Monday, January 05, 2009

The hits keep coming

Dick Cheney is a funny guy. Unintentionally. He did a live interview on Face the Nation (CBS) with Bob Schieffer. A few tidbits --

Q Do you think, on reflection, that in fact we did have a bad plan [in Iraq]? ...

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we could debate that forever, and we may well. I think that the original campaign was masterfully done, in terms of the small, fast-moving forces you say that achieved our initial objectives of taking down the regime and capturing Baghdad. That was a masterful performance ... So I would chock that up to miscalculation. I'm not at all sure that having had 400,000 or 500,000 troops there would have achieved the objective we're talking about there. What we finally did, what finally sort of got us across the goal line here, was the surge the President decided upon, coupled with the counterinsurgency strategy.

It's nice of Dick to use an (American) football analogy. He would have us believe that things in Iraq had gone so brilliantly up to the end of 2006 that all that was needed was one last bit of heroism from the quarterback, George Bush, lunging for the goal line like Bart Starr in the 1967 Ice Bowl.

Dick also has an interesting counterfactual for how things could have been done better in the Iraq planning --

The question of how we moved forward, you can debate about whether or not we had the right structure in place, for example, was -- would we have been better off with setting up a government in exile, with exiled Iraqis and getting that organized and in place before we went in, and then turning it over to them.

This is a close relative of the Bush-Rice claim that Iraq only went wrong because America was too high minded to install another strong man after Saddam. But the talk of a "government-in-exile" brings up the name of Ahmad Chalabi, who was of course advocating precisely to be head of a government in exile and thus be installed once Saddam was out of the way. You don't hear much about Chalabi any more. Dick clearly has some regrets about that.

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