Dead-Eye Dick and the Deputy


What has Deadeye Dick Cheney been smoking since 9/11?

But, before we try to answer that question, let’s digress for a moment. Be patient. There is a point.


Kim Beazley (Senior), the Education Minister in the Whitlam Government, was once suspected of secretly supporting the Vietnam War a very big no-no at the time, particularly for Labor’s Left. He was called upon to explain himself at a meeting in Perth, which the Left dominated, 80-20.

In a spirited speech, to this very hostile audience, Kim Snr, declared in unmistakable terms that he did, indeed, oppose the Vietnam War. ‘In fact,’ he said, ‘the Americans made the second worst military decision possible, by getting involved in a land war in Asia.’

There was more like that.

The young Juvenal, then an industrial reporter in Perth, was hugely impressed by the fine style, in which Kim Snr delivered that speech. (Kim Jnr might later have called it ‘persiflage’ an odd word, meaning a smoke screen but then Kim Jnr never used a small word, where a big one would do.)

The audience mainly, leathery union officials was as entranced as I was. And, as Kim Snr. sat down, they turned to each other, asking: ‘What, then is the worst possible military decision?’

Kim Snr had anticipated that. He waited, for about 10 seconds, then stood triumphantly, and declared: ‘And the worst is to invade Russia in winter!’

It was a magic moment. An immense laugh swept through the smoky, basement room at the old Perth Trades Hall, where that meeting was held. Kim Snr at least, briefly had charmed his old enemies on the Left, with an erudite, well-told story.

Why mention that now?

After all, not even Deadeye Dick, a prime architect of the Iraq War, has ever been stupid enough to invade Russia in winter?

Thanks to Fiona Katauskas

But consider this. A leading American military strategist was once asked, given that US-led forces had clearly defeated Saddam Hussein’s army during the first Gulf War, why didn’t they march on to Baghdad and depose the tyrant?

The strategist, already a senior official in the US Administration, gave a very powerful and convincing reply:

I think for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire. Once we got to Baghdad, what would we do? Who would we put in power? Would it be a Sunni government, a Shi’a government, a Kurdish government? Would it be secular, along the lines of the Baath party? Would it be fundamentalist Islamic? I do not think the United States wants to have US military forces accept casualties, and accept the responsibilities of trying to govern Iraq. I think it makes no sense at all.

Guess who said that?

Unimaginably, it was (then Defense Secretary) Dick Cheney.

The same man who has just spent a pleasant weekend in Australia, urging his allies here to resist the World Caliphate by ‘staying the course’ in just such a war in Iraq. In his only speech in Sydney when he made that point, he was rewarded with a sitting ovation just a few people in the hand-picked audience clapping briefly. Damned, indeed, with faint praise. (Any self-respecting soprano would have stormed off the stage at such a restrained response.)

All this brings us back to our original question. What were Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and the other chicken hawks smoking, as they sat around in ornate halls, putting together grand plans in their Project for the New American Century? The most powerful drug of all, absolute power.

The USA, at the dawn of the 21st Century, was the world’s only super-power. But then 9/11 changed everything. Like James Bond’s 007 ticket, it was the chicken hawks’ licence to kill their licence to remake the oil-rich Middle East in the glittering image of the US itself.

America had defeated Saddam before, and could again. The tyrant hadn’t actually been behind the 9/11 attack. But he was, indeed, a bad man. Easily fitted up.

It all seemed so easy, just a few years ago.

Sadly, Deadeye Dick was right the first time.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.