When I first began reading the former vice president's speech given at the American Enterprise Institute, posted prior to its delivery, I tended to generally agree with what seemed to be the thrust of his comments. However, farther in, I realized that six months of reflection after the Republicans were ousted from all political authority by an outraged country, he has learned nothing. At this point, I doubt he could. He is too set in his mentality, imprisoned within strictures of concept that permit no confrontation of his actions or beliefs.
To be brief, here are just a few of the most revealing of his comments; with the metaphors stripped away, they reveal an enormity of information, twisted patriotism, contempt for others, and much more:
“Another term out there that slipped into the discussion is the notion that American interrogation practices were a “recruitment tool” for the enemy. On this theory, by the tough questioning of killers, we have supposedly fallen short of our own values. This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the Left, 'We brought it on ourselves.'”
Fair enough on the surface, but what is Cheney really saying here? It resolves to two related assertions: The “recruitment tool” theory,
1)excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do.
2)It’s another version of that same old refrain from the Left, 'We brought it on ourselves.'”
The first point, stated as fact, is half fact and half fallacious. Neither O'bama or those like myself excuse the guilty. One night some years ago, while visiting relatives in Mabelvale, Arkansas, my brother and I were in front of my mother's home having a conversation when, suddenly, we heard a woman scream as though she were being murdered. Heinke road is sparsely populated and poorly lit at night. We couldn't see her or her presumed assailant, but we immediately began running as fast as we could in the direction of the scream, which continued as we ran. We had no weapons. Perhaps he did, but it wasn't a consideration. Our response was automatic, gutteral, and reflexive. Had he a gun, we could have been injured or killed, but certainly not before attempting to stop him-we would have killed him if necessary. It turned out that she was walking along the road in our direction and screaming at her husband who was driving along beside her after a violent altercation, trying to get her to get back into the car.
Upon reflection, NOT reflexion, we realized the woman was extremely intoxicated, seemed far more violent than her husband, and may indeed have been responsible for the altercation.
Thus it is with Cheney vs. O'bama. The Bush administration's post-911 policies were reflexive. Cheney would have us believe they were reflective, but it is obvious to most they were not. Virtually the entire congress-BOTH parties-initially approved of the “Patriot Act” and, although admittedly misled and lied to, the war against Iraq. All of these actions, including rounding up Arab nationals, the associated racial and human rights violations, and spying on Americans were clearly reflexive. They led to a host of actions: violations of the constitution, failure of Habeas Corpus, the slaughter of more Iraqi women and children than Hussein, accompanied by the complete decimation of the nation's infrastructure which we will never rebuild (that was just a promise to help us feel better about ourselves, but on the order of a treaty with the American Indians, not ONE of which we ever honored), destabilization of the Middle East with the probable outcome of an Iraq that is an Islamic Iranian Ally, the loss of some of the most valuable archaeological collections in the world, because our soldiers were instructed to run for the oil wells, not protect the museums from looting; etc., etc., etc.
O'bama, and everyone else since, now has the luxury of reflection. Because his hands are too dirty, and his self-interests in promoting the war became known to all and forced his removal, Cheney can take no other course than rationalization and self-justification
The second point, “. . . that same old refrain from the Left, 'We brought it on ourselves'” differs in that it has less to do with promoting policies to enrich himself and his friends, and more to do with a general contempt for others if they are perceived as different or less fortunate, particularly those of other religions and other countries. This places him on the ebbing side of a great, historical division occurring in America thought. To what do I refer?
In response to the question, “Are you prejudiced against Blacks?” I asked my mother some years ago, she responded, “Of course not!” Yet, only days after, upon learning that my girlfriend at the time was black and that we were about to live together, she responded, “If you stay with that woman, I will have nothing more to do with you!” Not prejudiced?
But less than a year later, when Ann insisted that I call and offer to visit mom and cook a meal for her that weekend (my friends and relatives love my cooking, especially my BBQ), she accepted. She had time to reflect. She received Ann openly, though I could tell she was watching and evaluating her very closely.
It has been a custom for many years, when possible, to have Christmas at my parent's home, though since 1994 when dad died, it was just mom's home. Christmas came not long after the day Ann and I had visited mom the first time. I was chosen to hand out the presents that year. I noticed as I was getting them from beneath the tree one by one and calling out the names, mom had left and gone to her room, later returning and inconspicuously placing another present in the limbs of the Spruce. There were presents for everyone, including from Ann to mom. Then, at the end, knowing it was there, I took the one from the back limbs of the tree. It was from mom to Ann. It was two small, ceramic angels, with which Ann was delighted. What Ann didn't know was that mom had told me a long time before, showing me those angels she had received as a gift, that they were her favorite possessions among so many. Mom wept at Ann's joy. Later, when I revealed all to Ann, we cried together.
Love is a wonderful thing, the greatest expression of the potential of mankind as a species. Hatred, prejudice, especially racial and religious, are deadly, and entirely unworthy of those who believe themselves to be good. Although we have the dreadful capacity to wink at the unthinkable, there comes a time when we cannot face ourselves if we really ARE good. Those whose love is not a lie know that an American life is no more valuable or sacred than that of any other country, regardless of how poor their family, what they have been raised from the innocence of childhood to believe, the economic system under which they live, or the color of their skin. The sweeping change in government and current deep reflection upon just who we are as Americans is a clear demonstration that most of us have not lost our ethical compass as human beings. There are and, barring much-needed and inevitable fundamental changes in our monetary system, political system, social system, and religious systems if we are to survive as a nation and as a species, probably always will be the petty, the hateful, the prideful, the condescending, the theocratic, the aristocratic, the holier-than-thou, those who hate the motes in the eyes of others but are incapable of seeing the beams in their own. But for a time at least, the good have prevailed, and many on the ebbing side of history are now switching to the flowing side. I cannot number how many who hoped O'bama would lose because he was black more than because he was a Democrat have told me how much they have come to respect him (some though with the tongue-in-cheek comment, "well, he's only half black").
