conservative Weekly Standard on ABC's "This Week."


BILL KRISTOL: It is a disaster, Donna's right. It's a disaster unfortunately made possible or certainly made more likely by our ridiculous and total withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. President Obama said two days before election day in 2012, Al Qaida's on the path to defeat. The war in Iraq is over. That was enough to get him reelected, but how does it look today?

YOUNG: And here's Paul Wolfowitz on ABC's "Meet the Press." He was George Bush's Deputy Defense Secretary and was asked if he and others in the Bush administration underestimated the level of sectarian hatred in Iraq.


PAUL WOLFOWITZ: This is more than just an obscure Shia-Sunni conflict this is Al Qaida, and Al Qaida is not on the road to defeat. Al Qaida's on the march, not just in Iraq - in Syria and Libya and we have real enemies in the United States and what we should be looking for are friends.

YOUNG: By the way, NPR and other news outlets are reporting that the militants in Iraq are not al-Qaida. So what to make of this? Gideon Rose is with us from the studios of the Council of Foreign Relations. He's the editor of Foreign Policy Affairs. And, Gideon, those opposed to going into Iraq in the first place have been screaming about this return of the neocons but just stay with Dick Cheney's op-ed today. Your thoughts when you saw that?

GIDEON ROSE: Well, it almost read like it was a parody because it was so unself-reflective and so over the top that it was, as if it was generated by some kind of Obama-attack computer rather than the former vice president of the United States. But the interesting thing to me about all this is how distanced it all seems from the actual policy debates. I mean, a decade and change ago Iraq was at the center of U.S. foreign policy and the people in charge and in power running Iraq policy were considered major authoritative experts. And with the collapse of the war over so many years- not only has - and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from combat - not only has Iraq moved to a certain extent to the periphery, but the people who were essentially involved in Iraq policy have moved into retirement or the sidelines, and I don't think anybody is really taking them a whole - very seriously these days.

YOUNG: Well, but they are being invited onto a lot of talk shows. James Fallows says that he's - had just written a sincere call for respect for, as he said, those who had set the stage for today's disaster -respect for their silence as their successors try to choose the least terrible options. But then he writes in the Atlantic that he had to write today that he had to withdraw that call for respect of him, because of the Cheney op-ed. And he points out how there were voices in the run-up to the war saying that Iraq would be destabilized if Saddam Hussein was removed and Cheney poignantly said, I think the opposite will happen. So you say people are ignoring them, but people are not ignoring them - their being invited to air their views.

ROSE: I said people are ignoring them. I don't think the media is ignoring them. The fact is that what you've seen is that we used to have something resembling a real political debate in this country over policies, and what you have now is a sort of media scrum every day in which the partisan defenders of each side duke it out. And I think that the former Iraq policy officials and the neocons are being brought out on various media outlets now as today's version of the anti-Obama attack-points this week, but not actually part of a real foreign policy debate over what to happen next.

YOUNG: Yeah. So the neocons are back trying to make the case that President Obama spoiled what would have been a success in Iraq. But on the other hand, you have conservative radio host Glenn Beck, uber conservative, making this pretty astonishing statement yesterday, saying that liberals were right on Iraq.


GLENN BECK: They said we couldn't force freedom on people. You know what, let me lead with my mistakes. You're right. Liberals you were right. We shouldn't have. Now, if you believed those things, let me say you were right. If you were just using it for political purposes, well, then I can't - we don't have anything in common.

YOUNG: But Gideon that - liberals, you were right we should not have gone into Iraq from Glenn Beck. Are you surprised at that?

ROSE: Well, you know, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified five stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance - and different people have gone through those stages at different rates. Some are still in the denial aspect, some have moved on to bargaining or anger. Many are still in depression. And it seems like Beck has moved on to acceptance. And it's amusing to me that he would be out in front of that pack, but the Republican Party in particular has never really dealt with Iraq. They've put it behind them but they haven't addressed the question of whether it was a good idea and if not, what were the problems with it. And that's fascinating because it has allowed people like Rand Paul, who have a more libertarian approach to foreign policy, to gain more space in Republican debates than they would otherwise, precisely because the center of the Republican Party no longer really knows what to do about Iraq. So you have neocons and libertarians, but with nobody sort of in the middle.

