Just to weigh in on the Obama-Cheney debate on Thursday, Obama defends the America I love, and Cheney disgraces it. From what Brooks says in this column, Cheney’s views were rejected even by the Bush administration. Obama says the right things as far as I’m concerned. So what about indefinite detention and other stuff the left worries about? Obama inherited a bad situation. If decent people had been thinking about how to handle this situation, we would never have had Gitmo, rendition, torture, and all the other weird stuff that went against centuries of Western law and tradition.
Cheney says this weird stuff protected the US from another attack. That’s like saying that it also protected us from an invasion by intergalactic aliens. When do we give them credit for stopping an invasion, rather than just saying that no one tried to invade? When there is no attack one day after 9/11. After one month? After seven years? There is no way to know. Certainly there were no well planned attacks against the US that were prevented. Some incompetents were caught, and some well planned attacks were carried out in other countries. I guess Cheney doesn’t care if some Spaniards or some Brits died on his watch.
Obama faces a tough situation. Of course the real villains are the terrorists, and there are still terrorists out there. But the Bush administration handled its reaction to 9/11, Iraq and the “war on terror” badly. That now makes Obama’s job tougher than it would have been if better people had been in charge on 9/11. Better in the sense of more competent (maybe they would have read the intelligence saying bin Laden planned to attack the US) and better in the sense of more moral (no torture, adherence to US and international laws and mores).
Obama, I’m with you. Try to do the right thing.