It matters less whether Dick Cheney was two feet or two miles from the blast outside the main gate of the sprawling base at Bagram, that he was the professed target or that he was not hurt in the attack, which killed and wounded several American soldiers and Afghan and Pakistani laborers.
What matters is that five and a half years after the U.S. declared war on the international global jihad and invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban is re-emergent and regaining control of parts of the country, while Al Qaeda has rebuilt its power structure and network of training camps just across the border in Pakistan.(After initially going with MSM accounts linking the blast to the Taliban, I'm now not so sure. Suicide bombings are fairly routine in Afghanistan; perhaps the Taliban merely seized on the possibly coincidental timing of this one to take credit for what will be viewed as a brash attempt to take out Cheney.)
In any event, I have long believed that Afghanistan is ungovernable, that no amount of money would buy Pakistan's full cooperation in the War on Terror, that the Taliban would not be easily vanquished and that pushing back against Al Qaeda and its terrorist brethern would be a long and extremely difficult fight.
But because of the diversion of attention, resources and personnel for George Bush's war in Iraq -- that is, the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time -- we will never know if the Taliban could have been taken down and Al Qaeda routed.The vice president's trip to Afghanistan had been shrouded in secrey, which makes the suicide bomb blast all the more problematic.
Cheney made an unscheduled overnight stay at Bagram on Monday night after his helicopter was grounded by heavy snow and he was unable to make a meeting with President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. The stopover followed a sitdown with Pakistani Prime Minister Musharraf during which the vice president scolded him for not cracking down on his intelligence services, which in some cases have openly supported the Taliban.
Musharraf waited until Cheney had departed before issuing a statement telling him to mind his own business. The statement subsequently was watered down, but Musharraf had made his point:
The U.S. needs Pakistan a whole lot more than Pakistan needs the U.S.
And that bad things happen when you have bad policies.