In the first part of the vice-presidential debate, Edwards and Kerry were asked about the hows and whys of Shrub's War. Cheney, citing administration sources, claimed that the war was necessary to eliminate the danger posed by Iraq's current and potential links with terrorism. Cheney views the war as part of the grand project of establishing global security. Edwards, citing key government and administration sources, denies there are firm links between terrorism and Saddam.
Regarding the general conduct of the war, Cheney praises current administration policies to include the training of Iraqi troops and preparations for elections, whereas Edwards, referring to the dire situation portrayed in much of the media and even described by many Republican leaders, claims that the Bush Administration has dropped the ball in its failure to provide adequate troops and training, and more importantly, in its failure to form an effective international coalition.
Swerve Left's Analysis: Cheney, while tepidly repeating earlier assertions of a link between Iraq and terrorists, is switching to an end justifies the means sort of argument for the war. We get the sense that the war, whatever its original justifications, is justifiable in terms of the dawning democracy taking root in Iraq. The problem with this argument is that it attempts take the focus off of the administration's incompetence or duplicity (take your pick) leading up to the war in order to place focus on a potential good that is still clearly unrealized. We all need to keep in mind that regardless of how we want to feel about the issue, Iraqi democracy is clearly unrealized at this point. Allawi is a dictator. The U.S. calls the shots. And probably will for decades. It follows that the future prospects for true democracy in Iraq are extremely grim. Of course, Cheney did not spend too much time trying to sell us on Iraq's flowering democracy. Instead, we got vague promises of "global security." Of course, the watered-down concept of global security doesn't fare much better than abstractions such as "democracy" if we search for concrete benchmarks to evaluate the administration success. I know of no American deaths due to Iraqi terrorist attacks prior to the war. It's hard to see how the administration could improve on this record.
Edwards, I think, did a good job of firmly stating what everyone in the world except Dick Cheney realizes at this point--the connection between Iraq and terrorism was tenuous at best. The promises to get more troops into Iraq or provide more training are more of the same rhetoric we hear so often from Kerry's camp, as when Kerry promised to secure nuclear weapons and so on. It sounds like just so many election year promises to do everything Bush is doing but better.
Cheney's ability to utter complete falsehoods without even a subtle change of expression is truly remarkable. Our fellow bloggers have been busy tallying the long record of deception:
- Cut to the Chase: Cheney's flipflopping and grandiose lies regarding the alleged Iraqi terrorist connection.
- Versus the necessity for war to get rid of weapons, check out the Independent's October 7th article, Am I Patriotic, Rook's Rant, and DFC. For a conservative counter-view, see Boortz. Perhaps the best source on this is the Washington Post article providing a side-by-side comparison of administration claims and the established facts.
- Democracy for California on Cheney's statement that he'd never met Edwards (pictures are worth a thousand words).
- From the Inside Looking Out, The Fulcrum, and DFC on the idea that "we've made significant progress in Iraq."
- Countering Cheney's claim that "the world is safer today," we can site the Alternet article Al Qaeda Rising.
- Kevin Drum (Washington Monthly) has compiled a table of Cheney lies.
- General reactions to Cheney's lies on Suburban Guerrilla.