Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Dick Cheney has become the focus for discontent with the Bush administration. The Washington Post is running a four-part series on Cheney as the sinister mastermind behind the legitimation of torture, the advocacy of war on Iran, the subversion of the science of global warming and the destruction of America's moral authority. Meanwhile, he has started a complex constitutional row about the exact status of the vice-president. Plans are now being laid - by both Democrats and Republicans to get rid of Cheney. For many, perhaps most, people, both in America and the world, he has become the supreme symbol of the cynical and destructive abuse of power, a man apparently dedicated to the cause of engaging the US in a perpetual war on multiple global and domestic fronts. I don't know whether any of this is fair, though I do find myself mystified by Cheney - rather as I was by Donald Rumsfeld and John Bolton. There is about all these men a kind of vacuous defiance that seems to derive energy from strategic and political mayhem. Rumsfeld was incompetent and Bolton is a clown. What, then, is Cheney? He is not likely to be proved right about anything in his own lifetime, nor, probably, in anybody else's. The default justification at the moment seems to be that America has not been attacked since 9/11, but that, of course, leaves out the steady killing of US troops in Iraq. Cheney, I think, can only be vindicated by an Israelification of the American imagination. By persuading Americans that they are destined, perhaps for many generations, to fight this diffuse and costly war without any realistic hope of victory, he could create an Israel-like sense of national destiny. But even this project seems to have gone into reverse and, anyway, it is plainly impossible. Perhaps the grim reality is that Cheney is right, but, even if he is, he seems to be doing a desperately bad job of convincing anybody. So what is the grand plan behind all this? Is he right? I really want to know.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:07 am