Dick Cheney slithered out from under a rock the other day to boast of the Iraq war he did so much to cause.
“I believed in it then. I look back on it now — It was absolutely the right thing to do,” he said in an appearance at Washington.
He said this despite the fact that no weapons of mass destruction — the entire pretext for that war — were ever found in Iraq.
America lost 4,487 lives, suffered tens of thousands of serious injuries, and spent more than $1 trillion over a tissue of falsehoods.
There has yet to be an accounting of who knew the pretext was false and led us into war nonetheless.
The Halliburton conglomerate was the then-vice president’s former employer. It was paid billions of dollars to cater the war he made. How much did it have to do with starting that war? How much profit did it make? What secret designs did it have on Iraq’s oil?
The American people still await answers to those questions — and many more.
None wait for them with more anguish than the families of the 4,487 U.S. troops who died in Cheney’s war and the tens of thousands who suffered savage physical and mental injuries.
They see Iraq sinking once again into sectarian warfare because of the chaos we made. They see our worst enemy in that region, Iran, empowered and emboldened by the elimination of its great rival, Saddam Hussein.
They see Ahmed Halabi, the schlemiel expatriate who conjured up Saddam’s supposed weapons, bidding to be the new prime minister of Iraq.
They see a new terrorist band too extreme even for al Qaeda attempting to dismember the country and impose a tyranny that would make even Saddam Hussein’s seem benign.
They are wondering, in anger and sorrow, “What was our sacrifice for?”
Yet Cheney’s crowd of neoconservative con artists, unrepentant and audacious, would have us throw more lives and treasure into that black hole, like gamblers wagering good money after bad.
They have never been held to account for what they have already cost us.
But the House of Representatives has no interest in that. It is obsessed instead with Benghazi.
Four Americans died there.
More than a thousand times as many died in Iraq.
What happened at Benghazi had no geopolitical consequences. It was an isolated incident that changed no balance of power.
The war we made on Iraq destabilized an entire region and hampered our effort in Afghanistan, from where we had been attacked.
But the House of Representatives is investigating only Benghazi, not Iraq.
The fault at Benghazi was to neglect the security of the Americans there. Afterward, the Obama administration was at best clumsy and perhaps disingenuous in its explanations. At least eight congressional probes have turned up nothing worse than that. So now there must be another, at a budgeted cost of $3 million.
There have been no greater failures of foreign policy than the calamitous invasion of Iraq and the gross mistakes made afterward, such as the rash decision to disband Iraq’s entire army. It was a colossal failure of intelligence as well.
But the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is investigating only Benghazi — like a pack of dogs in heat.
Most Americans — at least those who don’t submit to Faux News’s 24/7 brainwashing — can figure out the motives.
As with House Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit, it’s an attack strategy aimed at keeping President Obama on the defensive.
It’s a smoke screen for the irresponsible disinterest of the Republican leadership in doing anything of substance that the American people might actually care about.
Most of all, it’s an effort to undermine the leading though unannounced Democratic candidate to succeed Obama. Hilary Clinton was the secretary of state at the time of Benghazi. The investigation is about her, not Benghazi.
The Democrats ought to be fighting fire with fire. Harry Reid should have called long ago for a full-fledged investigation of Iraq. That’s something Nancy Pelosi ought to have done while the Democrats held the House.
But they haven’t. Maybe it really was because they felt the country needed to heal and move on. If so, it simply proves that no good deed goes unpunished.
More likely, it’s because any investigation of the lies that led us into Iraq would embarrass those Democrats who fell for them, including of course Clinton and Joe Biden.
Perhaps it will all come out eventually. History is like that.
But for now, will somebody please stuff Cheney back under his rock?
Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the St. Petersburg Times. He lives near Waynesville, North Carolina. Column courtesy of Context Florida.