Mark Danner has a probing article at TomDispatch.com on the career arc of Dick Cheney, the self-selected Vice President under George W. Bush. Cheney’s approach to history, an attitude he shared with Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld, was the idea he could make his own reality, independent of history. Previous precedents on waterboarding as torture? They don’t matter. The predictable civil war that resulted from our invasion of Iraq? Doesn’t matter. History is made by the big swinging dicks, no regrets, no apologies.
Even when the insurgency in Iraq was obvious to all, Cheney and Rumsfeld sought to deny that reality. Recall that Cheney said in 2005 that the insurgency was in its last throes even as it was beginning to peak. Recall that Rumsfeld said in July 2003 “I don’t do quagmires” even as he and the U.S. military were sinking into one in post-invasion Iraq.
History teaches humility, but Cheney and Rumsfeld were having none of that. History is a sovereign remedy to hubris, but Cheney and Rumsfeld were all about hubris. Faced with history’s uncertainty, as represented by favorite questions like “Yes, but” and “Are you sure,” Cheney and Rumsfeld hissed like vampires confronting garlic.
The end of history — in the sense of ignoring its lessons — came with Cheney and Rumsfeld.
And like Danner says in his article, we’re left today with the bloody mess these dicks created.