Thursday, November 17, 2005


I listened to Dick Cheney's speech on the Iraq War yesterday and became angrier by the minute. I had thought he would speak on the events of the War and perhaps even offer some kind of an Exit Strategy. Before listening to him, I had just read a news report that said ten American soldiers have been killed in a two-day period, and I fully expected Cheney to mention this, perhaps display a little grief and sympathy for the families.

Instead I heard a monologue of political spin, of Cheney complaining of Democrats who are complaining about the War. He accused them of near-treasonous activity, stating that they were encouraging "the enemy", and calling the rumors and chatter around the country about the purposeful twisting of pre-War Intelligence "reprehensible".

There he stood, clad in a tuxedo, collar and cuffs so white they were well nigh dazzling, this rich, rather overweight millionaire, his mouth a downward slash of disapproval, his chubby face stern and disapproving, the picture of the typical corporate mogul....and I felt a surge of anger.

Why didn't he mention those ten dead Americans? Surely their deaths were worth at least a moment or two in that speech! Although he did mention that the Democrats were making a mockery of those who gave their lives in this Noble Cause, he failed to mention that none of the promises made by him and President Bush before this War have materialized. The oilwells of Iraq have failed to pay expenses. The WMD were never found. The Iraqi did not welcome us with flowers strewn at our feet. There was no nuclear danger from Saddam.

And who is the "enemy"? They are sometimes called "insurgents" and sometimes called "terrorists". Evidently the insurgents are Iraqi that do not appreciate the American occupation. The terrorists have drifted over the border of Iraq from other lands. From some 200 attacks two years ago, they have escalated to more than 700 attacks, with more sophisticated methods and a seemingly endless supply of explosives.

Why didn't Cheney mention all this? Some explanation of just what kind of a "victory" he has in mind would help us all. When we have killed every terrorist from every Arab country and every young Iraqi intent upon an American-free Iraq, will that then be victory? Is this victory possible, or will there be an endless stream of the "enemy" popping out of nowhere to kill our fighters?

I found Cheney irritating because I don't think he has ever seen combat, and doesn't seem to have much sympathy for our tired, under-equipped soldiers, some of them serving two to three tours of duty in this conflict. It seems that they are sent on daily patrols of booby-trapped streets to fight an enemy they can't see and can't recognize. What's the use of that? Why send patrols of soldiers down streets loaded with incendiary devices, blown up by the ones they can't sniff out, sitting ducks for these hidden explosives and missiles? Why not let the Iraqi patrol themselves?

My knowledge of warfare is not great. I lived through World War II and, like every American, cheered our troops and celebrated every victory. One of my fondest memories is VJ Day in the small town where I lived. Cars were parked willy-nilly in the streets, with people dancing on their tops. There were cheers of joy and tears of joy. There was singing and shouting! I was so proud to be an American, a young girl growing up in the greatest country in the world!

Some of that pride has been tarnished. Now I read of torture, of lies, of corruption. It bothers me. We are the United States of America. We don't torture, uncivilized countries do that. We are better than that. We are Americans. Well, that idea has bit the dust.

Those young soldiers, men and women, in Iraq have no way out, short of desertion. They must obey their superiors....who undoubtedly hover in comparative safety in the Green Zone. They engage in such battles as Iron Fist or Iron Lung or whatever the Hell it is, and if they are completely sick of it all and miserable, there is no way to escape.

But Dick Cheney, at the first hint of danger, is whisked off to his "Undisclosed Location", out of harm's way. No one knows where this place is, or if it is a magnificently furnished getaway or a Hidey-Hole dug into the earth. I suppose this is done to keep him safe, should something happen to the President. But he might remember that others do not have this privilege and, to their families, their lives are just as important as his. As a nation, we cannot afford to lose our youth to a Noble Cause that looks more and more like an Ignoble Cause.

Anyway, these are the thoughts and emotions that crossed my mind as I listened to Dick Cheney speak. I see nothing charismatic or compassionate about him. I see nothing but a flinty-eyed, jowelly man who is angry because some people disagreed with him. Joseph Wilson disagreed with him, too, and his wife paid the price.

So, to wipe the memory of that speech from my mind, I am going to remember those ten dead Americans. They will never come home to continue their lives, but will be shipped incognito, coffins draped with flags, to be mysteriously unloaded in the States and sent upon their various ways. No trumpets will play as they are unloaded from the plane, no drums will toll. But I hope that other Americans are paying attention and counting. I hope they, too, remember those ten dead Americans and all of the others who have died or been wounded in that fray. We never see pictures of the wounded, either. But they are there, folks, they are there.

Dick Cheney, shame on you! You missed a good opportunity to talk about all of the things Americans are wondering about. Instead of yelping about Democrats, you could have voiced a little sympathy for the young people caught in the quagmire you have created. You could have shed a tear. You could have revealed a little humanity instead of cold, steely anger.

But I guess that is asking too much of a wily old politician still on the campaign trail.