Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz are in the news again following an Op-Ed article titled “The Collapsing Obama Doctrine” that was published on Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal in which they chided the Obama Administration over the way America is failing to respond to escalating violence in Iraq and the resurgence of al-Qaeda that could destabilize the entire region and engulf more countries in the wider conflict, placing Sunni Muslims against Shiite Muslims.
While serving as vice president under the Bush Administration, Dick Cheney played an influential role advising President Bush and was one of the key players who helped shape the unilateral foreign policy that led to America invading Iraq and deposing Sadaam Hussein following the 9/11 attacks on the false premise that Sadaam possessed weapons of mass destruction and senior al-Qaeda members had met with senior Iraqi intelligence officials five months prior to the terrorist attacks in New York.
It was later revealed that Saddam Hussein posed no national security threat to the United States, was deeply distrustful of al-Qaeda, and viewed Islamic extremists as a menace in Iraq.
Although many Democrats in Congress also voted in favor of authorizing the United States to invade Iraq based on faulty intelligence data collected about Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction and posing a national security threat, the impulsive decision to unilaterally invade Iraq with little outside support from the international community proved to be a costly one for the United States and firmly rests on the shoulders of the Bush administration.
America’s military invasion of Iraq shaped the future of Iraq whose modern day borders were primarily demarcated in 1920 by the League of Nations at the end of the Ottoman Empire and later placed under the authority of the United Kingdom.
According to research that was completed in 2013 by several scholars from Brown University in a study titled “Costs of War” it was determined that the cost of the Iraq war for the United States totals $2.2 trillion but could jump as high as $3.9 trillion.
“Because the Iraq war appropriations were funded by borrowing, cumulative interest through 2053 could amount to more than $3.9 trillion” the scholars concluded.
Since the United States borrowed money to invade Iraq, future generations of Americans will be stuck paying off $3.9 trillion in war debt for the misunderstood policies of the Bush administration which Dick Cheney clearly helped to develop and shape.
According to the “Costs of War” study, $60 billion infrastructure dollars from the U.S. intended for the reconstruction of Iraq was misused and involved with fraud.
“The $60 billion spent on reconstruction for Iraq has not gone to rebuilding infrastructure such as roads, health care, and water treatment systems, but primarily to the military and police. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has found massive fraud, waste, and abuse of reconstruction funds” the scholars wrote.
Another sobering fact from the scholar’s findings concerns the loss of life.
The total number of brave U.S. service members killed in Iraq was 4,488 and at least 3,400 U.S. contractors.
When the study was completed in 2013, more than 190,000 people were killed since the war in Iraq began in March 2003.
Over 70 percent of those who died of direct war violence in Iraq were civilians, estimated to be 134,000.
Terrorism spawned following the Iraq invasion.
“Terrorism in Iraq increased dramatically as a result of the invasion and tactics and fighters were exported to Syria and other neighboring countries.”
Despite Dick Cheney’s complicity in the costly Iraq invasion that sent waves of al-Qaeda militants to Syria and other countries, Cheney shifts the blame to President Obama who pledged to have the U.S. military withdrawn from Iraq during his presidential campaign.
Cheney has exhausted his credibility on the thorny topic of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Nevertheless, using condescending language, he tells President Obama how his administration should govern and make foreign policy decisions.
Cheney wrote: “Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change. Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing. He seems blithely unaware, or indifferent to the fact, that a resurgent al Qaeda presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America.”
Cheney believes that President Obama shouldn’t be golfing or talking about climate change because climate change is not important to him and President Obama should not be “indifferent” towards a resurgent al-Qaeda that presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America.
There’s no doubt that al-Qaeda has malicious intentions to disrupt democratic principles and impose radicalized Islamic views across the globe, including the United States, and should be resisted at every level.
But the internal conflicts in Iraq are sectarian and still largely split along the historical Sunni-Shiite divide.
Borrowing trillions again to play the role of global cop in a region that is perpetually locked in a quagmire is futile.
Before the United States invaded Iraq, there was a fierce rivalry between Iraq and Iran.
The balance of power was somewhat evenly divided between the two powers.
But when the United States easily defeated the Iraqi military, there was a power vacuum and Iran became strengthened across the region.
U.S. military intervention in Iraq indirectly strengthened Iran’s hand across the Middle East because Saddam’s military capabilities were seriously diminished which in turn help to spread Iran’s influence across the region since their arch enemy to the west had been conquered.
Yet Dick Cheney seems to have forgotten this important historical fact.
Cheney wrote,”In the face of this threat, Mr. Obama is busy ushering America’s adversaries into positions of power in the Middle East. First it was the Russians in Syria. Now, in a move that defies credulity, he toys with the idea of ushering Iran into Iraq. Only a fool would believe American policy in Iraq should be ceded to Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.”
President Obama didn’t usher Iran into Iraq.
The hand of Iran was already strengthened through the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 which Dick Cheney played a clear role in shaping through the Bush administration.
President Obama has some important tough decisions to face in the near future about how the United States should handle The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that seeks to dominate the region through a radicalized agenda.
He has shown a greater willingness to work together with its U.S. partners and even Iran to help combat the rising influence of radical Islamic groups in the region.
President Obama made it clear that he has considered air attacks while signaling that he has no plans to send in ground troops.
Iraq possesses several important oil fields that are of strategic importance to the international community and recent images of its major oil refinery on fire set ablaze following a militant attack does not help to calm nerves.
But the United States has already spent trillions in Iraq to help rebuild the divided country at a time when America’s own infrastructure is sorely in need of funding and the national debt is over $17 trillion.
According to a 2013 report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the United States received a D + report card with its own infrastructure and needs an estimated $3.6 trillion by 2020.
– Johnathan Schweitzer