The problem with Cheney is not that he is talking, it is what he is saying. The argument that torture saved lives is unlikely to stand up to scrutiny. Enhanced interrogation techniques might have made people say things they would not have otherwise said and that may have saved lives but how many people were inspired to attack Americans because of these techniques, Guantanamo, etc? The net count is what is important and when liberal democratic countries use torture or enhanced interrogation techniques and excessive force to counter terrorists or insurgents (e.g., Great Britain in Northern Ireland and France in Algeria), the liberal democracies either lose or suffer years of conflict and numerous casualties as a result. Every time torture has been used, the defense has been that it saved lives. In the short run maybe.
But let’s say that Cheney’s rhetoric works and people buy the short-term argument. The bigger problem is that Cheney’s rhetoric represents a misunderstanding of the kind of fight we are in. Force or killing won’t bring us victory. That’s the wrong strategy. Cheney like a lot of others does not seem to understand this. Ralph Peters published another blood and guts and no brains article on Afghanistan and Pakistan the other day. His solution is to kill more people more quickly, which is what he hopes the new commander in Afghanistan will do. The Wall Street journal praised the appointment of the new commander too, referring to his two “successes,” killing Zarqawi and capturing Saddam. Neither of these “successes” brought us any closer to our objectives in Iraq.
Until Republicans and conservatives give up their knee-jerk emphasis on force, in so far as fighting terrorism and insurgency are concerned, it is probably better to have Democrats in charge. Their prejudice against force is probably better suited to the terrorism problem we face.