President Obama on Tuesday marked the historic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq's cities by noting, "The Iraqi people are rightly treating this day as a cause for celebration." Alas, for former Vice President Dick Cheney, not so much. Cheney, who four years ago declared the insurgency in its "last throes," on Monday warned of new attacks. Of course, back in December, he praised President Bush for signing the very status of forces agreement that mandated the American pullback this week.
In an interview with the Washington Times, Cheney offered the latest line of attack in his never-ending campaign to claim that President Obama had made the nation less safe. Regarding this week's milestone required by the SOFA signed by George W. Bush and Prime Minister Maliki, Cheney declared himself "concerned" by General Odierno's statements regarding the redeployment:
"What he says concerns me: That there is still a continuing problem. One might speculate that insurgents are waiting as soon as they get an opportunity to launch more attacks. I hope the Iraqis can deal with it. At some point they have to stand on their own, but I would not want to see the U.S. waste all the tremendous sacrifice that has gotten us to this point."
If Cheney was gripped by such fears, he certainly wasn't voicing them when President Bush inked the agreement last year. On December 14, 2008, Bush in his press conference with Maliki announcing the pact specifically addressed this week's benchmark:
"First of all, we're here at the Iraqi -- at the request of the Iraqi government. It's an elected government. There are certain benchmarks that will be met -- such as troops out of the cities by June of '09. And then there's a benchmark at the end of the agreement.
As to the pace of meeting those agreements, that will depend of course upon the Iraqi government, the recommendations of the Iraqi military, and the close coordination between General Odierno and our military."
Just one week later, Vice President Cheney lauded that same agreement as just one of many accomplishments of the Bush administration in its Iraq war:
"I think the fact that we were able to go in as effectively as we did and take down the Saddam regime, that we were able to kill his sons, capture him, bring him to trial, that we had three national elections, that the Iraqis wrote a constitution that's bearing fruit today, that they've got a government that we just signed a historic agreement with, a status of forces agreement -- all of those things happened, including the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- all of those things happened up through the end of '06."
Of course, what also happened in 2006 was the dramatic escalation of the Iraqi insurgency and the descent of the country into civil war. Sadly, in May 2005, Vice President Cheney looked into his crystal ball and, as usual, got it all wrong:
"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time. The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."
For their part, 73% of Americans favor the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Baghdad and others Iraqi cities. That support is bipartisan, with 74% of Republicans backing the pullout. Unsurprisingly, Dick Cheney is not among them.
Apparently, his insurgency against Barack Obama is far from being in its last throes.
(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)