Cheney and Bush believed that Iraq was ripe for a modern, pluralistic democracy, and the hostile clerics running Iran would be the next to fall. Those were two more sadly mistaken beliefs.
The fact is that Iraq has never recovered from the poor policy choices imposed by Dick Cheney and George Bush, as foreign policy experts like Trudy Rubin and others have noted. The Iraqi army can barely function, as seen in their recent retreat in the face of the initial onslaught of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Civil Iraqi society is hamstrung by incompetent and corrupt managers. Our ouster of Hussein gave rise to an often vindictive Shiite majority rule in Iraq and directly expanded Iran's influence over their former adversary. Disaffected Sunni militants joined with al Qaeda offshoots and gave ISIS its golden opportunity.
Now, in the face of all of this abject failure, Dick Cheney is saying that it is actually President Obama's fault. Really? Let's review Cheney's brazen hypocrisy.
In a recent opinion column in the Wall Street Journal, Cheney wrote, "When Mr. Obama" came into office in 2009, al Qaeda in Iraq had been largely defeated." This totally ignores the fact that al Qaeda did not exist at all in Iraq before the Bush invasion. Saddam was a murderous tyrant, but he was contained by international sanctions and possessed only conventional weapons, and the vacuum caused by his overthrow and the subsequent government dysfunction gave al Qaeda a foothold in Iraq for the first time.
Cheney wasn't finished. He wrote, "Now, in a move that defies credulity, [Obama] toys with the idea of ushering Iran into Iraq." But it was Bush-Cheney policies that led to the vastly increased influence of the Shiite Iranian clerics over the dysfunctional Shiite Iraqi government. Dick Cheney, not Barack Obama, opened the door in Iraq for the hard-line clerics of Iran to enter.
Then Cheney went on Fox News and told Sean Hannity, "When we left, Iraq was in pretty good shape, we had the situation pretty well squared away when we departed." Baloney. Iraq has been a mess from the time Dick Cheney started calling the shots there.
Commenting on the recent gains of ISIS, Cheney told Hannity, "The Iraqi military just collapsed" so now we have a terrible, difficult relationship on our hands "primarily because of both Maliki and Obama." But it was Cheney and Bush that disbanded the Iraqi army in 2003, and it has never recovered. And it was the heavy-handed, punitive policies of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki toward the Sunni minority and the Kurds that caused increased sectarian violence and unrest in Iraq. Maliki was handpicked by the Bush administration in May 2006 to succeed the failed Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, thirty-one months before Barrack Obama became president.
Cheney topped off his interview with Sean Hannity with the following: "President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom." Maybe the right-wing Obama haters admire this overblown rhetoric, but it is unseemly for a former Vice President, regardless of party.
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