Politico reporters transcribe, you decide:
Cheney was asked if he thinks the Bush administration bears any responsibility for the disintegration of Afghanistan because of the attention and resources that were diverted to Iraq. “I basically don’t,” he replied without elaborating.
Right, and why follow that one up? It’s not like a high-profile Senate report demonstrated over the weekend that the Bush administration allowed Osama bin Laden to escape the battle of Tora Bora in December 2001, a crucial mistake that allowed al-Qaeda to regroup in Pakistan. It’s not like the Bush administration in 2002 refused to allow U.S. troops to perform peacekeeping operations that would have preserved the initial post-Taliban order, even as President George W. Bush issued an ultimately hollow promise for a new Marshall Plan in Afghanistan. It’s not as if later that year the Bush administration had its regional military commander focus intensely on an entirely elective second war fought for ultimately incorrect premises. It’s not as if security and governance deteriorated in Afghanistan for years while the Bush administration declined to increase troop levels or even focus on the Pakistani safe havens for al-Qaeda that the 2001 Tora Bora failure yielded, even as ground commanders publicly stated the war could not be won without dealing with them. And it’s certainly not like the Bush administration passed an unfinished war off to its successor in year eight amid record levels of insurgent violence.
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