Former Vice President Dick Cheney has once again emerged to warn Americans that ours is a very scary world, one that demands “a strong leader” who won’t hesitate to waterboard terrorism suspects and perhaps invade a few countries to make a point about American might.
Sitting down with neoconservative pundit William Kristol for a nearly two-hour interview, Cheney discussed at length what the sycophantic Kristol called his “distinguished,” “exemplary,” and “model” career. Most notable was Cheney’s brazen defense of the Bush administration’s post-9/11 national security policies, for which he asserted “I don’t think we have any apologies to make.”
Employing the Bush White House’s Orwellian phrase of choice to describe torture, the former vice president hailed “enhanced interrogation techniques” as key to the administration’s anti-terrorism efforts.
“[W]hat are you gonna do?” Cheney asked. “Just say ‘please, please, pretty please, tell us what you know’? That’s not gonna work.”
“So we developed a series of techniques. … Waterboarding was part of that process,” Cheney recalled.
Asked to reflect on the current national security landscape, Cheney hardly minced words. In a not-so-thinly veiled jab at longtime antagonist Rand Paul, Cheney said, “You’ve got to be a fool to believe an isolationist strategy is the way to go.”
Then came a good measure of quintessential Cheney fear-mongering.
“We’ve got no choice but to be involved in [the Middle East],” Cheney said. “And if we’re not actively involved there, some very bad things are gonna happen.”
Regardless of how embroiled the U.S. is in the region, Cheney expects a “mass casualty attack” at some point that will be even worse than the 9/11 attacks.
"So we're in a very dangerous period,” Cheney told Kristol, “and I think it's more threatening than the period before 9/11. I think 9/11 will turn out to be not nearly as bad as the next mass casualty attack against the United States – which, if and when it comes, will be with something far deadlier than [with] airline tickets and box cutters.”
Perhaps the creepiest part of the interview was Cheney’s prescription for righting America’s ship – essentially, “a strong leader” who will put the rest of the world in its place through the zealous exercise of American hegemony.
“We really need a strong leader,” Cheney declared as he denounced decreases in the rate of growth of military spending, “and we need somebody who can step up and remind the world what the United States is capable of, and demonstrate the willingness and ability to do that.”
While Kristol was eager for the old sage's thoughts on the lessons of 9/11 and advice moving forward, he did not ask Cheney what lessons he drew from the Bush administration's decision to demonstrate American capabilities in Iraq.
Watch Cheney’s interview here, via the Weekly Standard (Cheney's discussion of post 9/11 policies begins at about 1:40:00):