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2014-06-18

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July 9, 2014 - 2:00pm

Blogging Blue: Another "mission" to accomplish?

BY NURLAN ORUJLU

- 28 February, 1991 – U. S. President George H. W. Bush declares a ceasefire and announces successful liberation of Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s army.
- 14 September, 1992 – During his speech at Detroit Economic Club, U. S. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney explains why not invading Iraq was the right decision
- 15 April, 1994 – About a year after leaving his post, former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney still insists that invading Iraq in 1991 would’ve been wrong eventually leading to a ‘quagmire’ as he has been quoted saying while being interviewed
- 1995-2000 – Dick Cheney serves as the Chairman and CEO of Halliburton Company – one of the largest oil field services companies in the world that is mostly known for its controversial involvement in Iraq War.
- 20 January, 2001 – Mr. Cheney is sworn in for his first term as Vice President of the United States.
- 20 March, 2003 – The invasion of Iraq led by the U.S. forces begins as VP Cheney strongly supports the war.

Two and a half years ago we thought the Iraq War was over after American troops left the country following eight years of combat. Although suicide bombers kept on killing tens of people in the streets of Iraq every day after the U.S. withdrawal, there was only superficial coverage of these events in U.S. media until the jihadist militant group called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria started taking over territories in the biggest cities of Iraq.

The terrorists didn’t face a lot of challenge from the much more improved Iraqi military, on which the U.S. government spent approximately $20 billion for training and equipment purposes. As of now, ISIS is trying to find its ways through Baghdad to accomplish its mission to build a new state in Middle East. But wasn’t there another mission that was accomplished 11 years ago?

That was former president George W. Bush who announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq in a showy manner during his infamous ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech, which ironically didn’t have the phrase “mission accomplished” in it thanks to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Unfortunately, the banner was still up on the aircraft carrier – U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.

I have no intention to blame former president Bush for the Iraq War. Indeed, he can only be responsible for his inaction because it’s obvious that he wasn’t a decision maker in his administration, whereas Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were.

Let’s go back to Mr. Cheney. On June 17, 2014 he and his daughter wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal blaming current President Barack Obama for his sluggish foreign policy decisions in the wake of current crisis in Iraq. Former Vice President Cheney didn’t propose any specific actions to alleviate the situation in Iraq – kudos to Mr. Cheney for not advising the use of ground troops. However, it’s ridiculous that after making countless mistakes regarding American foreign policy in Middle East his political chutzpah is still present.

As a strong proponent of the interventionist foreign policy, Cheney criticizes Mr. Obama for saying, “Any world order that elevates one nation above others cannot long survive.” Then he goes on to say that current president proved himself wrong as it became clear that “without American pre-eminence, there can be no world order.”

I assume, this means that the United States is the most powerful country in the world and its security is essential to making our universe a better place. Fair enough. I have no objection. But when you realize that the author of these words used to believe that the Iraqis were going to welcome American troops as liberators instead of invaders it sounds a bit pointless. You cannot tell Iraqis that your country’s interests are superior to theirs and then expect them to greet you as a friend.

Things get more complicated, as we look at what Cheney said two decades ago and how those judicious words of a shrewd man contradict his thoughts today. First Mr. Cheney says that Saddam Hussein isn’t worth many American lives and 20 years later we witness the death of more than 4,000 Americans in Iraq War. I guess 4,000+ American soldiers aren’t very damn many.

Finally, it has come to my attention that despite the latest attempts by Cheney to stay active in American politics, he isn’t getting any support from the conservative media or high-profile Republican lawmakers. Many years after he received criticism from the current Republican front-runner in 2016 presidential race Sen. Rand Paul, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly made it clear on her show that Cheney cannot claim the moral high ground and talk about Iraq turmoil due to his poor judgment of the Iraq War as Vice President.

So instead of reprimanding Obama and pressing him to take hasty steps to solve the crisis, Cheney needs to take a quick look back at the history and think about the mistakes he has made, such as, selling the Iraq War as a part of the Global War on Terror.

Nurlan Orujlu can be reached at norujlu@umich.edu.


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