Charita Goshay: Cheney was wrong at some point on the Iraq quagmire

Charita Goshay

If you swung and missed on your job as often as Vice President Dick Cheney has on Iraq, you would have been cut from the roster by now.

He was wrong about Mohammed Atta.

He was wrong in 2005 about the insurgency in Iraq being in its “last throes.”

He was wrong -- thankfully -- about aluminum tubes and mobile labs and mushroom clouds.

Now comes a YouTube video offering from 1994 in which Mr. Cheney lays out a methodical argument as to why invading Iraq would be a grave mistake, a “quagmire” as he called it, of biblical proportions; a quixotic joust with fate.

So, was he wrong then, or is he wrong, now?

Some Cheney defenders are quick to wield the argument that Sept. 11 “changed everything.”

Well, yes and no.

Born suspects

Life has changed in that we’ve joined the rest of the world in never again feeling entirely safe.

It has changed for Arab-Americans, Muslims, and people even suspected of being Muslim, in that they have joined the ranks of blacks and Latinos as born suspects.

Certainly in Iraq, things have changed.

It now has one less dictator, but a lot more bomb-throwers.

Masked death squads recently have begun to deliberately murder and incinerate infants and kindergartners. That’s new and different.

It’s Afghanistan

Still, not everything has changed. The fight has always been, and remains, in Afghanistan.

Osama bin Laden still is alive and well and seems to be on TV more than Larry King.

Though the 19 men who used three of our own jets to attack us were Saudis, our policy toward Saudi Arabia hasn’t changed -- not one whit. We’re still propping up a kingdom that holds our coats while we do all the fighting, while it ignores the proliferation of schools that continue to produce the very kind of men who attacked us.

What also hasn’t changed is the fact that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with Sept. 11. “Al-Qaida” is not Arabic for “Baghdad.”

Like Col. Nathan Jessep in “A Few Good Men,” perhaps Mr. Cheney believes we can’t handle the truth as he sees it, that we need sentries like him in the watchtower to do battle against those dragons who lurk just beyond the wall; that someone must step up to do those things for which we mere flag-wavers lack the stomach.

We understand that keeping this nation secure is an enormously complicated challenge, that there are people and governments bent on our destruction.

But really, what’s new about that?

Anyone remember Nikita Khrushchev? Adolf Hitler?

King George III?

Only the names and ideologies change.

Most Americans know and understand that we sleep in relative peace and safety because someone else doesn’t.

We might not be as smart as Dick Cheney, but we know a quagmire when we see one.

Reach Canton Repository Writer Charita M. Goshay at (330) 580-8313 or e-mail: