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Cheney's Deadly 'Last Throes' | The Nation

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John Nichols

John Nichols

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Cheney's Deadly 'Last Throes'

Vice President Dick Cheney, who predicted on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, that Americans would be "greeted as liberators," has in recent weeks been peddling a new line of spin.

If Cheney was not in charge of U.S. foreign policy, he could be dismissed as a ranting lunatic. But, because of his title, and because the former Secretary of Defense is the dominant player in the Bush administration when it comes to military policy, Cheney has to be taken seriously -- as seriously, that is, as his bizarro worldview permits.

Unfortunately, the primary reason to take Cheney seriously is the fact that Americans and Iraqis are dying because of the policies he has promoted. And, of course, because those same policies are emptying the U.S. Treasury into the quagmire that is Iraq.

So it is appropriate to try and hold Cheney accountable.

And it is not difficult to do so.

Here is what Cheney said during a June 20, 2005, interview on CNN's Larry King Live:

Hailing what he described as "major progress" in Iraq, Cheney said, "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

Here is what the Associated Press reported from Iraq on August 3, 2005, less than two months after Cheney asserted that the insurgency was fading away:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Fourteen U.S. Marines and a civilianinterpreter were killed Wednesday in western Iraq, theU.S. command said.

The Marines, assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2ndMarine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force(Forward), were killed in action early Wednesday whentheir vehicle was hit by an improvised explosivedevice, the military said. One Marine was also woundedin the attack.

The Associated Press report goes on to note that:

The latest losses come on the heels of the deaths ofseven U.S. Marines in combat two days ago in thevolatile Euphrates Valley of western Iraq. TheAmerican deaths come as the Bush administration istalking about handing more security responsibility tothe Iraqis and drawing down forces next year.

At least 39 American service members have been killedin Iraq since July 24 - all but two in combat. Inaddition, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said that sincethe beginning of April, more than 2,700 Iraqis - abouthalf of them civilians - had been killed ininsurgency-related incidents.

It looks as if the last throes that Cheney was discussing with Larry King have turned out to be death throes for the young American men and women who are serving in Iraq, as well as for the Iraqi people.

Any attempt to address Cheney's rhetorical excesses brings to mind the words of a young veteran from another misguided and unnecessary war.

"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam?" young John Kerry asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

Cheney has come up with a contemporary answer for that question.How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Iraq? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

For Cheney, that's simple: Just keep telling the young men and women who are marching to their deaths that they will be greeted as liberators and that the enemy is so weak that it is in its "last throes."

In other words, just keep spinning a slurry of fantasy and lies into U.S. policy.

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John Nichols' book on Cheney, Dick: The Man Who Is President, was published by The New Press. Former White House counsel John Dean, the author of Worse Than Watergate, says, "This page-turner closes the case: Cheney is our de facto president." Arianna Huffington, the author of Fanatics and Fools, calls Dick, "The first full portrait of The Most Powerful Number Two in History, a scary and appalling picture. Cheney is revealed as the poster child for crony capitalism (think Halliburton's no bid, cost-plus Iraq contracts) and crony democracy (think Scalia and duck-hunting)."

Dick: The Man Who Is President is available from independent bookstores nationwide and at www.amazon.com*****************************************************************

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