What a difference a decade makes...Cheney's assessment of invading Iraq

Here is a clip of Cheney in 1994 explaining why we did the right thing in not invading Iraq. It pretty much echoes what George Bush Sr. said at the time.


I think his comments in the clip are right on the mark and I’m hard pressed to understand what changed his beliefs so radically, unless it was that cushy position at Haliburton.

I saw this over on Andrew Sullivan yesterday. Boy, the guy looked old then, he looks gruesome now. What’s with the Mr Burns-like clutching of hands?

He certainly seemed like a smart cookie. Shame he did not (apparently) believe what he was saying.

YouTube sure makes it harder to hide from your past.

Cheney’s got a history of saying something on tape, then later reversing himself and simply denying that he said what he said. That’s sort of been a pattern for the whole administration.

Not to take away the OP’s glory for posting this, but what is the debate-- why did we *really *invade Iraq? Good luck with that one!

It serves to demonstrate that he will say whatever serves his purpose, even the truth occasionally.

There is no debate, really. Cheney and Bush (and Rumsfeld, Rice,Wolfowitz and Powell etc.) deliberately and disengenously involved us in a war in Iraq that they themselves actually knew (or should’ve known) was a very bad idea. The cited youtube clip is just one more rock added to a mountain of evidence that the emperors have no clothes.

Well, 9/11 changed everything. Or so they say…

This seems like a clear debate point to me:

OK, but why didn’t they take us all the way to Baghdad in 1991, and then decide to do just that in 2003? What happened to change their minds? That’s an interesting topic for debate.

Because they weren’t running the show – Bush, senior was. And he made it pretty clear before the current debacle that he thought it was a Really Bad Idea. His son famously said that he answered to a higher father. See where that got us.
Bush I said at the time that it wasn’t in the charter they’d been given to plow on to Baghdad and overthrow the government, although I always saw that as mere excuse for not doing something that itwas clear to Bush (and to me at the time) would become a major headache and liability.

I’ve found my preferred presidential candidate for 2008. It’s Dick Cheney, circa 1994.

You’re assuming he believed what he was saying at the time, and I don’t think he did. He was following the party line.

Don’cha remember, we didn’t go all the way to Baghdad because it wasn’t in the UN Resolution authorizing war with Iraq to take back Kuwait. Why we agreed to be bound by such is George First’s fault. What changed between '91 and ''03 was the (now known to be non-existent) WMDs, supposedly. Mushroom clouds were going to be forming over Dubuque and Cincinnati unless we deposed Saddam immediately. The cease fire terms (No fly zones, etc), suddenly weren’t good enough anymore.

Why did George the First agree to cease fire terms whereby Saddam stayed in power, which seems to me (and seemed to me at the time) to be an idiotic thing to do? That’s a good question too.

Perhaps because, unlike his son, he was not arrogant enough to defy the international community; or perhaps because, unlike his son, he foresaw that deposing Hussein would lead to a total clusterfuck.

I don’t think that’s on point. GHWB (along with Secretary Baker and crew) convinced and cajoled the international community pretty well. They could’ve and should’ve used their know how to get the allies to sign off on a cease fire that included getting rid of Saddam Hussein. They’d gone into the Gulf War saying that Hussein was as bad as Hitler and yet inexplicably they allowed the psuedo-Hitler to remain in power after the war.


As opposed to foreseeing what leaving Saddam, a man GHWB likened to Hitler, in power would do. They couldn’t reasonably have expected that Saddam would take up knitting or something.

Even noted foreign policy expert Barney Fife knew that you’ve got to “Nip things in the bud.” GHWB allowed the bud (Hussein) to stay in place.

See my post abiove yours. Bush I didn’t think it was a good idea at the time, or when his son later wanted to do it. I’m convinced that he saw the nightmare that would happen when he tried to place another government in place of Hussein, and all the problems that would result, and figured it was easier and safer to leave Hussein in place, possibly to be toppled by someone else later. (In fac, we bobbled that feature of it, giving what seemed to be the implication that we’d support a coup, then not actually following through.) The UN resolution simply gave him a convenient rationale for not following through on the capture of Baghdad. This all seemed pretty clear to me at the time, and I approved. Not that this means anything.

I don’t know how they could have done that. The allies would have known that an occupation would be involved. The other Middle Eastern countries wanted Iraq defanged and the rest of those allies probably just wanted the threat to their oil supply removed. I can’t imagine anybody wanted to deal with an occupation or Iraqi refugees.

You make it sound like they believed that was true.

The latter, I think. Bush the Elder did some pretty disreputable things (like encouraging the Kurd and Shi’a populations to rebel against Hussian and then abandoning them, and letting post-war Iraq descend into a humanitarian crisis) but from a startegic persepctive he was pretty damn smart; all of the problems crippled Hussain’s government from recovering or building up militarily, and the US essentially had a blank check to intervene should Iraq even give the appearance of building up or becoming aggressive. I think he viewed it from the perspective of failures in post-war Europe; the idea was to allow Iraq to remain strong enough to keep Iran or Syria from moving in and taking over, but weak enough that it posed no real threat to Israel or Saudi Arabia, harkening back to the Eisenhower Doctrine. And, with the abovementioned caveats, it worked; Hussain wasn’t a serious threat to anyone except his own population until the 2003 invasion.

I think Bush the Younger regards himself as a modern day Crusader, bringing democracy (or at least what passes for democracy in his mind), security, and God-fearing liberty to Iraq and expanding from there to the Middle East. Of course, he did it without consideration to world opinion, and in fact, in a way that, in retrospect, seems almost calculated to give the finger to nations that, at least nominally, would have at least tacitly supported us after the September 11, 2001 attacks. It was short-sighted and, from any rational persepective, about the dumbest thing one could possibly do. As a warning to Iran or Syria it was misplaced; as an attempt to secure a strategic stronghold in the Middle East it affected only alienation of our nominal allies there; as liberation and relief from repression is was bumbling and countereffective; and on the larger scale it essentially pitted the United States against everyone else in a manner reminiscent of our foray into former French Indochina, and those of us who didn’t barely scrape our way through Yale on an alumni pass recall how badly that worked out for the United States.

I guess Cheney et al figured they were smart enough to beat history this time around…or maybe they realized that they could use Bush to attain their own ends and didn’t care about the long-term damage. Certainly Halliburton’s profit margins and stock price haven’t suffered. To a certain extend, when you get to the point that you’re contributing to major decisions of the world’s largest military power you probably believe your own press about the responsiblity to democracy and so forth, and start adopting a consequentialist attitude. From that perspective, killing off a few tens of thousands of people is worth liberating the Middle East from backward, corrupt, autocratic governments. Maybe that would even be a valid justification, if it worked.

Sadly, it doesn’t, or at least not very often.


Well, I’m glad that some were able to find the debate that others suggested didn’t exist. I posted this here because it was political, which always leads to debate, but not vitriolic enough for the pit.

I suppose the most convincing argument presented thus far, IMO at least, is that Cheney wasn’t being honest when he made the original statement. Still, there was a lot of truth in those lies. Had he actually believed what he was saying at the time, we might not be in the mess we are in.

Then again, Cheney actually had a boss that was intelligent and experienced at the time. He had to be much more careful with his words. Now, he no longer faces that obstacle.

Yup, sure did. But 9/11 has nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq.