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Baghdad Dick
Cheney’s Central Fraud

The only men smiling in Baghdad

“We’re fighting a war against terror,” Dick Cheney said in Baghdad. “We are here, above all, because the terrorists who have declared war on America and other free nations have made Iraq the central front in that war.”

So we’re back to that fraudulent syllogism: Terrorists declared war on America on 9/11. Terrorists made Iraq the central front in the war. America and its allies attacked terrorists in their central front. Interesting timeline. The vice president isn’t just rewriting history. He’s reinventing time. There’s an even more startling reversal in that line: The implicit admission that the United States in Iraq, “above all,” not because of weapons of mass destruction, not because of Saddam Hussein’s regime, not even because of democracy, but because terrorists chose the place and time for the war. And one more startling admission: That Iraqis themselves, who don’t figure in Cheney’s syllogism of infinite justice except as welcome mats, don’t matter. Not even as part of those on whom terrorists declared war. They just happen to provide the venue. The bodies. The roadies. And they’re non-union. Fabulous. The line brings the administration once again to that other fraud: We’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here. That one is such an article of faith that I’ve yet to see its underlying principle challenged anywhere, let alone to the president’s or vice president’s faces. The reasoning doesn’t merely suggest but asserts flat out that it’s acceptable and defensible for the United States to use another country as its guinea-pig buffer. It’s somehow more acceptable that in America’s self-declared war on terror, Iraqis may die, but Americans may not (except for the poor shmucks in uniform forced to slaughter).

Study the reasoning for a moment—a reasoning the president and every member of his administration never hesitate to use—and you quickly realize that its kinship with the imperial hubris of the 19 th century is a direct DNA match. So Dick Cheney’s words have, after all, a logic of their own. It’s the logic of the colonialist, shorn of the desire to colonize, but hopped up on the presumption of superiority. The West, and America in particular, are what deserve protection, praise and propagation. The East is barbarian territory. Beyond redemption. It’s not just a war to protect the West. It’s a war to ensure a perpetual war on the East.

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