QUESTION: But Mr. Vice President, getting from there to here, 4,500 Americans have died, at least 100,000 Iraqis have died. Has it been worth that?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think so.
Yes, that's right, and it's that simple, the deaths in Iraq, both Iraqi and American, have been worth it. Because, in Cheney's view, it was all about getting rid of Saddam. And, fine, Saddam is gone, but has the rest of it, the failed occupation, the sectarian violence and civil war, been worth it? Well, again, yes. To Cheney, there's no remorse, no looking back, no attempt to understand the present, in any honest way: "I think we did exactly the right thing. I think the country is better off for it today. I think it's been part of the effort, alongside Afghanistan, to liberate 50 million people and establish a vibrant democracy in the heart of the Middle East. I think those are major, major accomplishments."
I'm all for liberation, too, but are the people of Iraq truly free? Is there really a vibrant democracy there? And in Afghanistan, what of the ongoing war and instability there? It's not enough just to believe in your own high-falutin' rhetoric of freedom and democracy. It's not enough just to say that there have been such accomplishments, such historic progress. There's the not-so-little matter of the facts on the ground to consider, and the facts don't really back him up, do they? And what Cheney does not consider is not just those facts but that his own policies -- or, rather, Bush's -- have hindered progress in both Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as elsewhere, including in Iran, in North Korea, and with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). Even granting him that going to war in Iraq was the right thing to do -- which, in retrospect, I'm not about to do -- what about what came after
the invasion? So too in Afghanistan. What about what came after
the overthrow of the Taliban, specifically the immediate turn to Iraq and the failure to go after al Qaeda with full determination? And then, what about the gross mismanagement of the war in Iraq, and how Iraq turned into a cesspool of terrorism and sectarianism?
But, no, those aren't questions Cheney will answer with any honesty, so enraptured is he in his own delusions of success. He's still one of the craziest of them all. At least his time is almost up.