Democrats & Liberals Archives

VP Debate

In 2000, many Republicans said they weren’t voting for George W. Bush, rather they were voting for Dick Cheney. If you compare Cheney’s performance in last night’s debate with Bush’s performance last week, you can see why.

For one, Cheney was able to mischaracterize John Kerry and John Edwards without spewing the same memorized phrase over and over, but more importantly, he had a clear vision of a post 9/11 US foreign policy… a vision that is totally wrong.

Other than blurting out "tax cuts!" a couple times, Cheney ceded domestic policy to Kerry and Edwards whose positions are apparently unassailable, so I'll do the same and concentrate on foreign policy.

Last night, Cheney laid out the Bush doctrine of preventative war and how it fits into neo-conservative foreign policy. He said,

And, after 9/11, it became clear that we had to do several things to have a successful strategy to win the global war on terror, specifically
  • that we had to go after the terrorists where ever we might find them,
  • that we also had to go after state sponsors of terror, those who might provide sanctuary or safe harbor for terror.
  • And we also then finally had to stand up democracies in their stead afterwards, because that was the only way to guarantee that these states would not again become safe harbors for terror or for the development of deadly weapons.

Going after the terrorists is a big "duh". Unfortunately, as Edwards pointed out, President Bush "made a decision to divert attention from that and instead began to plan for the invasion of Iraq."

And that is the problem. Cheney and the neo-conservative ideology he's quoting state, in order to be safe, the United States must use it's military might - alone if necessary - to systematically dismantle rogue nations around the world and replace them with democracies.

There are so many things wrong with this. To start with, Cheney's ideology, as with most ideologies dreamt up in ivory towers (communism and supply-side economics come to mind), assumes everyone makes rational decisions. These ideologies tend to collapse when applied to real live people, rather than mathematical or philosophical models.

Replacing autocratic regimes with democracies sounds good on paper. Unfortunately, history is full of examples of democracies that went horribly wrong: Hitler was the product of a democracy, Iran is a democracy, and an ultra-nationalist party headed by a convicted war criminal was only narrowly defeated in Serbia recently.

It's almost certain that, if free and fair elections were held in Iraq today, the democratically elected government would be dominated by Islamic fundamentalists loyal to al Sistani and al Sadr, and would be hostile to the United States.

President Bush has said he will oppose such a government. It remains to be seen how he will justify dissolving the freely elected Islamic theocracy of a sovereign Islamic nation that he himself created.

Elements of the Bush administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney, have shifted the focus of our war against al Qaeda terrorists to jousting windmills - toppling autocratic regimes around the globe and turning them into democracies. And the worst part is, they're not even good at it.

Posted by American Pundit at October 6, 2004 11:02 AM