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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/7/14

The Significance of Dick Cheney, Part I

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As I started thinking about what I was going to say about Dick Cheney this time around, I also started thinking about how many times in my time with BuzzFlash have I written about one aspect or another of the man's political and policy being. It added up to quite a few. Indeed I have devoted more column space to Cheney than I have to any other US politician, living or dead. The topics have included the CheneyBush war policy in Iraq, "What Cheney is Really About," "Cheney and the Iraq 'Surge,' " the Dick Cheney Torture Defense, Cheney and "bombing the Constitution," what I called the pernicious legacy of Cheneyism, the permanence of Permanent War (which is the centerpiece of the Cheney Doctrine), and what I called "The Incredible Lightness of Dick Cheney," that is how cleverly the man has been able to get away with everything he has gotten away with. And there were others too.

So all of that on Dick Cheney. "My-oh-my," I said to myself, "how come so many?" The conclusion that I have come to is that Dick Cheney has in fact been the most important U.S. politician and overall policy-maker of the first 14 years of the 21st century. And just now, once again, he has come to the defense of himself and the policies that he has made in his now-famous diatribe against President Obama published recently in the Wall Street Journal. It was entitled "The Collapsing Obama Doctrine: Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many."

Az elnök emberei.  Sorry, I do not know the language, but this is a good image of Dick Cheney, a man who has always spent part of his in the shadows.  And anyway, every other critical column on him features one of those carictatures that make him so (app
Az elnök emberei. Sorry, I do not know the language, but this is a good image of Dick Cheney, a man who has always spent part of his in the shadows. And anyway, every other critical column on him features one of those carictatures that make him so (app
(Image by lwpkommunikacio)
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Indeed, rarely has a former Vice-President so bitterly and viciously attacked a sitting US President, a President who just happens to have two very serious foreign policy crises on his hands, in Ukraine and the Middle East. But Cheney is very worried about his legacy. He is very worried about the political future of the one daughter that he has who might, despite her recent bitter loss in Wyoming, be able to carry it on for him. (He is obviously grooming her to be the next Cheney standard bearer on the Republican Right, even to the extent of allowing her to publicly dis her own gay sister and her sister's family.) But most important is what Cheney, as perhaps the most prominent representative of the currently dominant sector of the US ruling class, is so concerned about in terms of national policy. If you want to embody what has become the Military-Industrial-Fossil-Fuels Complex in one person, Cheney is as good as any other. He is fighting very hard to maintain its present hammerlock on the political economy of the United States.

And so what is the legacy and what are the national polices that Cheney is so concerned about, how is it being threatened by such a Centrist Democrat as President Obama, and how are some of those concerns reflected in the WSJ column? The most important part of the Cheney Doctrine is the establishment of either Permanent War or the Permanent Preparation for Permanent War. Pres. Obama, following the Bush-negotiated agreement which Cheney conveniently neglected to mention, pulled all US combat forces out of Iraq because neither Bush nor on a subsequent occasion, Obama himself (hoping to leave a small "residual" force behind) could negotiate a US-forces-immunity agreement (covering crimes under Iraqi law that might be committed by US service members). And, recognizing that in terms of long-term U.S. interests, the situation is hopeless there, Obama is going to pull US forces out of Afghanistan too. It is much harder to maintain the Permanent Preparation for War when no actual war is going on. Recall also that before 9/11 and the former CIA operative Osama bin Laden, Cheney, as the Halliburton CEO, was involved in negotiations to run one or more natural gas and oil pipelines from Kazakhstan through land-locked Afghanistan to Pakistan and the sea.

Cheney left behind the legacy of torture as national policy. Since the use of torture violates Article VI of the Constitution (same reference), its promotion by Cheney created it the policy of the Executive Branch being able violate the US Constitution whenever it is convenient to do so, as long as some "over-riding national interest" can be cited. (Of course with the drone policy of killing US citizens abroad without due process, Obama has gone there too.) In this regard, Cheney is very concerned that one of the apparent masterminds of the Benghazi murders, Abu Khattala, is not going to Gitmo. Gitmo, of course, is Cheney's former torture center, now re-branded as the "permanent incarceration-without-charges-or-trial center." But remember that when questioned about the torture at Gitmo. Cheney said that he would authorize the same thing over again. So he himself actually sees that as part of his legacy.

In Part 2 of this two-part series we shall visit certain other elements of the Cheney legacy, such as ordering the outing of the former CIA agent Valerie Plame; what the current top-three GOP-termed scandals, the "IRS," the VA (which is a scandal, but just not how the GOP defines the term), and of course "Benghazi," have in common and how they relate to Cheneyite policy; the Promotion of Fear and its importance for Cheneyite policy; and the Privatization of Government, one of the central elements of Cheneyite policy. Finally we shall consider the 2016 Presidential election, and what are the interests of the dominant sector of the ruling class, led in major part by Dick Cheney, in gaining full control of the Federal government.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a "Trusted Author, he is a Senior (more...)
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