Darth Cheney: crazy as a loon

In Cheney's view, withdrawal from Iraq would first and foremost make the United States look weak. And that, in turn, would have cataclysmic domino-style effects across the globe: Afghanistan could fall, and so could Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The Iranians could get nukes. And the United States itself would become dramatically more vulnerable to attack, not to mention lose its ability to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests.
Cheney really loathes weakness. And like his fellow neoconservatives, he is consumed with the conviction that an all-powerful United States is both imperative to American security and the best thing for the world. Moral leadership, multilateralism, containment, human rights -- those are all less crucial than maintaining unquestioned power, at the point of a gun if necessary.
The fact that, despite spending tens of billions of dollars, our vaunted technological prowess hasn't restored basic services like electricity and water in Iraq makes us look weak.

Despite three years of nation-building, the institutions of the new government we've created are extensions of those parties -- drawn along sectarian lines -- that have the most powerful militias. That makes us look weak.

The fact that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have fled the country because our unrivalled military couldn't establish a minimal level of security makes us look weak.

With our attention elsewhere, Afghanistan is unraveling and the Taliban are making a comeback. That makes us look weak.

Our allies oppose many of the policy choices we've made in responding to terror -- Iraq, Gitmo, etc. -- and that makes us, in fact, weaker.

That our leaders are in denial about those realities makes us look like mindless ideologues. That costs us credibility and weakens us further.

The fact that our right-wing compulsively bashes the UN, that we pulled out of Kyoto and have undermined the nuclear nonproliferation framework -- all in the name of American strength -- makes us weaker. U.S. representatives to various international conferences have been booed by their fellow diplomats. All of that means we have less power to influence global institutions than ever.

Staying in Iraq because of arguments like Cheney's proves the paradox: we are weakened by our addiction to hegemony.

But most of all -- and most ironically -- the pervasive dread that has served Republicans so well at the ballot box here at home has shown the world that we are, despite our strength, a nation of cowards. Five years after a terrorist attack -- a bad one, yes -- we are filled with horror, we suffer nightsweats and we've developed a national paranoia towards the Muslim world. It's hard to look strong when you're shaking with fear.

After five years of rule by nutcases obsessed with hard power at the expense of real leadership, we've never been weaker. That's the consequence of basing policies on a misguided sense of American exceptionalism.

All of this is so obvious that I'm almost embarrassed to write it.

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