Dick Cheney’s speech today to the American Enterprise Institute was a stellar example of political argument that leaves the realm of reason descending into the black hole of delusion and paranoia:
Mr. Cheney said an early withdrawal from Iraq would be a “terrible blow” to the security of the United States, and painted a bleak picture of terrorists’ ambitions in Iraq.
“The terrorists believe that by controlling an entire country,” he said, “they will be able to target and overthrow other governments in the region, and to establish a radical Islamic empire that encompasses a region from Spain, across North Africa, through the Middle East and South Asia, all the way to Indonesia. They have made clear, as well, their ultimate ambitions: to arm themselves with weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate all Western countries and to cause mass death in the United States.”
Can you imagine what’s going on in that brain of his? It’s a veritable miasma of conspiracies, mass murder and religious terror. He really should be seeing a psychiatrist and taking psychotropic drugs. And if they didn’t work then maybe someone should just put him to sleep. Hey, just kidding–we don’t go in for that sort of thing even against our political enemies.
You remember some of the more outrageous accusations leveled by Condi, Dick and friends before we went to war? It appears that Tricky Dick (should I call him ‘II’ since Nixon was the first?) hasn’t learned a lesson from his previous excesses. But this time, the American people “won’t be fooled again” (don’t you just love using the Who to denigrate Dick Cheney?). The first time his over-the-top rhetoric sounded believable to many Americans. Now, he comes off as a truly paranoiac parody of himself. Notice how he continues to conflate the Iraq insurgency with Al Qaeda? Actually, because of Al-Zarkawi’s role in Iraq (a fuse we lit through our occupation) there now IS a link between the two groups that had never existed before.
As for the substance of his statement, WE are the ones who created the Iraq insurgency. Had we done things differently (even if we HAD toppled Saddam), there might not have been one. But I predict that after we leave most Iraqis will tend to their own affairs. That might mean killing each other. But very few will graduate to world terrorism. But of course that leaves Al Qaeda, which will feel emboldened by such a victory. But neither Al Qaeda nor any other similar entity will ever come close to being able to mastermind all the perfidy Cheney outlines above.
It’s remarkable that Dick Cheney and Osama bin Laden (and their respective followers) are the only people in the world who take Al Qaeda’s Muslim Caliphate plan seriously. I’ve been thinking that if you shaved Osama’s and Al-Zwahari’s beards off they’d probably look remarkably like George Bush and Dick Cheney. Whata ya think?
After thinking more about this post and Cheney’s warped mindset, I was reminded of Communism, which played the same role in the thinking of Cold Warriors from just after WWII, when Stalin took over Eastern Europe until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. You remember those speeches about the dangers of Communism and its attempt at worldwide domination? Others before me have noted that the Bush Administration’s terrorism mantra has taken the place of Communism as the motherlode of the neoconservatives, who are the natural offspring of the Cold Warriors. These guys need a scary enemy (even if it’s one practically made up out of whole cloth) to make the U.S. public malleable to their machinations. Reminds me of those scary handpuppets which as children we projected on the bedroom wall in menacing poses. When you turned the lights back on, they didn’t look scary at all.
I’m not arguing that Al Qaeda is not a serious enemy of the U.S. and all freedom-loving people. I am arguing that the threat from Al Qaeda needs to be placed into the context of all the other threats we face. It is not a greater threat than say, Hurricane Katrina essentially incapacitating an entire American city for months. Al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalism is a threat, not THE threat.