Another Look at Dick Cheney

James Rosen's Cheney One on One  is an important oral record of contemporary America. Many would argue that Dick Cheney was at the core of some of America’s most important recent events. Standing at the center of American power for four decades, Cheney is candid about his time in office and the presidents he served under. 

This book is an important read to learn more about the man and leader. In addition, it is a reminder of the facts that Americans might have forgotten about the events surrounding Dick Cheney’s experiences. With no topic off limits, the former vice president opened up about his complicated relationships with President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and talks candidly about why his influence in the White House waned over Bush's second term. Cheney One On One contains important and fascinating recollections of one of the most tumultuous periods in our nation's history, from one of its most powerful and controversial figures.

Rosen has a quote that summarizes the feeling of the American left who continuously attack Dick Cheney. Cheney’s “gated driveway has seen more than its share of protestors, chanting about ‘torture’ and spray-paining the asphalt… Cheney remains, in many minds, the malevolent power behind the throne -- witness President Obama’s joke about Cheney’s being the worst president of his lifetime. (Yet) to many conservatives, however, Dick Cheney was, and remains, a bona fide hero, perhaps America’s staunchest, most unapologetic defender of a muscular foreign policy abroad and fiscal restraint at home.”

He explained, “My chief aim was to rescue this man from the characterization of Darth Vader. We need to remember he is a flesh and blood human being. I found him to be a deep analytical thinker. Since mostly ‘Easterners’ write about him they do not grasp Cheney’s Western background that taught him to speak with an economy of words. The Eastern ear might see this as withholding, illusive, or menacing.”

But Cheney is anything but menacing. It becomes evident after reading this book that the former vice-president is a straight talker, giving substantial answers to very probing questions, including the controversy over the Iraq War. Readers are reminded by Cheney that in December 1998 then President Bill Clinton said, “If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction, he will deploy them and he will use them.” There was bipartisan support for the American air and missile strikes on suspected Iraqi sites.

When asked about the dichotomy between the Democrat’s support then and their attitude during the Bush-Cheney administration Rosen stated, “Cheney always rejected the idea that he and the President sat around and said ‘let’s just do Iraq.’ Under President Clinton the policy of the U.S. was to effectuate regime change in Iraq. When it became the idea of the Republican administration the Democrats effectively piled on and sounded a different tune.”

Another event that relates to today’s issues is the Israeli attack on the Syrian nuclear power plant. Cheney discusses in depth his perspective of what happened. Rosen writes how Cheney questioned on more than one occasion why a North Korean nuclear official was traveling regularly to Damascus. He became skeptical, but after seeing the photographs taken by Israeli intelligence he pushed for U.S. air strikes to destroy the Syrian reactor, the al-Kibar complex. Rosen quotes Cheney, “I was the only one who was advocating this course of action. And that’s when they (the Bush administration) opted to go to the United Nations… I was confident there was no way the Israelis were going to turn the matter over to the United Nations.”

As Michael Bar-Zohar points out in his recently released book, No Mission Is Impossible, the IAF photographed the reactor, Mossad filmed a video inside the reactor, and Israeli commandos collected radioactive soil samples from the reactor for proof. But the Bush administration refused to act, forcing Israel to go it alone and destroy the reactor. In hindsight, Cheney was correct and everyone else in the Bush administration was wrong. He told Rosen, “I thought it was badly handled, still do today… We made a mistake as an administration when we didn’t take it out.”

There are many more instances in Cheney One on One where readers learn and are reminded of historical events and the enormous impact this man made on many of those events, including being the most powerful vice-president ever. Cheney comes across as a man having qualities of being loyal, dedicated, and honest. This book is an important read to gain an understanding of where this country has been and where it is headed.  

The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.