Cheney attacks Obama on Afghanistan: rewriting history.
Bush administration veterans and their partisans have launched a frontal assault on President Barack Obama over the war in Afghanistan and what former Vice President Dick Cheney called Obama's "dithering" and "waffling" on whether to send more U.S. troops.
Do we smell a campaign of historic revisionism by those widely seen as primarily responsible for the disaster in Afghanistan that has prompted Army Gen. Stanley A. McCrystal's request for up to 80,000 more soldiers?
It was, after all, the Bush administration that failed in 2001 to deploy U.S. forces to stop Osama bin Laden, Ayman Zawahri, Mullah Mohammad Omar and thousands of their followers from escaping into Pakistan and then diverted U.S. troops, time, resources and energy to the 2003 invasion of Iraq before the al Qaida and Taliban threat was eliminated.
It was also the Bush administration that empowered the return of the warlords whose deprivations sparked the Taliban's formation in the early 1990s. And it was the Bush administration that helped bring to Afghanistan and maintain in power the corruption-rife government of Hamid Karzai.
As late as December 2005, despite official warnings about the Taliban resurgence and a lack of U.S. resources for critical reconstruction programs, the Bush administration planned to reduce the 19,000 U.S. troops then in Afghanistan by 2,500 soldiers in order to bolster hard-pressed U.S. forces in Iraq.
And even after seven years of war _ and the deaths of 630 U.S. service members, more than 400 other coalition soldiers and thousands of Afghans _ the Bush administration lacked strategies for dealing with the al Qaida and Taliban safe haven in the tribal areas of Pakistan, where it backed a military dictatorship, or building Afghan security forces, according to the Government Accountability Office.
The Bush administration's last secretary of defense - who happens to be Obama's first secretary of defense - Robert Gates last month described the Bush administration's approach to Afghanistan as a "holding action" that lacked "a comprehensive strategy" or enough soldiers.
By the time Obama administration took office, the Taliban-led insurgency infected huge swaths of Afghanistan while allied extremists held sway in virtually all of Pakistan's tribal areas and were imposing hard-line Islamic rule in the Swat Valley, 60 miles from Islamabad.
Yet there was Cheney, receiving the "Keeper of the Flame Award" on Wednesday night from the right-wing Center for Security Policy, accusing Obama of jeopardizing the lives of U.S. troops, hurting U.S. allies and encouraging the insurgents by delaying a decision on McChrystal's request.
The White House response?
"I think it's a curious comment. I think it's pretty safe to say that the vice president was for seven years not focused on Afghanistan," said Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs. "Even more curious, given the fact that a increase in troops sat on desks in this White House, including the Vice President's, for more than eight months, a resource request filled by President Obama in March."