YOUNG: Well, you have David Frum, who again was a staunch supporter of the war whose writing today, I don't support - supporting the Iraqi government, this Iraqi government - they are not our friends. So he, again, a strong supporter of the invasion but not a supporter as many of the neocons now are, of going in and helping the Maliki government. The Atlantic's James Fallow, as I mentioned him before, he also writes - we all make mistakes but we're talking about people in public life, writers, politicians academics who got the biggest strategy call in many decades completely wrong. They helped create the disaster Iraqis and others are now dealing with. They've earned the right not to be listened to. Do you agree with that - that neocons should not be invited to the debate at the table?

ROSE: I think it really depends - I think you have to press a little more closely in a more fine-grained way. Anybody who was saying that let's say the 9/11 attacks were linked to al-Qaida - that person should not part of mainstream debate anymore because it was just a crazy conspiracy theory - never had any basis in the truth. Anybody who was saying that - sorry the 9/11 attacks were linked to Iraq rather than al-Qaida.

YOUNG: Right. Right, right, right.

ROSE: And of course there were a lot of people who were. Those should be kicked out of debate. People who were saying that Iraq had weapons of mass distraction or had unconcealed weapons programs, that was actually conventional wisdom in security bureaucracies in America and other countries. So it proved to be wrong but wasn't necessarily rules for being read out of debate. The people who said, you could invade Iraq cheaply, easily, and quickly and walk away from it without consequence - that was the most serious of the policy failures that people in power actually made and I think, therefore, I would draw a big distinction between someone that would say like a Donald Rumsfeld...

YOUNG: You've got to wrap it up.

ROSE: ...And someone like Ken Pollack or Fred Kagan.

YOUNG: Gideon Rose of the Council of Foreign Relations. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • BlueNH

    He should be in jail, not penning op-eds against the President.

  • Frog

    What about another one of the main architects of the Iraq War was Colin Powell…remember that guy that went in front of the United Nations to argue for the War? He is on the same Council on Foreign Relations as the guest.

  • JBSpurr

    Gideon Rose’s statement during his interview with Robin that the claim of Iraqi possession of WMB remains retrospectively acceptable because it was widely held at the time defies the simple fact that it was not just Saddam Hussein who claimed they no longer existed, but the formal UN-based investigation that had turned up nothing. Conventional wisdom is frequently anything but the truth, and the other point of view was passionately argued at the time. He also failed to note the Bush administration’s deception ( or crime): promoting the oxymoronic idea that the Iraqi regime was in cahoots with al-Qaeda, which is different from the notion that it was behind 9/11 attach. That said, a survey of passersby in Harvard Square, Cambridge MA (of all places) in early 2003 found 67% who assumed that the Saddam regime WAS involved in the 9/11, for what other possible reason could there be for the impending invasion. If the New York Times could lap up Bush regime propaganda and disinformation, it is no surprise that the man on the street did. Those who promoted it have lost all standing to make any statement short of an apology.

  • Disgusted

    What is the media giving a voice to someone who has been discredited and proven so wrong about the middle east and US foreign policy.

  • Hogandda

    Why does Terry and all most all the other ‘talk show host’ never correct the guest or they acquiesce to the view that Obama withdrew the troops too early and that he should have kept them there longer. They never remind whose talking or the audience that it was GWB who signed a treaty with Iraq in 2008 to have all troops out by Jan 1, 2012. GWB set the time line. Iraq decided in 2011 that they wanted the US out and refused to sign a Status of Forces Agreement so we left. So this is just another ‘gift’ GWB left Obama and the neo-cons conveniently forget it. As does Terry.

    • Frog

      Good point. Terry is always doing that.

  • Cacimo

    Wow. The sheer arrogance of Rose is galling. Obama has been President for five years – how is handling foreign policy. Obama seems to be getting failing grades from both Democrats and Republicans at home and is viewed negatively on the world stage.

  • William Thon

    hopefully with our First Woman president (Warren or Clinton) we can urge them to throw caution to the wind and INVESTIGATE the lead up to war with fear and lies Get the truth out so these men are all shamed and humiliated and serving time

    • ocdhickson

      Wow you made me throw up a little in my mouth there with the ‘you didn’t build that’ Warren idea.

