Let him off his leash, of course. First, the obligatory 9/11 reference:

When we were attacked on a terrible September morning four years ago, President Bush said that the struggle would be long and difficult, and would require our best effort and unfailing resolve. It is tough and it is dangerous to fight enemies who dwell in the shadows, who target the innocent, who plot destruction on a massive scale. And in the fight some of the hardest duties have come to the men and women of the United States Army.

Then the ever popular notice of where the central front in the War on Terror lies:

There’s still difficult work ahead, because the terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in a war against the civilized world. We are dealing with enemies that recognize no rule of warfare and accept no standard of morality. They have declared their intention to bring great harm to any nation that opposes their aims.

The intention to bring great harm to any nation that opposes their aims, eh? Sort of reminds one of this nation’s war strategy, doesn’t it?

STRATCOM Commander Gen. James Cartwright said at an opening ceremony that the new command would help the country convey a “new kind of deterrence.”

According to the STRATCOM release, “The command’s performance during Global Lightning demonstrated preparedness to execute its mission of providing integrated space and global strike capabilities to deter and dissuade aggressors and when directed, defeat adversaries through decisive joint global effects in support of STRATCOM missions.”

According to Arkin’s article in May, CONPLAN 8022 was completed in 2003, “putting in place for the first time a pre-emptive and offensive strike capability against Iran and North Korea.”

STRATCOM’s readiness for global strike was certified to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush in January 2004, Arkin reported.

But I digress. Back to the Veep’s speech, shall we?

The terrorists want to end American and Western influence in the Middle East. Their goal in that region is to gain control of a country, so they have a base from which to launch attacks and wage war against governments that do not meet their demands. The terrorists believe that by controlling an entire country, they will be able to target and overthrow other governments in the region . . .

I know, I’m quoting slightly out of context here, but one wonders if Cheney or his speechwriters have any sense of irony when he says this stuff. After all, one of the reasons the U.S. went into Iraq was to “establish a base from which to launch attacks and wage war against governments that do not meet” its demands, wasn’t it?

But now to the real meat of the speech, so to speak, and in this case its raw meat:

Some have suggested that by liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein, we simply stirred up a hornet’s nest. They overlook a fundamental fact: We were not in Iraq on September 11th, 2001, and the terrorists hit us anyway. The reality is that terrorists were at war with our country long before the liberation of Iraq, and long before the attacks of 9/11. . . .

Now they’re making a stand in Iraq — testing our resolve, trying to intimidate the United States into abandoning our friends and permitting the overthrow of a new Middle Eastern democracy. Recently we obtained a message from the number-two man in al Qaeda, a man named Zawahiri, that was sent to his chief deputy in Iraq, the terrorist Zarqawi. The letter makes clear that Iraq is part of a larger plan of imposing Islamic radicalism across the broader Middle East — making Iraq a terrorist haven and a staging ground for attacks against other nations. Zawahiri also expresses the view that America can be made to run once again.

I realize that some have advocated a sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq. This would be unwise in the extreme: a victory for terrorists, bad for the Iraqi people, and bad for the United States. To leave that country before the job is done would be to hand Iraq over to car bombers and assassins. That nation would return to the rule of tyrants, become a massive source of instability in the Middle East, and be a staging area for ever greater attacks against America and other civilized nations.

Point by point, shall we?

We have stirred up a hornet’s nest in Iraq, Mr. Cheney. No matter what one thinks about Saddam, it’s hard to argue that the situation for the Iraqi people, or for our security, is better off since the invasion. Indeed all the evidence suggests otherwise: we have made most Iraqis poorer, with less electricity, health care and clean water than before the invasion. More of them are also more likely to die from the effects of our brutal occupation and the exploding insurgency/nascent civil war.

And we have created Iraq as the central front in the war on terror by our actions: through waging aggressive war when we need not have, by torturing and murdering innocent civilians, and by our indiscriminate use of weapons that melt the skin off of women and children or vaporize their homes with them in them. We have destroyed the Iraqi economy, and allowed criminals and bandits to operate freely because we have failed to adequately secure the country or provide jobs for their unemployed young men. Finally, we have set up, trained and financially backed Shia “death squads” whose massacres of Sunnis will come back to haunt us in future generations.

In light of all this, how have we made our own homeland more secure? How can such death and misery deter future terrorist attacks that may harm my children or yours?

As for leaving now, how could things get any worse. Assassins already roam the land of Iraq, and car bombers already take their deadly toll. And as long as we stay there, we will fuel their anger and resentment at our presence. We are already the terrorists’ wet dream when it comes to recruitment of new “soldiers” to serve in the worldwide jihad against the West. Not that Bush or Cheney will ever admit any of this, determined as they are (much like a past US President) not to appear weak.

And now, for the big finale of his speech, Cheney gives one of our favorite people great big smoochies:

As some of you know, when I first ran for Vice President five years ago, my Democratic opponent was a fine U.S. senator named Joe Lieberman. We disagreed on some issues, but we stand together on this war. After visiting our troops in Iraq last month, Senator Lieberman said, quote, “almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be lost if those forces are withdrawn faster than the Iraqi military is capable of securing the country.” He is entirely correct.

Oh there’s more, but it’s all anticlimactic after that. But thank you Mr. Vice President. Thank you for lauding Lieberman by name. I hope like hell some gritty antiwar Dem uses your words in an attack ad against Joementum in next year’s Democratic primary election in Connecticut. That would be only fitting, don’t you think?

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