President Obama and his team, working with our allies and negotiating partners, reached a historic diplomatic agreement with Iran yesterday, effectively ensuring that a dangerous Middle East foe will not acquire nuclear weapons.
And wouldn’t you know it, Dick Cheney is outraged. MSNBC’s Eric Levitz reported this morning:
By reaching a historic deal that forces Iran to significantly scale back its nuclear program, President Obama has brought the world closer to nuclear war than it has been since World War II, according to former Vice President Dick Cheney.Cheney told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday that the deal will not only enable Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, but motivate its enemies in the Middle East to develop their own nukes, setting off a potentially catastrophic arms race.
“What Obama has done is, in effect, sanctioned the acquisition by Iran of nuclear capability,” the failed former vice president said, apparently content to turn reality on its ear.
Cheney added that he believes the agreement to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program will “put us closer to use – actual use of nuclear weapons than we’ve been at any time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.”
Got that? There was a Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, but the international agreement that stops Iran’s nuclear weapons is, from the unique perspective of Dick Cheney, even more dangerous.
Rather than going point by point, fact-checking every error of fact and judgment the former V.P. made, it’s probably more informative to shine a light on the detail Cheney chose not to mention.
Revisiting our discussion from April, let’s not forget that Iran didn’t have a meaningful nuclear weapons program until Tehran developed one – during the Bush/Cheney administration. It was on Cheney’s watch that Iran’s total number of centrifuges grew from 164 to 8,000.
What kind of price did Iran pay for taking these provocative steps? Actually, Cheney didn’t do anything – he was busy watching his Iraq policy destabilize the entire region while allowing North Korea’s nuclear weapons program to expand without any pushback from Cheney’s administration.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an aggressive hawk and no ally of Democrats, conceded not too long ago, “I think the Bush administration, they were a miserable failure when it came to controlling Iran’s nuclear ambition.”
It was Cheney’s policy that greatly expanded Iran’s power and influence in the Middle East. It was Cheney’s policy that allowed Iran to advance its nuclear-weapons program without consequence. It was Cheney’s mess that President Obama is now successfully cleaning up.
If the Republican wants to apologize for his failures, I suspect Obama would be gracious about it. But for Cheney to run to Fox to whine for no reason is a bit much.
About a year ago, Cheney appeared on a Sunday show and was asked about his stunning failures while in office. “If we spend our time debating what happened 11 or 12 years ago, we’re going to miss the threat that is growing and that we do face,” he replied.
In other words, the failed former V.P. can’t be bothered to defend his own record – probably because it’s indefensible. The fact remains, however, that Cheney stood by and watched as Iran’s nuclear program expanded, and it’s President Obama who didn’t just talk about fixing the problem; he actually did it.