Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What is Dick Cheney fighting for?

Dick Cheney decided to put himself back in the spotlight in an interview for ( where he has decided to proclaim that President Obama's policies make a nuclear or biological attack by Al Qaeda more likely on America. While I think looking at President Obama's policies should be looked at by Americans to decide their merits, Dick Cheney hardly has the insight to do so successfully.

Let's not forget that Dick Cheney was the one who went on television to tell the American people that we should fear Iraqi nuclear weapons because Saddam would give them to terrorists to detonate on American soil. At this point, it is pretty clear that his assessment of nuclear weapons and their threat to America is more about political manipulation and scare tactics than actual knowledge or any kind of valid assessment of the situation. Remember, Dick Cheney also told us we would be greeted as liberators in Iraq with parades in the streets. His situational assessment credibility is pretty much nil.

However, we should look at the policies he is talking about.

President Obama is closing Gitmo, which holds people that President Bush thought to be terrorists. President Bush thought that these people were so dangerous that many were released based on government to government political deals where they were freed upon being returned to their own country. Dick Cheney indicated in the politico story that about 61 of those released of the 600 or so released, have returned to terrorism (note, some research from Seton Hall refutes this figure as being wrong and wayyy too high). Given the passionate nature of terrorists, that could very well mean that about 88% of the people held there were not even terrorists. But no one has seen any evidence of it, so how can we ever know for sure?

One has to wonder why the Bush Administration, after holding them for so many years, was unable to produce any evidence against these people. One would think that if they were so clearly terrorists, they would have been able to easily convict these people in military tribunals that they had set up outside the judicial system.

What too many like Dick Cheney too often forget is that every time we do not enact our values, we prove to the world that our values are little more than hollow words that are only good for manipulating people in the world. We give terrorists a big marketing tool for their recruitment strategies that have helped terrorists increase their numbers globally. This notion of being "dirty" and playing out hyper aggression has increased terrorist attacks globally and on Americans overseas to levels that are far beyond what we saw in the pre-9/11 world.

What we saw on 9/11 was an attempt to provoke America similar to the attack of 1993 on the World Trade Center, except the Bush Administration was so afraid of being soft that they fell right into the trap. Bin Laden told the world that his goal was to get America to invade and go broke, but people didn't believe him. Turns out, he may have been telling the truth.

Every time we move to be more like the terrorists, we give up who we are and what makes us special. It is a bit like a minister becoming a prostitute to fight the sin of prostitution. We lose that thing that makes us special in the world, that thing that makes us the beacon of freedom to the world. We need smarter ways of fighting, not dirtier ways. Does it make it harder for us? Sure. But no one said liberty and justice came easy.

It is the same reason why we have such precision guided bombs, because it is better to target the areas we want to hit and minimize civilian casualties than to carpet bomb the whole area and kill everyone. It would have been easier to make millions of dumb bombs and carpet bomb everywhere, but we have the skill to preserve the lives of the innocent so we try.

Unfortunately, some who push this agenda put forth poor arguments to distort and twist the truth. One commentator on CNN defending Cheney spoke of the protests against wiretaps in Afghanistan, yet, I know of no protests of wiretapping in Afghanistan. Instead, the protests were against wiretapping the phones of Americans without warrants or probable cause in America.

A goal of Americans should be to strive to be better, not to attempt to justify that we need to start acting more like Third World countries and then proclaim: "we aren't quite as bad as them" while being so far below our own standards that we have forgotten what our own standards were. If you lose what you are fighting for, then what's the point of the fight?