Nostalgic of the Bush/Cheney Era

June 19, 2009 at 23:00

Some nostalgics of the former administration still view Obama through the lens of Cheney/Bush and their cowboy diplomacy. What did we gain from that reckless, unimaginative, simplistic and reductionist diplomatic approach that is so appealing to the right? We gained the worst attack on American soil. We gained a more potent adversary in North Korea. We emboldened (not weakened!) Iran not only in its staunch pursuit of nuclear technology, and turned it into a power player in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. We sacrificed in Iraq over 4000 young American lives full of promise to satisfy the megalomaniacal tendencies of a Machiavellian duo, caused tens of thousands of our compatriots to be maimed or irremediably injured. We rallied the Muslim world against our interests. We rekindled leftist ideologies.  Socialist fervor and nationalistic sentiment are on the rise, as evidenced by elections all over the world. China has acquired its “lettre de noblesse” in space technology and is poised to become a space militaristic superpower. That’s the diplomatic legacy of the past eight years, of which some folk are madly nostalgic.

If Obama is being tested by the events in Iran, he is handling the test superbly well. I appreciate his measured, calm, thoughtful approach. The best way to botch the popular action that is taking place in Iran would be for America, with its history of meddling into the intestine affairs of other states, to proffer fiery and opportunistic statements along the line of the “axis of evil” rhetoric. Make no mistake about it, this movement is above all a nationalistic one that doesn’t need outside interference. We should not try to claim paternity over this internal show of force by the Iranian people. Let it play out. The era of cowboy boot diplomacy is over. The Iranian regime needs a scapegoat to crack down on the movement; and they hope to find it in the “Great Satan”. Let’s be smart.

If anything, Obama should be credited for that popular effervescence. A year ago, scenes like this would be inconceivable. A month ago, unimaginable… until Obama’s fatidic speech in Cairo. That was the game changer. Call it naiveté, if you will. By the way, wasn’t it one of the epithets or campaign slogans that miserably failed last fall? Hmm!!!

WWW says:

June 20, 2009 at 05:19
What did we gain from that reckless,unimaginative, simplistic and reductionist diplomatic approach that is so appealing to the right? We gained the worst attack on American soil.

You do realize that 9/11 was already in motion before Bush/Cheney took office right?  So what you are saying is that it was Clinton/Gore who brought on this attack.  But i understand how you could come to this conclusion, if i didn’t know anything about military planning and operations i would use a simple timeline association as well.  It’s ok no need to feel bad about your mistake, not everybody the instestinal [sic] fortitude to do what it takes to gain such knowledge, after all somebody has to take all those liberal arts classes. Right?
Etzer Cantave replies:
June 20, 2009 at 13:15
Let me see if I get it. Should a man-made calamity (terrorist act) strike us at this moment, Obama should blame it on Bush? Right? How about three months from now? Still Bush, right? So, at what point should a sitting president take responsibility for actions that occur on his/her watch?
The argument that 9/11 could or should be blamed on Clinton is ludicrous. Bush/Cheney dropped the ball in September 2001. They wish they could take it back. For them, the Bush/Cheney era started on September 12, 2001. As they say, failure is an orphan.

YYY says:
June 20, 2009 at 05:23
“Make no mistake about it, this movement is above all a nationalistic one that doesn’t need outside interference. We should not try to claim paternity over this internal show of force by the Iranian people.”
A full four sentences later:
“If anything, Obama should be credited for that popular effervescence. A year ago, scenes like this would be inconceivable. A month ago, unimaginable… until Obama’s fatidic speech in Cairo. That was the game changer.”
You don’t beleive yourself, hopefully no one else is foolish enough to listen to you either.

XXX says:
June 20, 2009 at 05:52
Heh … yeah, it was the Cairo speech that did it – not the opposition movement that has been building for decades in Iran and finally was spurred into protest by an obviously rigged election.
I love lectures that are based on some fantasy which only exist between the ears of the lecturer, don’t you?

Etzer Cantave replies:
June 20, 2009 at 14:23
As they say, timing is everything. The timing of the Cairo speech might not be fortuitous–a week or so before the elections. Let’s recall that up that point, Ahmadinejad was leading in the polls by a large margin. I grant you that social discontent has been brewing inside Iran for a long time, that conditions were ripe for the change agents to challenge the status quo. Yet, as in chemistry (at least from what I remember from my chemistry classes), a catalyst is often needed to spur certain elements into a chemical reaction. The speech may just have served as a catalyst that urged on the dissenting forces inside Iran to take action. What also helped was the hasty communiqué of the Interior Ministry sealing Ahmadinejad’s so-called landslide victory. One thing is certain. Once the reaction is in play, it takes a life of its own; it doesn’t need more of the catalyst. Injecting more of the catalyst may even be counter-productive. I hope this analogy makes the point for a tactful handling of the political unrest in Iran.

