EVEN by the standards of the inconspicuous role normally taken by the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney has been an unusually invisible occupant of the post. So when he told the American Enterprise Institute in Washington last week that he wanted to give a major address expectations were high - but disappointed. What Mr Cheney had to say in a 15-minute speech was that the Bush Administration was right to tackle Iraq because Saddam Hussein's ambitions had been a threat to America's safety. In support of that proposition he repeated many of the arguments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorist organisations that were made earlier this year before the invasion was launched. Criticising those who now question the correctness of the military action, Mr Cheney said: Some are now trying to cast doubt upon the decision to liberate Iraq. Those who do so have an obligation to answer this question: How could any responsible leader have ignored the Iraqi threat?
The answer, of course, is that some responsible leaders and many ordinary people doubted that the threat was either as great or as urgent as President Bush and Prime Minister Blair made it out to be. The post-war evidence thus far supports their sceptical stance rather than the rush to war preference of Britain and the United States. It is curious that Mr Cheney should have entered the debate by rehearsing information that is under continuous criticism for its unreliability and will remain so unless solid evidence of the existence of weapons of mass destruction is produced soon.