      I seriously doubt that Clinton will investigate the run up to the war since she voted for the war resolution.

      • William Thon

        what, you want to give him a medal?

        • ocdhickson

          What him are you talking about, Hillary?

  • LaurenceGlavin

    Rachel Maddow has the opening block of her eponymous TV show on MSNBC tonight already written. It should be great.

  • Rick Evans

    The chicken-hawks come home to roost over the hatchlings from what they laid.

  • Kate Richardson

    Your guest Mr. Rose must have had his head stuck in the echo chamber if he believes ‘everyone knew’ or ‘everyone was fooled’ about Iraq WMD on the run-up to the war. The manipulation of information and intelligence on that point was not hidden. Example: The new Pentagon papers – Salon.com. Suggest in future you get more reliable ‘experts’ than Mr. Rose.

    • themeasureofaman

      He had his head stuck up somewhere all right!

  • Raoul

    Dick Cheney should be the poster old man for Alzheimer disease along with dementia. Actually Dick should be jailed for crimes against humanity and not a spokesperson for any type of Dick Cheney foreign policy on Fox Television or the Wall Street Journal. If Dick wants to shock and awe Iraq [AGAIN] then let Dick’s daughters join the U.S. Marines in order to make up for the shame of Dick’s five [5] deferments during the Vietnam era.
    I am assuming Iraq sales it’s oil to many nations on planet earth, therefore, if Dick wants boots on the ground action along with Shock & Awe Cheney tactless tactics, then it must be a joint venture by all nations doing oil business in Iraq to kick ISIS out of the oil fields Iraq or any place in the Mideast, otherwise when it is all over America will once more be blamed for the bombing. The Malki Shiite exclusive government is the main problem (one of many) if you side with the Iraqi’s Shite government one is in bed with Tehran. If you side with the revenging Sunnis one is the arch enemy of the Iranians. If you are a Christian right wing nut making policy in the Mideast, one is the enemy of Islam. It is a no win game in the Mideast. Dick Cheney’s mental basis is clouded by dreams of oil and the control of the oil wealth of Iraq which keep’s Dick in the limelight. Bullies all think the same – in his high school years and part of his college years Dick was in a lot of trouble for his bullying methods. The other conveniently overlooked problem, which appears to be a moot topic with Dick’s nut bunch is this: The last Shock and Awe was the most penetrating of any war in history. The penetration by the bombing of Baghdad to get “one person” ruined the infrastructure of Iraq which took a decade to rebuilt and is still in the rebuilding process. If you do another Cheney Shock & Awe tactic which includes destroying buildings once more we will set the Iraqis back another ten or more years. However, like in America, infrastructure repair including building new infrastructure does not mean much to billionaires like Dick Cheney and his faux patriots.
    What would I do:
    I would use aircraft in a joint venture (pronto) along with [other nations] including the Saudi’s who are most likely funding ISIS to bomb ISIS out of the oil fields of Iraq including the Mideast and force the Maliki to use the Iraqi army and weapons we sold him (most likely via Haliburton) to clear out ISIS from Iraqi cities without American soldiers, after all, these oil fields are the life blood of Iraq and provide a semblance of peace in the Mideast for a period of time, before they go at each other’s throats once again to see who god loves best. These Mideast religious wars have been on going for at least 2,000 years, so long, that it is part of the DNA of the Mideast. Last: Place Dick Cheney under house arrest or at least but him to bed in a retirement home for the aged along with John McCain.

  • realistgym

    I love this guy; “they were wrong (previously), so they should be kicked out of the debate”. Obviously, we only want like minded individuals involved in ANY “debate”.
    By this gold standard we need to kick out half of congress and a president who have been oh-so-wrong on so many issues: “if you like your doctor (insurance), you can keep…” etc. What a fascist.
    And the host never thought to ask about the suppression of free speech and flow of ideas?

