Vindication, a trifle late

Remember Wes Clark’s “Ross Perot-crazy” idea that Iraq was only the first step in a Bush White House plan to take out a series of unfriendly regimes? Tony Blair says that was exactly the plan, at least in Cheney’s mind.

Remember when Andrew Sullivan called Wesley Clark “Ross Perot-crazy” for claiming that, for Cheney & Co., the invasion of Iraq was just the first step in a campaign that would eventually try to take out Iran and Syria, among others?

Well, Tony Blair now says that Cheney planned exactly that. In his new book, he writes that Cheney

thought the world had to be made anew and … it had to be done by force and with urgency. … He would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc.

The fact that Blair apparently still thinks that Cheney’s plan might have been sound makes it more likely that the underlying memory is accurate.

If I were Clark, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for apologies. And of course the damage is long since done. But there must be some satisfaction in having been right.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

8 thoughts on “Vindication, a trifle late”

  1. Well I hope so. Mr. W. Clark's would be the only satisfaction many of us are likely to see realized. Cold comfort to the millions of real lives impacted. What a travesty that dastardly people such as those who ginned up the attack on Iraq can get away with it unscathed.

  2. Beth, while I agree with your sentiment, you bring to mind a larger issue of historical justice. Compared with the havok they were responsible for, I'm not sure that there's much that could be done to them that would begin to compare – "eye for eye"-wise, and all that. I think the greater triumph would be the fact that we as a society would be at a place where we would be able to recognize what was done and hold our leaders accountable.

    But then, if we were that society maybe we never would have gone along with them in the first place. The war we got was maybe the war we deserved. And so trying to find some sense of justice – unable as we are to find it among our fellow citizenry – is going to have to occur in the ways in which we move forward in our messy, ideologically scattered and tangled politics. Sullivan is actually an interesting example of the front lines of that schism right now, in that he had supported the war, was essentially a neoconservative (if I've been able to figure out that term), but then lost faith in the Bush project and recalculated his political allegiances.

    At least in so far as the modern right is concerned, much of where they are currently at may be a reaction to the drubbing they took among their more critically inclined and thus are in full-bore, culture war reaction mode. Losing the more chaste voices of reason could have facilitated their current descent in to crazy. In this way, maybe the Iraq war was somewhat of a truth-stone, in that it required the right to go about some internal sorting.

    In this way the justice may have rippled off in strange ways, hopefully ultimately serving to strengthen us, and moving us towards further wisdom in the end. But I'm a hopeless optimist so what do I know!

  3. I certainly agree with Mr. Blair: I think he should stay in Afganistan as long as necessary. I'll help him pack.

    As to the revelation that Dick Cheney wanted to bomb the whole world into oblivion. Well surprise, surprise, surprise! The best thing he had going for him was that his ideas were so crazy that the few of us who believed it couldn't covince the rest. How could anybody be so depraved? But it's just like those "crazy" theories that the bushies enlisted old family friend Osama binLadin to bring about their dream scenerio of a "Pearl Harbor" event to drive America to war. Even though all the pieces fit so perfectly and the motive was declared in advance who could believe they could be so depraved?

  4. Do you miss George W Bush yet? Do you long for the days of the Bush administration? Remember that the current crop of Republicans do. They've learned nothing. They aren't sorry for anything. I've said for a long time this whole teabagger thing is a sham, because they are all Republicans trying to purge the RINOs from the party. They are no different from the John Birch Society back in the day trying to kick the Rockefeller Republicans out of the party to make way for the Goldwater Republicans. After all, they are run by Richard Armitage and FreedomWorks. I is just a big PR stunt.

    The lesson is that they claim they are different, but their policies are all the same national nightmare stuff that the Bush administration ran. I don't care how high unemployment is (not that the president controls such things and aren't we much better off as a country because of it?) I don't want a return to the nightmare of the Bush era.

  5. It always amazed me how much hubris Sullivan had — that he could be so sure that someone like Clark, who had served in the U.S. military with great distinction and who actually knew Cheney for probably more than two decades, somehow didn't know what he was talking about, while Sullivan, who hadn't either of these distinctions could somehow know more motivated solely by wishful thinking and emotion. As much as I appreciate that Sullivan changed his tune early (unlike many) and on the whole, the opinions of people like himself don't much matter (useful idiots, that's all, to people like Cheney). Still, it's an incredibly instructive example of what can happen even to smart people who want something to be true or not true.

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