Richard Bruce Cheney, the man who had acceded to Governor George W. Bush’s request in 2000 that he lead his search to find a perfect vice-president, and who found that this arduous and exacting effort led to none other than himself, would be there at Bush’s side, or somewhere in the murk behind him, until the bitter end. For all his experience and sophistication, that grimly blank expression—calmly unflinching gaze, slightly lopsided frown—embodied a philosophy of power unapologetically, brutally simple: attack, crush enemies; cause others to fear, submit. Power from time to time must be embodied in vivid violence, like Voltaire’s executions, pour encourager les autres.
So, any regrets? Nope.
No turning back would be a good slogan for Dick Cheney. His memoirs are remarkable—and he shares this with Rumsfeld—for an almost perfect lack of second-guessing, regret, or even the mildest reconsideration. “I thought the best way to get on with my life and my career was to do what I thought was right,” he tells Cutler. “I did what I did, it’s all on the public record, and I feel very good about it.
And so, Danner writes:
And yet we live still in Cheney’s world. All around us are the consequences of those decisions: in Fallujah, Iraq, where al-Qaeda-allied jihadis who were nowhere to be found in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq have just again seized control; in Syria, where Iraqi jihadists play a prominent part in the rebellion against the Assad regime; in Afghanistan, where the Taliban, largely ignored after 2002 in the rush to turn American attention to Saddam Hussein, are resurgent.