Cheney, Rumsfeld bring no real answers to Nevada |

Cheney, Rumsfeld bring no real answers to Nevada

When Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Northern Nevada, they brought praise for the troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with vague generalizations about the great successes the war is achieving.

The first of those is well-deserved, as many of the troops are serving multiple tours of duty. The second falls far short of bolstering our confidence that there will be a positive outcome.

It’s true that our country has been free of major terrorist attacks since Sept. 11, 2001, but whether that’s an accomplishment of the war in Iraq is an open question. What if the billions of dollars being dumped into Iraq every month had been spent on domestic security? Our borders, including the one to the south, would be tight as a drum by now. And nearly 2,700 families would not be mourning their loved ones. More than 60 U.S. troops have died this month alone in Iraq.

Cheney noted the war has denied the terrorists a base from which to launch attacks. So where are the constant attacks against our troops coming from? Where are the al-Qaida leaders who are communicating so freely with the outside world? Why are there more Taliban attacks in Afghanistan than at any other time in five years?

What are the signs of the tremendous progress that Cheney referenced? Even if Iraqi security forces are able to control much of the country by the end of the year, what happens if that country falls into full-scale civil war? Will the whole thing fall like a house of cards if the United States leaves, even if that’s a decade from now?

Cheney and Rumsfeld brought no real answers with them to Nevada. Rather, they ask Americans to trust their instincts rather than evidence on the ground and the history of the region in which Americans are fighting. Rumsfeld seemed to suggest that answers are still years away. “The men and women in the service – five, 10, 20 years from now – will see a world where the terrorists have been shut down.”

If he’s correct, history will remember this administration well. The trouble is, it will be long gone before this conflict passes from current events into history.