June 20, 2009 at 05:44
The 9/11 attack: 
The muslims have been waging war on the West for 1200 years.  The Ottoman Turks fought against us in WWI.  Radical islam supported the Nazis in WWII.
The sleeper cells were in place when Bush took office.  Jamie Gerelick put a wall between the FBI and the CIA, neither agency could connect the dots.  If Richard Clarke knew so much, why didn’t he pop Osama on Clinton’s watch?
Relatively speaking, our losses have been light.  In Vietnam, a war of similar duration, we had 58,249 dead.
If “caused tens of thousands to be maimed or irremediably injured” refers to al Qaeda, Baathist or Mahdi IEDs or attacks without regard for their own civilians, why is that our fault?
Call it “coyboy diplomacy” if you like, but it kept us from being attacked again.  We will see if “home boy” diplomacy can do as well.
About North Korea:
Madeline Albright cut a deal with Kim Jong Il including $4B and a nuclear power plant in exchange for shutting down his nuke weapons program.  Clinton was unaware of North Korean non-compliance.
We could have hit them, but the South Koreans did not want us to attack.  Neither did the democrats, the Chinese, the Russians, or the Japanese.  What would be the price of an attack? War on the Korean Peninsula?  War with China? North Korea has 1,000,000 special forces.  Our presence is 50,000 troops.  Eisenhower was right when he told Kennedy to avoid a land war in Asia.
What is likely to happen is that the South Koreans, the Japanese and the Taiwanese will go nuclear.  The Japanese already have every thing they need.  If they decided to do it, they could detonate a device in weeks. It would take the others 6 months.  The big loser would, of course, be China.
Is Obama still going to scale back or cancel missile defense?

Etzer Cantave
June 20, 2009 at 15:38
Your argumentation is factual and lends itseld to an enjoyable read. I don’t take issue with the facts, but rather with the interpretation of the facts. I don’t feel we are drastically far apart.
Where you lost me, though, is when you say “Relatively speaking, our losses have been light. In Vietnam, a war of similar duration, we had 58,249 dead.”
To me, the Iraq war stands alone in American History as a gratuitous act of demented proportions. Regarding Vietnam, as ill-advised as it was, strategic grounds could be invoked for fighting that bloody war–cold war, hegemonic implications… As for Iraq, I still cannot fathom why we invaded that country. It was a war of convenience. A war of commodity. Or, rather, a war over a commodity. Oil. Any death in Iraq is one too many!

BBB says:
June 20, 2009 at 05:10

            “We sacrificed over 4000 young American lives full of promises to satisfy the megalomaniacal  tendencies of Machiavellian duo, caused tens of thousands to be maimed or irremediably injured.”…

            Such partisan shallowness, here are a few reminders for you.
If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program.
– President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998
Iraq is a long way from (the United States), but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.
– Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998
He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has 10 times since 1983.
– Sandy Berger, Clinton’s national security adviser, Feb. 18, 1998
(We) urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs.
– Oct. 9, 1998, letter to President Clinton signed by Sens. Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry and others
Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology, which is a threat to countries in the region, and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.
– Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Dec. 16, 1998
Hussein has … chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies.
– Madeline Albright, Clinton’s Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999
There is no doubt that … Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status.
– Dec. 5, 2001, letter to President Bush, signed by Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla. and others
We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country. Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.
– Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002
We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.
– Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., Sept. 27, 2002
I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force – if necessary – to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.
– Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Oct. 9, 2002

Etzer Cantave says:
June 20, 2009 at 12:49
I fail to see the point of your recitation of past facts. Is it to argue that the Bush/Cheney foolhardy adventure in Iraq was worth the sacrifices in blood, treasure, and reputation we endured? For what those pointed remarks are worth, I don’t see anyone advocating a full-scale invasion of that country. At best, they seemed to endorse punctual surgical operations. I feel the litany of diplomatic actions, posturing and pressuring you cited, exonerates my view that war should not be waged casually, based on flimsy evidence, gratuitous innuendos, whims or gut feeling… Four thousand plus American lives, twenty plus thousand severely wounded compatriots, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis’, $1 trillion in treasury—portion of which filled the pockets of cronies such as Halliburton & Co., that is what this blunder cost us under the Bush/Cheney tandem. What are not quantifiable and might even cost more, though, are the intangibles—loss of credibility around the world, radicalization of a growing sector of the international opinion, the distrust of our traditional allies, the resurgence of nationalistic feelings ill-disposed to our interests.

No one disputes that Saddam was an awful character, who deserved the wrath of the international community. So was Kim Jon Il of North Korea. The Asian leader was not just suspected of developing weapons of mass destruction. At the time of the run-up to the Iraq War, he was known to possess them; and he bragged about it. Allies of ours—South Korea and Japan— as well as 40,000 of our troops were directly exposed to those weapons. Why did we not mount an offensive against North Korea? Oh! I see: Kim Jon Il had no connection to 911, but Saddam did… Right!

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