The theme of Ferris’ column is that Dick Cheney was “speaking truth to power” when he criticized Nancy Pelosi on Iraq.
Dick Cheney would sooner accidentally shoot the truth in the face than know what is really is, let alone “speak to” it, and why any intelligent life form at this point wouldn’t understand that is an insoluble mystery (though, with this column, I suppose Ferris should automatically be disqualified as an intelligent life form).
Speak truth to power.These remarks are so childish that they almost don’t even merit a response (almost).
The phrase conjures visions of Old Testament patriarchs or civil rights prophets stepping forward in difficult times to utter unpopular, discomfiting truths.
Of course, the phrase loses its power when commonplace. There's nothing biblical or righteous about an MSNBC promo for an announcer who "speaks truth to power," or a senator asking at a confirmation hearing, "Will you speak truth to power?" That's just politics.
So it was encouraging to see a recent example of the real thing.
During a trip to Asia last month, Vice President Cheney, in an ABC News interview, said the troop withdrawal ideas promoted by some leading Democrats were similar to al-Qaeda's plans for Iraq:
"If we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we'll do is validate the al-Qaeda strategy. The al-Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people - in fact, knowing they can't win in a stand-up fight, try to persuade us to throw in the towel and come home, and then they win because we quit... .
I suppose it’s necessary to point out for the thousandth time that at least two-thirds of this country no longer support the Iraq war and have not for some time. So Cheney is saying that we don’t want to fight the legitimate fight against terror?
The Democratic party won Congress last year by stating that we should be redeploying out of Iraq and into Afghanistan and starting to bring our people home in the process (and oh yeah; remember that bin Laden guy? The Democrats want to focus on either capturing him or killing him, which is what all of this should have been about from Day One).
"You can't look at Iraq in isolation. You've got to look at it in terms of its impact, what we're doing in Afghanistan, what we're doing in Pakistan, what we're doing in Saudi Arabia. All those areas are part of the global battlefield... and you can't quit in one place and then persuade all your allies who are helping you in all those other theaters... to continue the fight."Why not? Most of our other allies are quitting. Why should we be the only ones left “holding the bag” in Iraq?
And by the way, Cheney could have given this speech in this country, and did in fact after his Asia appearance, in front of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel lobbying organization in the U.S. As usual, Bushco uses props – in this case, an overseas audience and location – to try and make domestic political points.
How does he know the enemy's intent? They tell us.How sad and tragic that Bushco apparently employs bin Laden as its chief foreign policy consultant.
Here's Osama bin Laden in a 2004 audio message: "The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation. It is raging in the land of the two rivers. The world's millstone and pillar is in Baghdad."
Bin Laden's right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, laid out a plan in a July 2005 letter: "The jihad in Iraq requires several incremental goals. The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or emirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate - over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq. The third stage: Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq. The fourth stage:... the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity."I guess it’s appropriate than one madman would give so much credence to the words of another (dutifully recorded for posterity by Ferris and others of his ilk, of course).
So Cheney was speaking a simple truth: Al-Qaeda wants the United States out of Iraq. And congressional calls to give up, regardless of conditions on the ground or what happens next in the wider war, validate that strategy.Is it worth pointing out to Ferris yet again that he’s saying that the vast majority of the people of this country, by virtue of their opposition to the war, “validate that strategy” also?
That doesn't mean there can be no dissent to current policy. A free society debates issues, and there are plenty of reasons offered to quit: War itself is a mistake. The initial invasion was a mistake. The occupation has been a series of mistakes. Refereeing a sectarian struggle that goes beyond fighting al-Qaeda is a mistake.You could also add that the rationale for this war, being a series of mistakes itself, changed from week to week until it degenerated to its current state (WMD, supposed humanitarian reasons, democratic reforms, the evergreen idiocy of “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here,” etc.)
People will advocate as conscience dictates. All Cheney did was point out that advocacy doesn't occur in a vacuum.That’s “all” he did, huh? No, of course Cheney didn’t engage in name calling or attempts at demonizing the opposition, did he? Only Democrats do that, right Ferris?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) called the vice president's remarks "beneath the dignity of the debate we're engaged in." Wrong. This is precisely the debate we should be engaged in. Everyone wants the war to end, to see the troops safely home. The question is how? Under what terms?But of course, if we engage in the debate, then as far as Ferris and Cheney are concerned, we’ll be “throwing in the towel” and “validating al Qaeda’s strategy.”
Ferris has no problem with a debate. Of course not. As long as we agree with him when the “debate” is over, everything’s fine.
As U.S. leaders try to answer these questions, they can't pretend the discussion is an exchange of theories in a college seminar with no real-world implications.Well, that automatically disqualifies Victor Davis Hanson, doesn’t it (and he wrote something particularly brainless lately that I promise to get to as soon as I can).
Words have meaning. They reassure allies and troops, or worry them. They dishearten enemies, or comfort them. If al-Qaeda's hopes for a precipitative U.S. withdrawal are echoed in congressional resolutions, that's got to be comforting. It may not be the intent, but it's the reality.So, as far as Cheney/Ferris are concerned, Pelosi is merely a delusional nut instead of a coward (takes one to know one, I guess). What a thoughtful response.
Pelosi said Cheney was questioning the "patriotism of those in Congress who challenge the Bush administration's misguided policies in Iraq."
Wrong again. And Cheney's reply was characteristically blunt and on target: "I didn't question her patriotism. I questioned her judgment."
There's reason to question many judgments when it comes to Iraq, but in this case Cheney is right. And he speaks from experience. He worked in the White House 32 years ago, for President Ford, when Southeast Asian allies were abandoned to their enemies. Millions were killed and displaced.Maybe the factors contributing to the outcome of Vietnam are that simple as far as Ferris is concerned, but they are hardly that (geopolitics tilted towards our favor undone by Watergate that shredded Nixon’s credibility, involvement of the Soviet Union in supporting North Vietnam, the blunder of South Vietnamese President Thieu in Campaign 275 after we left that led to the “column of tears” and the eventual fall of Saigon, etc.)
And today, Vietnam has developed into a country with a capitalist economy, so as horrific as the war was, they seem to have rebounded somewhat.
If that nightmare is replayed in Iraq, Pelosi and the anti-war powers will have to answer for the truths they've left unspoken.Wrong, Ferris. You, Cheney and the rest of your neocon sycophants (and, sadly, some Democrats also) will have to answer for your callous disregard for the will of the vast majority of the people of this country, which you treat as something that is utterly irrelevant. As with Vietnam, we want our men and women in the military to start coming home. Now. Today.
And with that in mind, here is the latest from Democracy For America.
All we can do is work as best we can for an end to this Iraq misery.
And actually, in addition to hoping and praying for an exit so our people aren’t targets any more, I’ll also wish that Ferris’ columns in this newspaper are cut back even further, if not removed altogether.