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Heart of Darkness

Former Marine officer and U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter, an early opponent of the Iraq War, warned before the invasion that Saddam’s regime no longer possessed weapons of mass destruction. More recently he has turned his attention to holding the Bush administration accountable for its illegal war, as well as other abuses of power such as torture, secret prisons and warrantless surveillance. In January 2007, he argued in The Nation that Congress should “Stop the Iran War before It Starts” by requiring the president to seek a declaration of war before taking any action against Iran. (It shouldn’t be necessary to insist on what is already in the Constitution, but that’s the way it is.) Now he has followed up with a piece in TruthDig arguing that Dick Cheney is the evil at the heart of the Bush administration, and that the only way to save the nation is to remove Cheney from office.

    The vice president is the single greatest threat to American and international security in the world today. Not Osama Bin Laden. Not the ghost of Saddam Hussein. Not Ahmadinejad or Kim Jung Il. Not al-Qaida, the Taliban, or Jose Padilla himself. Not even George W. Bush can lay claim to this title. It is Dick Cheney’s alone. […] Cheney has single-handedly steered America away from being a nation among nations (albeit superior), operating (roughly) in accordance with the rule of law, and toward its present manifestation as the new Rome, a decadent imperial power bent on global domination whatever the cost.
    The absolute worst of the rot that has infected America because of the policies and actions of the Bush administration has originated from the office of the vice president. The nonsensical response to the terror attacks of 9/11, seeking a “global war” versus defending the rule of law at home and abroad, taking the lead in spreading the lies that got us involved in Iraq, legitimizing torture as a tool of American jurisprudence, advocating for warrantless wiretappings of U.S.-based communications…and pushing for an expansion of America’s global conflict into Iran—all can be traced back to the person of Cheney as the point of origin.
    America today is very much engaged in a life-or-death struggle against the forces of evil. The enemy resides not abroad, however, but at home, vested in the highest offices of the land. Neither Osama Bin Laden nor Saddam Hussein threatened the life blood of the United States—the Constitution—to the extent that Cheney has.

Ritter ends with a call for Cheney’s impeachment, which is also a call to restore the balance of power enshrined in the Constitution. He attempts to rally the Democratic Party to lead the charge. Most important is his claim that if our nation doesn’t have the courage for the kind of self-examination that Cheney’s impeachment would require, then our democracy will be in trouble regardless of who takes power in 2008.

    The Democrats need to stand for something. Cheney has provided the sort of political ammunition that would enable them to fight, and win, a constitutional battle over the heart of America, the kind of defining struggle which I believe the vast majority of Americans would rally around. Unless the Democrats start separating themselves from the policies of the Bush administration…all they will achieve in the coming years is a change in the titular political orientation of America, without the kind of deep-seated break from the failures and crimes of the past six-plus years that have taken our nation, and the world, right up to the edge of chaos.

Comments

Comment from leblase
Time: August 25, 2007, 08:03

I tend to think it is quite naive to believe there is much difference between a Democrat and a Republican Senator, even though they do push for some layers of separate policies.
Moreover, the majority of them do not have the guts or the wits to send Cheney down where he belongs: a high-security jail.
So, apart from the ascending of a Democratic Administration after next Presidential elections, I do not expect much from the actual Senate. Maybe a little more from the House, but not much.
That leaves time enough for the lunatic Cheney to create a fictive event, involving fictive bad guys that would plunge America (and possibly a good part of the world) in more darkness.
But Ritter is so right in pointing at the VP: the psychotic Vice President has much more strength and willpower than Bush. His private interests (Halliburton, Kellog, etc) and his mental fantasies fed by the souvenir of his past failures and cowardice would be a perfect subject for a historian of psychiatry.
A new war could come from him, for sure, since he already has lost the two first he laid on the people of Afghanistan and Irak. But there should be a time when an American citizen, most probably a Republican close to the White house, will make a move to stop this folly.
One should ask a simple question, that is surely a the top of dick Cheney’s everyday preoccupation: what to do to avoid a Grand Jury once he is out of office?

Comment from eatbees
Time: August 25, 2007, 23:54

@leblase — Our Congressional leaders are by nature centrists, with very little variation. The question is really where the center is located on any given issue, at any given time. In the 1970s, following Watergate, we saw a high point of anti-militarism and transparency on national security issues, but we have been sliding backward ever sense. I give Bill Clinton some credit for moving the center in a more compassionate direction, but of course after 9/11 that work was undone.

About Cheney, he’s doing his best to create the fictive event you describe, though it won’t remain fictive if he gets his way! The darkness that haunts Cheney is real. I never believed in “real evil” before, but he’s convinced me. And of course, the nature of evil is to see everything but itself as evil. I should have known that.

Because it’s evil we are talking about (or to use a scientific term, psychopathology) it infects what is around it. Complacency in the face of evil makes us collaborators. We can’t use the good German defense (“But I didn’t know!”) forever. At some point this problem must be cut out at the root. On one level, it’s a pragmatic question about the correct functioning of government, but it’s also deeper than that. It’s a question of saving our own souls.

I often wonder about the appropriate punishment for a man like Cheney. I can imagine putting him in the same cell we reserve for Bin Laden, or seeing him blown up by insurgents as he almost was in Afghanistan. But I actually prefer to let justice take his course. Milosovic ended as a sad, irrelevant man who had no hope of ever leaving his cell in the Hague. No one came to see him any more. No one cared. His only hope was to fake an illness so the judge might let him go to Russia for “treatment.” Only the pills he took to create his fake symptoms actually killed him. Some similar fate for Cheney would be justice done.

Comment from Rip Van Winkle
Time: August 26, 2007, 16:06

This is a segment of a 1994 interview with Dick Cheney. The former Sec. of Defense convincingly argues that invading Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein would have been a bad idea.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think the U.S., or U.N. forces, should have moved into Baghdad?

CHENEY: No.

INTERVIEWER: Why not?

CHENEY: Because if we’d gone to Baghdad, we would have been all alone. There wouldn’t have been anybody else with us. It would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq.

Once you got into Iraq and took it over, and took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place? That’s a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government in Iraq, you can easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. Part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west. Part of eastern Iraq, the Iranians would like to claim — fought over for eight years. In the north, you’ve got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you’ve threatened the territorial integrity of Turkey. It’s a quagmire, if you go that far in trying to take over Iraq.

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