  • Doctor_GOP

    Well. Speaking of being “discredited”, many of you here may feel that way with your anti-Bush/Cheney opinions after reading the headline from the UK Telegraph just minutes ago:” Iraq crisis: Isis jihadists ‘seize Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons stockpile’. Wall Street Journal confirms in separate story. Apparently, the worry is great that the ISIS killers now possess Sarin, VK and other WMDs that could easily be used in Bagdhad. PROBLEM for those of your who said Cheney lied about WMD in Iraq.

  • Doctor_GOP

    Another UK Telegraph story today:
    “Chemical weapons produced at the Al Muthanna facility, which Isis today seized, are believed to have included mustard gas, Sarin, Tabun, and VX. Stockpiles of chemical munitions are still stored there. The most dangerous ones… are sealed in bunkers. These areas of the compound pose a hazard to civilians and potential black marketers”.
    “Numerous bunkers, including eleven cruciform shaped bunkers were exploited. Some of the bunkers contained large quantitiesof unfilled chemical munitions, conventional munitions, one-ton shipping containers, production equipment (presumed disabled under UNSCOM supervision), and other hazardous industrial chemicals.”
    “Nonetheless, the capture of the chemical-weapon stockpile by the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, known as ISIS or ISIL, the militant group that is seizing territory in the country, has grabbed the attention of the U.S.”

    “We remain concerned about the seizure of any military site by the ISIL,” Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said in a written statement.
    Sounds like an admission that there WERE clearly WMDs both created and stored by Hussein just as was stated in UN Resolution 19 just before the war was begun…just what US/UK intelligence had maintained.

    • enat

      So if they were there why didn’t we find them? Are you sure this isn’t bait to get us back in there?

      • Doctor_GOP

        Again, from today’s UK Telegraph: “…chemical weapons from Saddam Hussein’s regime are stored in two sealed bunkers, both located at the Al Muthanna Chemicals Weapons Complex, a large site in the western desert some 80km north west of Baghdad.”
        No, I don’t believe that the expertise of ISIS is sufficient for them to activate and launch such toxins as Sarin and VK. Using these WMD compounds is possible but not likely. But that is really not the main take-away from this news…

        The main point of my posting it to show how the vast majority of posters here and indeed the media of multiple countries went out of their ways to INSIST that Bush/Cheney/Powell/the UN Security Council ALL conspired to lie about the existence of Saddam’s stock of WMD. The liberal leftists presented a unified hard-line narrative that such WMD were non-existent and therefore the main reason for the post-9/11 invasion of Iraq was predicated upon a lie.

        We now know (thank you Telegraph and WSJ) that the lies did not come from the Bush/Cheney/Powell/UN Security Council group: they came from the leftists. It is the unceasing propaganda that is seen daily on sites such as NPR, Daily Beast, Salon, MoveOn, MSNBC, etc. that denies the truth…for their own political agenda.

  • enat

    Dick Cheney is at it again…calling ISIS al Queda, next he will say ISIS was responsible for 9/11. He and his daughter should let the president handle this as he and his advisors see fit and stop lying again in order to put the fear of God into the American people.

    • Doctor_GOP

      Since you are demanding precision of attribution, you should have done your research and then you would know that ISIS (ISIL) is an offshoot of al Queda that was “booted out” for being TOO VIOLENT! As for Obama handling this, the only thing he handles well that he hasn’t broken (yet) is his 9-iron. The man’s foreign policy is a bad joke and he has succeeded in giving America something I never thought I’d see again: Jimmy Carter’s failed economy and Richard Nixon’s non-stop lies.

  • realistgym

    A day later, I must follow up, having listened to this again. At about 3 minutes in, this guy bemoans that we “used to have something in this country resembling real political debate” yet four minutes later he’s stating that those who were “wrong” should be “kicked out of the debate” Is that the only way to win a debate, get rid of dissent? More interesting, however, is his snickering statement that those cons were so wrong in their assessment of the WMD existence. ONE DAY LATER, there are a multitude of reports online that ISIS has “seized” Saddam’s chemical weapons “stockpile”. How could this “expert” be so wrong, when he’s h.ad so long to learn the truth? I respectfully request that Ms. Young get him back on and ask him to justify himself. And she needs to offer some justification for not confronting him on his desire to squash honest debate. Let’s request some honesty here.

    And by the way, why did you remove my previous post? Can I request some editorial honesty here?

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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