Vice President Dick Cheney, keeping as far from federal prosecutors as possible these days, arrived in Japan Wednesday to officially thank that country for supporting the Bush-Cheney administration’s invasion and occupation of Iraq.
What made the trip absurd was that Cheney was campaigning for a war that he wanted, plotted and defended with a disregard not just for the laws of the land but for reality. And what made it ludicrous was that he was thanking an ally that is not exactly in the alliance.
Japan was a part of the original “coalition of the willing” — more precisely referred to as the “coalition of the coerced” – that signed on for the quagmire run.
But Japan pulled its troops out of Iraq last year.
The Japanese still provide a minimal number of airlifts in support of U.S. operations in the Middle East, but even that mission is set to end in July.
So Cheney was thanking a country that is essentially, and quite happily, out of the coalition.
If the Japan Appreciation Day mission was bizarre, the vice president’s speech in a hangar bay at the Yokosuka Naval Base near Tokyo was downright delusional. “The American people will not support a policy of retreat,” Cheney chirped. “We want to complete the mission, we want to get it done right, and then we want to come home, with honor.”
Exactly who are these “American people” the vice president is communing with?
Not the overwhelming majority of Americans who tell pollsters they want the U.S. to exit Iraq.
Not the clear majority of Americans who voted last November for a Democratic Congress charged with the task of bringing the troops home.
And not the American president who cheerfully accepted the decision of British Prime Minister Tony Blair to substantially reduce that country’s boots on the ground in Iraq – as well as the decision of the Danes to withdraw from the endeavor.
When the Danish prime minister called this week to inform Bush that the country’s 46O troops would be leaving Iraq, the president had no objection to the decision to cut and run. According to Denmark’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Bush expressed “both understanding and satisfaction that the situation in Iraq makes it possible for Denmark and Britain to reduce their numbers of troops.”
If this war gets much more “satisfying,” the U.S. will be fighting it alone.
But don’t expect to hear Bush or Cheney complaining about the inability of the Brits, the Danes, the Japanese or the Tongans to understand the importance of Iraq to the “war on terror.” That silly spin is reserved for domestic consumption. It’s a political hammer used to attack Democrats who fail to rubberstamp the administration’s misguided strategies — not a serious concern on the part of the administration.