Cheney – I think you have to go back to the problems that Andrew Jackson had with Calhoun to find an example of a former vice-president who chooses to wage war against a new administration. Am I right about that? His behavior is in such bad taste that I am driven to wonder why he is acting this way. In accordance with "Lang's Rules of Analysis" (25 May, 2007 in SST) I suppose that the most likely answer is that he is simply afraid of his own fate. He was so central to everything that occurred in the first GW Bush administration that he stands to lose heavily as details are revealed of the "policies" that he and his henchmen and allies espoused. At the risk of sinking to the level of "reductio ad hitlerum," I must say that a lot of his stated rationale for torture as an instrument of statecraft is reminiscent of a famous speech that Himmler made to senior SS leaders at the Wewelsburg Castle. "We must sacrifice our higher sensitivities in the service of the state, etc." (paraphrasing) Ugh. Cheney also sounds as though someone is feeding him talking points. I doubt that he is smart enough to originate a lot of these memes and themes.
Iraq- The Bushies in exile are selling the line that we have made a new Iraq (a brave new Iraq), an Iraq that Obama may "lose" through hasty withdrawal. This is "preparation of the information battlefield" for an eventual "we wuz robbed" (nous sommes trahis) propaganda campaign.
Where is this new Iraq? Is it the Iraq in which we have reversed the social order by putting the Shia Arabs in charge so that they can demonstrate that there was nothing unique about the way the Sunnis used to treat them. Is it the Iraq that is now inevitably going to be in the "orbit" of Iran? Is it the Iraq in which the central government in Baghdad has even less authority in Kurdistan than before. Is it the Iraq that bristles with hostility to the US? Where is it? It is nowhere. We broke Iraq and now we are inevitably leaving it patched together with duct tape. Will it fall apart when we leave? Maybe.
Afghanistan – "She who must be obeyed" is a bigtime civic activist (Tribune of the People) here in our fair city. She is often invited to conferences, meetings, workshops, etc. at which the developer/citygovernment/chamberofcommerce complex stages farces that they call strategic reviews or citizen/government interactions on questions of land use. At these theatrical productions the "players" earnestly present the "issues" and "possible decisions" to the assembled "Tribunes of the people." There are Power Point shows. Lunch is served. The "players" (with Tribunes) break down into small groups where "hard questions" are asked and sincere "players" give the Tribunes heartfelt responses. In the end the herd instinct of humans prevails and the Tribunes "buy into" the players' plans.
The US military has become expert in the business of manipulating public opinion. They hire contractors to help them. The Army has created a basic officer personnel branch for career propaganda officers. Vietnam caused the Army to believe that management of public opinion was a basic task of warfare along with fire, maneuver and logistics. Now, we are all targets of "information operations," some mounted overseas by foreign government, some by our own government to include the US military. They mean well.
The vogue for "strategic reviews" is a manifestaton of this process. I have been invited to a few of these. In these farcical proceedings, "guru" types are invited, lunch is served, small group discussion takes place, and the talking heads and "gurus" become advocates for the desires of those who have successfully flattered and nodded them into agreement. The press is full of the oped pieces of McChrystal's "advisers," oped pieces that concentrate on settng the stage for eventul demands for more and more resources for Afghanistan. What is not asked, EVER, is the simple question of what the ultimate goal of the United States should be in Afghanistan. Why is that?
I feel sorry for the president. He is under constant attack by both internal and external propagandists and information warriors. pl