A bust of Dick Cheney was unveiled at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, a customary honor for former vice presidents that had the ancillary benefit of celebrating the ex-veep's achievement of ending radical Islamic terrorism via the invasion of Iraq.
The logic of the Cheney-advocated 2003 Iraqi invasion was widely questioned at the time given that the horrific murders of Sept. 11, 2001, were perpetrated not by the Iraqi government but by al-Qaida terrorists of mostly Saudi origin working for an organization based in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some observers also wondered whether the U.S.'s security interests would be served by overthrowing the government of a heavily armed, factionally and religiously divided country without any subsequent plan in place to provide its citizens with security or basic services.
However, in retrospect it is hard to say that Cheney's decisions were anything but deeply prescient, and one thing is certain: The invasion ended Islamic terrorism and did not create a civil war that ironically allowed al-Qaida to flourish in an area where it had no prior presence, ultimately begetting an even more dangerous and inhumane splinter group called ISIS that continues to threaten American lives to this day.
Many speakers at Thursday's event commented on the unique courage demonstrated by Cheney's willingness to commit thousands of young American soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines to death or permanent incapacitation abroad despite his admission that he intentionally avoided military service when he himself was a young man during a time of war.
Cheney was also praised for his ethical decision not to arrange for a company which had very recently paid him tens of millions of dollars and in which he had "a continuing financial interest" to become one of the largest beneficiaries of United States federal spending in Iraq. One can only imagine the repercussions if he had actually done something like that.
Here's to Dick Cheney!
*Everything in this article is a grim, rueful joke except for the part about the traditional vice presidential bust being unveiled at the Capitol on Thursday. That actually did happen.