We're still on Cheney's point 2 above, but let's add some flesh before continuing:
“It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some alleged failure to do so. Nor are terrorists or those who see them as victims exactly the best judges of America’s moral standards, one way or the other. . . . terrorists may lack much, but they have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion … our belief in equal rights for women … our support for Israel … our cultural and political influence in the world – these are the true sources of resentment, all mixed in with the lies and conspiracy theories of the radical clerics. These recruitment tools were in vigorous use throughout the 1990s, and they were sufficient to motivate the 19 recruits who boarded those planes on September 11th, 2001.
This comment is more loaded than a double-barreled shotgun. For starters, most of the 19 he cavalierly refers to were NOT from Iraq, but Saudi Arabia. But we needed their oil, and they had previously bailed Bush out of a serious business failure. How could we possibly attack them? Notice that his comment also adds some sub-points to point 2. He claims that terrorists hate us because of our beliefs in freedom of religion, women's rights, human rights (tongue-in-cheek on my part for adding that one in view of the Patriot Act), and freedom generally.
This is such a farce that a sixth grader could see it. Our two large neighbors immediately north and immediately south, believe in the same. Canada and Mexico are both much easier targets than we, yet we see no 9/11s occurring there. Ever wonder why? Because they aren't running around the world toppling regimes, exploiting resources, and using every diplomatic guise imaginable to benefit at the expense of others. Our CIA has not only toppled even democratically-elected governments, we replace them with dictators! Forty years of Somoza is a classical example. When the CIA toppled the democratically-elected president of Iran, whose primary policy was to rebuild and modernize the infrastructure of Iran, we replaced him with the Shah, who immediately signed over 40% of Iran's oil to the United States. To reward him for his plot, the CIA official responsible was made the new president of “GULF” Oil. It's called the Persian Gulf for a reason, the bombing of the USS Cole aside; what would Cheney do to someone who occupied the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of New Orleans and presumed hegemony over us? DUH!
Canada and Mexico don't do these kinds of things.
Many years ago, now, when I was entirely like Cheney in virtually every respect, I was troubled by a show on TV which covered the Canadian program in El Salvador during the war, where they showed them teaching El Salvadoran women that it was wrong to smash the testicles of Nicaraguan prisoners between two bricks. I don't need to point out that a man as honorable and “good” as I believed Reagan to be, for whom I certainly voted, could do the illegal Iran-Contra arms deal in order to fund a continuation of that war and the atrocities and thousands of innocent deaths it generated.
Is it any wonder that worldwide, I have encountered from Asia to the Southern Cone, from Egypt to Spain, and throughout this hemisphere people who love Americans and emulate our culture, yet hate our government? They don't hate it because it's a democracy. But during the last twenty years, more and more have reached the conclusion that you cannot completely sever the American from the American government, because we voted them into power and cannot assume complete innocence for their actions in our name. They ARE in our name. Yes, we love cheap oil, but if we knew what that actually required, most would turn away. Oil tycoons, no. “Good” Americans, yes.
The historical tide has turned, because in spite of enormous effort to keep the average American ignorant or somehow believing that “patriotism” and 3000 innocent American lives are important, while tens of thousands of innocent lives of “collateral damage” and the hopes and dreams of foreign families are of no consequence, have failed utterly; primarily because of the Internet. We owe Gore for that one, not just general awareness of global warming.
More and more, Americans, often in spite of themselves, are encountering an abundance of information long withheld or unable to conveniently obtain. In the face of such information, the “good” cannot continue believing they are if they do not alter their opinion and their vote. We just saw that happen. It's not a free pass for Democrats. Once the economic and international crises generated by the Bush Republicans are passed (if EVER-I won't even go there; that's a subject for another post), they will be evaluated based upon those policies unique to themselves which were not forced by the previous administration, but which they chose to pursue.
There is little hope for Cheney and others of his ilk, but there still is hope for America, especially the younger generation. Unfortunately, because of the Iraq debacle, and remember BOTH parties okayed it, which means you and I did by proxy, our children will have to deal with the big one, which is certain to come. Too many little boys have watched their fathers, their mothers, their siblings, their relatives, their friends KILLED. They know were they were innocent. America who killed them may have called the lad's mother, father, sister, brother, friend, etc. “collateral damage.” He called them “mommy, daddy, brother, sister, friend, aunt, uncle, etc. “
There was a reason ancient kings always killed all the sons of a deposed “enemy.” “THE GODFATHER” movies portray why. He will not always be a helpless little boy. One day, he will be a man. He now lives for that day, and he will have only one purpose in life for which he willing to trade his own: detonating a nuclear weapon in the country which destroyed those he loved. He IS innocent. We ARE guilty. The atrocity HAS been done. Only the most extraordinary changes in American policy and practice, including what that army of little fatherless or motherless boys will accept as true reparation, if such is even possible MIGHT change his mind.
The only thing that will (possibly) prevent or forestall a nuclear attack on America will be a pax americana, but I fear that, like the Romans, American civilization is too young to have learned the futility of war. The pax romana (Roman Peace) which lasted 600 years was a long time coming. If not, what I portray in my novel, JIHAD, will surely come to pass. You can read a good chunk of it for free by going to the following link:
You can read it for free in its entirety as it is being serialized chapter by chapter on Triond. Or you can purchase it.
Feel free to comment on this post.
This video shows how Cheney's mentality differs from O'bama's: