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Cheney Lays the Foundation for War
This weekend the roll-out for the Next War continues. The most remarkable item is a speech delivered by the man who, by all accounts, has aggressively pushed for war against Iran for at least two years: Vice President Dick Cheney. Here are a few take-outs from his speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, up now at the White House web site:
Operating largely in the shadows, Iran attempts to hide its hands through the use of militants who target and kill coalition and Iraqi security forces. Iran’s real agenda appears to include promoting violence against the coalition. Fearful of a strong, independent, Arab Shia community emerging in Iraq, one that seeks religious guidance not in Qom, Iran, but from traditional sources of Shia authority in Najaf and Karbala, the Iranian regime also aims to keep Iraq in a state of weakness that prevents Baghdad from presenting a threat to Tehran.
Perhaps the greatest strategic threat that Iraq’s Shiites face today in — is — in consolidating their rightful role in Iraq’s new democracy is the subversive activities of the Iranian regime. The Quds Force, a branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is the defender of the theocracy. The regime has used the Quds Force to provide weapons, money, and training to terrorists and Islamic militant groups abroad, including Hamas; Palestinian Islamic Jihad; militants in the Balkans; the Taliban and other anti-Afghanistan militants; and Hezbollah terrorists trying to destabilize Lebanon’s democratic government.
The Iranian regime’s efforts to destabilize the Middle East and to gain hegemonic power is a matter of record. And now, of course, we have the inescapable reality of Iran’s nuclear program; a program they claim is strictly for energy purposes, but which they have worked hard to conceal; a program carried out in complete defiance of the international community and resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. Iran is pursuing technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons. The world knows this. The Security Council has twice imposed sanctions on Iran and called on the regime to cease enriching uranium. Yet the regime continues to do so, and continues to practice delay and deception in an obvious attempt to buy time.
Given the nature of Iran’s rulers, the declarations of the Iranian President, and the trouble the regime is causing throughout the region — including direct involvement in the killing of Americans — our country and the entire international community cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its most aggressive ambitions. (Applause.)
The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences. The United States joins other nations in sending a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)
Is Cheney threatening war against Iran? Yes, that’s exactly what he is doing. As Greg Djerejian reminds us, in the lead-up to the war against Iraq, Cheney gave a number of speeches making clear the intention to resort to arms against Saddam Hussein. And he used exactly the same language, including specifically the key phrase “serious consequences.” And note the focus on the Quds unit of the Revolutionary Guard. This is an exercise in target-practicing. As several sources have noted, Cheney has advocated targeting the Quds unit in the first bombing raids. He and his chief of staff David Addington have also advocated putting the Quds unit on the scheduled list of terrorist organizations, presumably for prior Congressional authorizations for the use of military force canbe drawn upon to justify the attack without the need to go back to Congress.
And while I pulled out the passages of the speech that constitute the most undisguised saber-rattling against Iran, the entire speech is worthy of careful study. It shows a man who has disintegrated into a moral sewer. He regales his audience with the need to use torture techniques, which he tells us elsewhere he learned of from “our friends” in the Middle East (a phrase which, I am told, describes the brutal techniques used by the Egyptians.) And he then proceeds to cite a positively insane op-ed by Bernard Lewis, the subject of one of my prior columns, in which the Soviet Union is held up as a wonderful model for the United States. So there you have Dick Cheney wonderfully summed up: traditional U.S. values are for sissies. Real international strongmen torture their own citizens like the Egyptians and bully the neighborhood like the Soviets. Yep, those policies served the Soviet Union very well, as I recall. The country collapsed and its entire southern underbelly was peeled away. It’s enough to make you wonder whether Cheney is on hallucinogens. But this man is at the driver’s wheel of the nation’s national security establishment; he is the most powerful vice president in the nation’s history. And he has a president who knows nothing about the issues, doesn’t care to learn, and follows Cheney’s advice blindly.
Kristol: Iran Threatens Victory in Iraq
The first fifteen minutes of Cheney’s Iran speech started with a discussion of Iraq, and made the case that the foe Americans were facing in Iraq was already Iran. This contention is nonsense, of course, a pure fable cooked up to push the war cause. The claim that Iranian explosives are being used by insurgents in Iraq is certainly true. But it has to be considered alongside the fact that the insurgents are fueled much more heavily by weapons and money out of Saudi Arabia, a fact that Cheney would rather not mention. However, on Fox News, William Kristol was out there making the same point.
We’re winning in Iraq. That is the absolute crucial precondition to having success in the broader fight against Islamic jihadism. … And I think we are going to have to be serious about dealing with both their intervention in Iraq — which is now the only real threat, I think, incidentally, to relative success in Iraq — and their nuclear program.
Got it? We would win in Iraq, but for the Iranians. Therefore the way to insure victory in Iraq is to wage war on Iran. Who could challenge that logic? And, of course, on Fox News, no one does.
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”