Chris Wallace had a friendly sit-down on FOX News (aka, Republican state TV) with Dick Cheney on Sunday 01/14/07:
Q What do you say to members of Congress who may try to block your efforts, your policy in Iraq? Would they be, in effect, undercutting the troops?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think they would be, but I think more than that, Congress clearly has every right to express their opinion and to agree or disagree with administration policy. And they will. They haven't had any qualms at all about that. But there's a new element here, I think, Chris, and that is to say the Democrats have now taken control of the House and the Senate. It's not enough for them to be critics any more. We have these meetings with members of Congress and they agree we can't fail. The consequences of failure would be too great. But then they end up critical of what we're trying to do, advocating withdrawal or so-called redeployment of force, but they have absolutely nothing to offer in its place. I have yet to hear a coherent policy out of the Democratic side with respect to an alternative to what the President has proposed in terms of going forward. They basically, if we were to follow their guidance, the comments, for example, that a lot of them made during the last campaign about withdrawing U.S. forces, we simply go back and re-validate the strategy that Osama bin Laden has been following from day one, that if you kill enough Americans, you can force them to quit, that we don't have the stomach for the fight. That's not an answer. If, in fact, this is as critical as we all believe it is, then if the Democrats don't like what we're proposing, it seems to me they have an obligation to put forward their proposal, and so far we haven't seen it. (my emphasis)
They're still playing this dumb but sleazy game of claiming that the Democrats are supporting what Bin Laden wants. And that will be the case as long as Cheney and Bush control the White House.
Al Qaida has been happy to use the ongoing Iraq War to make propaganda against the United States. And when we eventually leave, they will claim that Americans are a bunch of wimps. Here is what Bin Laden actually claimed in his message of 10/19/03, from the James Howarth translation in Bruce Lawrence, ed., Messages to the World: The Statement of Osama bin Laden (2005):
I am rejoicing in the fact that America has become embroiled in the quagmires of the Tigris and Euphrates. Bush thought that Iraq and its oil would be easy prey, and now here he is, stuck in dire straits, by the grace of God Almighty. Here is America today, screaming at the top of its voice as it falls apart in front of the whole world. Praise be to God, who has resisted America's deceitful strategies to the point where it is begging for help from mercenaries and scum from east to west.
It is little wonder that you have managed to do what you have done to America, bringing this shame down upon it, for you are descendants of the great knights who brought Islam as far east as China.
You should know that this war is a new Crusader campaign against the Islamic world, and it is a war of destiny for the entire umma. God only knows what serious ramifications it might have for Islam and its people. (my emphasis)
Of course, the fact that Bin Laden said this doesn't make it so. The point is that the jihadists will make anti-American propaganda out of the war continuing as well as out of the war ending. Maybe Cheney and Bush should have thought about that a bit more carefully before they invaded Iraq, among many other things they failed to consider properly.
But foreign policy is about a lot more than the testosterone posturing of the Dick Cheneys and Osama bin Ladens of the world. Yes, the Iraq War has done the US tremendous damage, and the consequences are likely to be with us visibly for decades. And nothing has done more than Cheney's beloved Iraq War to make people question the actual military strength of the United States.
But the fact is that the task facing the US in Iraq is managing the consequences of the spectacular failure of Cheney and Bush in the war they wanted so badly. Of course they'd prefer to change the subject to the Democratic alternatives, any and all of which they can be expected to ridicule as not leading to the Cheney image of "success".
And they will be right. "Success" in the Cheney sense is not going to come from any of the Democratic alternatives and certainly not from the McCain escalation plan that Cheney and Bush are implementing.
In terms of how other nations perceive the deterrent value of US military threats, the best way to start to repair that would be to stop wasting more of our military resources on a Lost Cause in Iraq and to refocus American defense efforts to include a more appropriate mix of forces, a better counterinsurgency capability and a renewal of the diplomatic efforts that have been largely replaced by military threats during the current administration.
Iraq has damaged American credibility severely in more ways than one. Continued to send more soldiers into the Iraqi civil war is not going to boost that credibility. Knowing enough to cut your losses and leave is also a major aspect of international credibility.
Not surprisingly, Cheney used the opportunity which Wallace helpfully provided to asset his Unilateral Executive theory of unlimited Presidential power, though he softpedalled it a bit.
I hope that Congressional hearings on the war will help get the discussion of the war away from this frat-boy nonsense, "You wanna do what Bin Laden wants!!"
The Democrats should focus on doing what American needs, which certainly includes getting out of this disaster known as the Iraq War.