As the war in Afghanistan moves forward under the leadership of Barack Obama, the American public heard from a couple of the military geniuses who got us in this mess to begin with. Both Cheney and Rumsfeld thought it was their duty to comment on how badly Obama was conducting the war effort and how much “better” things were under their leadership. First Cheney insisted that Obama must commit to accepting the military troop requests without question and any delay is harmful to the men fighting on the ground. Then, after the President’s speech, Rumsfeld comes out of hiding to claim that all the military commanders in Afghanistan got everything they wanted during his tenure as Secretary of Defense. The problem is that their perception of the situation is contradicted by the facts.
Both Cheney and Rumsfeld have a history of ignoring Afghanistan to the point of criminal neglect. The rush to war in Iraq and the disastrous consequences of that decision occupied so much of their time and energy that ‘victory’ in Afghanistan was literally allowed to slip through our fingers. Yet when asked directly by the press last week if the Bush administration bore any responsibility for the situation in Afghanistan, Cheney responded “I basically don’t”.
If it is not the Bush administration’s responsibility, then whose fault is it? Despite what Rumsfeld so vociferously asserted, troop requests going back all the way to the beginning of the war were left unfulfilled. Even the extra troops requested to finally capture Osama Bin Laden in Tora Bora were denied. By 2006 bush was stating openly to the press he wasn’t that worried about Bin Laden and by 2007 the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen said “In Iraq, we do what we must, in Afghanistan, we do what we can”.
Clearly, the struggle in Afghanistan had been relegated to a secondary position in the Bush administration’s ‘global war on terror’. Yet Cheney takes no responsibility and Rumsfeld lies about giving the generals everything they asked for. They both have books scheduled to be released in 2010 and the embarrassment of having a war in Afghanistan still raging long after they both declared ‘victory’ must be profound. In fact, with Osama Bin Laden still at large, the near collapse of the world economy and the Bush/Cheney name forever linked to torture in the eyes of the world, Afghanistan was one of the only bright spots of the entire administration. Now we see that even that ‘victory’ was no more real than the infamous “mission accomplished” banner after the ‘victory’ in Iraq.
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