Marching with Cheney

The vice president finds inspiration in the words of Walid Jumblatt. Here's what else the Lebanese politician has said.

Published March 10, 2006 8:17PM (EST)

It all sounded so inspiring.

When Dick Cheney spoke this week to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, he dumped down a thick layer of the spreading-Democracy stuff to justify the war in Iraq. "Across that region, the political dialogue has been transformed -- and politicians, scholars, students, and men and women from every walk of life are talking about freedom, equal rights and accountable institutions of government," Cheney said. He then quoted "one leader in Lebanon" as saying, "When I saw the Iraqi people voting, it was the start of a new Arab world ... The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

Who was that leader? Think Progress has done the Google search so we don't have to. It's Walid Jumblatt, a leader of the Lebanese Druze. As the Washington Post's Al Kamen noted the other day, Jumblatt is something of a recent convert to the coalition of the willing. Before he became an anti-Syrian -- and won a mention in a Cheney speech and audiences with the likes of Condoleezza Rice, the Brookings Institution and Joe Biden -- Jumblatt had a few other words that we didn't hear the vice president repeating. Among them:

"We are all happy when U.S. soldiers are killed [in Iraq] week in and week out. The killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq is legitimate and obligatory."

"The oil axis is present in most of the U.S. administration, beginning with its president, vice-president and top advisers, including Rice, who is oil-colored, while the axis of Jews is present with Paul Wolfowitz, the leading hawk who is inciting (America) to occupy and destroy Iraq."

When the space shuttle Columbia exploded in flight in 2003, Jumblatt said he felt "great joy" because an Israeli astronaut was on board.

The man once denied a U.S. visa for threatening the life of Wolfowitz says he's different now. In a talk at Brookings this week, he acknowledged that he has insulted "the policy of the States on a personal level and on a political level," but he says that's behind him. "I know I have said that, but that's the past," he said. "I don't regret it, but I have said that. And it took me a long time, a long political trip, and span in time to come to the States to ask for the States' help against the Syrian dictatorship."

March on, gentlemen.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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