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August 15, 2007

What to Do With Cheney?


The politics of impeachment

by Jon Basil Utley

Bush and Cheney have little to lose from spreading the war, but the Republican Party has very much to lose. Its only way out is to impeach Cheney. That would bring Bush back to reality and alleviate the main pressure upon him to expand the wars.

A new war, $5/gal. gasoline (as analyst Jim Cramer has warned), and a possible crash of globalization as Korea, Japan, China, and Europe reel from oil shortages would be the ruin of the Republican Party for a generation. "Republicans are watching their private poll numbers plunge," says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Already senators up for reelection are becoming desperate. The poll landscape shows "Republicans who ought to be completely secure are maybe in the upper 40s, low 50s, and weaker ones being blown away in landslides." And this was even before the latest battle on immigration, which "may well have cost it the Hispanic vote for a generation." (The Economist, Aug. 11, 2007.)

Much evidence points toward administration plans to extend the war to Iran. The risk of such a war getting out of hand and destroying or blockading much of the world's oil supplies is enormous. At the very least it would make Europe even more dependent upon Russian energy, make America even more of a pariah in the Muslim world, and make extraction of U.S. troops from Iraq even more problematic. For other results, see "12 Consequences of Attacking Iran."

The president, according to many visitors, seems almost spaced out, oblivious to his unpopularity and the disasters he has created. We already know how his religious beliefs are a mix of End Times eschatology and self-righteousness, combined with daily readings of Scottish philosopher Oswald Chambers, who idealized warfare and preached that divinely guided decisions will be vindicated and seemingly negative feedback may be proof that God is there, testing your faith, strengthening your resolve.

Constantly we hear of Bush's concerns that after he leaves office, a new American president will not bomb Iran, so he must do it now. And he is being urged on by Cheney's neoconservatives while the Armageddonites demand that Bush protect Israel now so God can destroy it later, in His way, along with most of the rest of humanity. Of course, Israel, with 200 of its own nukes, can easily defend itself, and Iran is subject to deterrence just like the Soviets once were. They are no crazier than some of our guys. This is already widely recognized, as a new poll shows that 45 percent of Americans support impeachment for Bush (and 54 percent want Cheney impeached). Furthermore, Karl Rove may have resigned because he can’t dissuade Bush from attacking Iran, and he wants to be well clear of the political consequences.

Before Iraq, we used to hear from neoconservatives how displaying America's destructive power would shock and awe other Arabs and Muslims so that neighboring nations would then obey American orders (and Palestinians would "behave"). It didn't work out that way. Again Bush is being fed a misreading of Third World psychology, especially that of Muslims – that after a week's bombing of Iran, war will be contained, as Iran would not dare to fight back. However, this discounts all of history, in which wars, once started, often lead to very wide and unforeseen consequences. At the very least, the Iranian regime would use a U.S. attack to inflame nationalism and gain the legitimacy to stay in power by cracking down on domestic opposition. It would also make the long supply line through Shia Iraq even more vulnerable.

The legal arguments for impeachment have been well put forth by Republican constitutional scholar Bruce Fein.

Impeaching Cheney would have many, many benefits:

  1. It would curtail Bush's freedom of action, as he would fear that he too might be impeached whereas now he is protected by the threat of Cheney becoming president.
  2. It would take some of the blame off Bush's back for the war disasters. Indeed, Bush might even be relieved to be rid of Cheney, who clearly intimidates him.
  3. It would put out many of the remaining liars, neoconservatives, and other warmongers who still influence Bush if their chief protector in the administration were repudiated.
  4. It would allow at-risk Republican congressmen a way of showing their opposition to the war without voting to curtail funds for the troops in the field.
  5. It would reinforce all the moderates who urge America to work with allies and build a consensus with other nations by repudiating the "go it alone" imperialists.
  6. It would encourage foreign governments to cooperate with the administration by showing a real shift in Washington away from policies that most of the world sees as very threatening.
  7. It would show the world that most Americans do not agree with the Bush-Wolfowitz Doctrine, which would regain us at least part of the goodwill most foreigners used to feel toward America and its ideals.
  8. It would save the Republican Party from being dragged down to disaster in the 2008 elections if Republicans were able to publicly repudiate the Bush administration's chief executive officer. Just starting the impeachment proceedings in the House would have the immediate effect of preventing a reckless attack on Iran.

As conservatives, even though we oppose the welfare-warfare-earmark Republican leadership, we want Republicans to remain viable. We will never again trust them with the Constitution, but a total Democratic sweep would also be threatening. Without limited government, our freedoms can only be safe with divided government. Impeaching Cheney could at least save the Republicans 41 seats in the Senate, and it might even help them regain control, thus thwarting a total Democratic sweep.


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  • Jon Basil Utley is associate publisher of The American Conservative and Robert A. Taft Fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. A former correspondent for Knight Ridder in South America, Utley has written for the Harvard Business Review on foreign nationalism and was for 17 years a commentator on the Voice of America. He is director of Americans Against World Empire.

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