Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bush's mentor, the Dementor

There's been no shortage of denunciations of Dick Cheney for  his series of  attacks on Obama , and he deserves all of them. But today, Gail Collins dispatches "the demented vice president" (Dowd, 2004) with a throwaway line worth a dozen polemics:
No matter how difficult the issue, Obama has been sensible, deliberative. Just look at Dick Cheney swooping around like a dementor from Harry Potter, and you have to appreciate how much things have improved. Times' report on the army's own official history of the failure of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan since early 2002 sheds an interesting light on Cheney's October charge that Obama was "dithering" over Afghanistan:

The lack of resources was also apparent in the training of Afghan security forces, the history shows.

'Early in the war, the training program was hampered by poor equipment, low pay, high attrition and not enough trainers. Living conditions for the Afghan army were so poor that Maj. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry likened them to Valley Forge when he took command of the training operation in October 2002...

The historians say resistance to providing more robust resources to Afghanistan had three sources in the White House and the Pentagon.

First, President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had criticized using the military for peacekeeping and reconstruction in the Balkans during the 1990s. As a result, “nation building” carried a derogatory connotation for many senior military officials, even though American forces were being asked to fill gaping voids in the Afghan government after the Taliban’s fall.

Second, military planners were concerned about Afghanistan’s long history of resisting foreign invaders and wanted to avoid the appearance of being occupiers. But the historians argue that this concern was based partly on an “incomplete” understanding of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan.

Third, the invasion of Iraq was siphoning away resources. After the invasion started in March 2003, the history says, the United States clearly “had a very limited ability to increase its forces” in Afghanistan.
Heck of a job, Bushies. Those were the days when we had real leadership. Here's Cheney on Bush, 3/16/03:

He has a great capability that I think is absolutely essential in an effective leader, and that’s the ability to cut to the heart of the issue....

Oftentimes, you can get so tangled up in the nuance and the fine points of diplomacy of dealing with these kind of issues, engage in a large debate but the people who make things happen, the leaders who set the world, if you will, on a new course, deal effectively with these kinds of threats that we’ve never been faced with before, will be somebody exactly like President Bush. I think he’s exactly what the circumstances require.
Okay, so as I said, Collins' quick dispatch is more salutary than all this scab-picking. I'll shut up now. If only Cheney would.

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