The Cheney speech to AIPAC — reassuring militant rightwingers in Israel and the US that America is leaning forward on Iran, and that we are never leaving Iraq — was filled with honesty and conviction, and gives us a clear window into the administration’s thinking.
Cheney’s description of terrorists is somewhat emotional and overblown. Calling them “freedom’s enemies,” he comes dangerously close to describing this administration’s id. His emphasis on one-side’s victims in last summer’s war with Lebanon, and his proud silence on the thousands killed, injured, made homeless and jobless by American weaponry is also understandable as he speaks to the AIPAC audience. His “three myths” on Iraq and the so-called war on terror are sermons to a choir that raises its voice demanding America be not a policeman in the Middle East, not an inspiration, but a blustering and imbecilic bodyguard.
But the real truth in Cheney’s speech is found in his sense of urgency. Cheney exhorts Congress to remember 9-11 and damns it for failing to subsume its every decision to the maintenance of the administration’s cultural mythology of that day. He rails at the idea of time limits in Iraq, and suggests that debate in Washington on the role, objectives and cost of our militarism in the Middle East is counterproductive and allows the “enemy” to “watch the clock and wait us out.”
But it is Cheney — not al Qaeda — who is watching the clock now. This former Secretary of Defense understands only too well that the deployment of two battle groups in the Persian Gulf, and the onset of this year’s “spring offensive” in Afghanistan both point to a ticking clock — second-generation shock and awe forces require many months of planning, and a massive logistics tail to support even a short-lived coordinated attack. The clock is indeed ticking, and nothing must get in the way of that. It is not ticking for the occupied Palestinian territories, nor the fractured and dazed Iraqis living out some kind of neo-colonial nightmare. Those efforts are perfectly on track, as hoped for, and AIPAC completely understands this.
It is all about Iran. The U.S. military, from the tone and content of Cheney’s speech, is now ready, and the window is open. The administration may actually be a bit behind in building its public case — at least one as plausible as the false case made by this same administration less than five years ago regarding Iraq. Part of this case-making process entails boxing the Congress, and preventing that body from asserting its collective intellect, refreshing its own collective familiarity with truth, justice, reality and even the Constitution. Iran is back on the table, and the House warning language on Iran stricken.
70% of the American public, and most of the soldiers and Marines in Iraq understand the idiocy, the pointlessness and shoddy logic of this alter-ego “war” we are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, soon Iran and perhaps even Syria. This majority of Americans are beginning to hate Dick Cheney and George W. Bush for what they are doing to our own nation. But the 70% in this country have no important conferences for the political leadership, they have no lobbyists, they have no deep pockets, and they have no rabidly confident sense that they alone have all the answers to the world’s problems. AIPAC, on the other hand, has all these things.
And soon, it is likely they’ll have their desired attacks on Iran. We may soon hear of an accident, an incursion, or a purported attack on our forces. That provocation will force the President to bomb until our bombs run out, and will give the Democrats one more opportunity to prove their abject fealty to war. From what we are hearing of this year’s AIPAC conference, it will be up to a few honest and courageous souls in the Senate, or a revolt of the generals, to stop America’s next war.
LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, has written on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for MilitaryWeek.com, hosted the call-in radio show American Forum, and blogs occasionally for Huffingtonpost.com and Liberty and Power. Archives of her American Forum radio program can be accessed here and here. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here.