[Mb-civic] MUST READ-what Bill sent
michael at michaelbutler.com
Mon Nov 7 15:43:26 PST 2005
Date: Mon, 07 Nov 2005 07:18:32 -0500
From: William Swiggard <swiggard at comcast.net>
Subject: [Mb-civic] Deconstructing Cheney - James Carroll - Boston
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By James Carroll | November 7, 2005
THE INDICTMENT of the vice president's chief of staff for perjury and
obstruction of justice is an occasion to consider just how damaging the
long public career of Richard Cheney has been to the United States. He
began as a political scientist devoted to caring for the elbow of Donald
Rumsfeld. As a congressman, Rumsfeld had reliably voted against programs
to help the nation's poor, so (as I recalled in reading James Mann's
''Rise of the Vulcans") it was with more than usual cynicism that
Richard Nixon appointed him head of the Office of Economic Opportunity,
the antipoverty agency. Rumsfeld named Cheney as his deputy, and the two
set out to gut the program-- the beginning of the Republican rollback of
the Great Society, what we saw in New Orleans this fall.
When Rumsfeld became Gerald Ford's White House chief of staff, he again
tapped Cheney as his deputy. Now they set out to destroy detente, the
fragile new relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Dismissing detente as moral relativism, Cheney so believed in Cold War
bipolarity that when it began to melt in the late 1980s, he tried to
refreeze it. As George H.W. Bush's secretary of defense, Cheney was key
to America's refusal to accommodate the hopeful new spirit of the age.
Violence was in retreat, with peace breaking out across the globe, from
the Philippines to South Africa, Ireland, the Middle East, and Central
America. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Cheney forged America's
response -- which was, little over a month later, to wage an illegal war
As Mikhail Gorbachev presided over the nonviolent dismantling of the
Soviet Union, Cheney warned Bush not to trust it. When the justification
for the huge military machine over which Cheney presided disappeared, he
leapt on the next casus belli -- Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.
Hussein, a former ally, was now Hitler.
Against Cheney's own uniformed advisers (notably including Joint Chiefs
Chairman Colin Powell), he forged Washington's choice of violence over
diplomacy. The first Gulf War, remembered by Americans as justified, was
in fact an unnecessary affirmation of military might as the ground of
international order, just as an historic alternative was opening up. US
responses in that period, mainly shaped by Cheney, stand in stark
contrast to Gorbachev's, who, refusing to call on military might even to
save the Soviet Union, was ordering his soldiers back to their barracks.
The unsentimental Cheney, eschewing human rights rhetoric, was explicit
in defining America's Gulf War interest as all about oil. (The oil
industry having made Cheney rich.) Cheney's initiatives, more than any
other's, defined the insult to the Arab world that spawned Al Qaeda.
With all of this as prelude, it seems as tragic as it was inevitable
that Cheney was behind the wheel again when the next fork in the road
appeared before the nation. When the World Trade Center towers were hit
in New York, it was Cheney who told a shaken President Bush to flee. The
true nature of their relationship (Cheney, not Bush, having shaped the
national security team; Cheney, not Bush, having appointed himself as
vice president) showed itself for a moment.
The 9/11 Commission found that, from the White House situation room,
Cheney warned the president that a ''specific threat" had targeted Air
Force One, prompting Bush to spend the day hiding in the bunker at Offut
Air Force Base in Nebraska. There was no specific threat. In Bush's
absence, Cheney, implying an authorizing telephone call from the
president, took command of the nation's response to the crisis. There
was no authorizing telephone call. The 9/11 Commission declined to make
an issue of Cheney's usurpation of powers, but the record shows it.
At world-shaping moments across a generation, Cheney reacted with an
instinctive, This is war! He helped turn the War on Poverty into a war
on the poor. He helped keep the Cold War going longer than it had to,
and when it ended (because of initiatives taken by the other side),
Cheney refused to believe it. To keep the US war machine up and running,
he found a new justification just in time. With Gulf War I, Cheney
ignited Osama bin Laden's burning purpose. Responding to 9/11, Cheney
fulfilled bin Laden's purpose by joining him in the
war-of-civilizations. Iraq, therefore (including the prewar deceit for
which Scooter Libby takes the fall), is simply the last link in the
chain of disaster which is the public career of Richard Cheney.
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