Beyond the numerous and well-documented falsehoods that Vice President Cheney told in the lead-up to the Iraq war, there is another important reason why Cheney’s recent attacks on the opposition are incredibly disingenuous. Cheney was intimately knowledgeable about the danger to national and international security that would result from an occupation of Iraq, but he callously disregarded those concerns in the lead-up to the war. In 1992, he documented that rationale clearly:
In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1992, Cheney said: “If we’d gone to Baghdad and got rid of Saddam Hussein — assuming we could have found him — we’d have had to put a lot of forces in and run him to ground someplace…Then you’ve got to put a new government in his place, and then you’re faced with the question of what kind of government are you going to establish in Iraq? Is it going to be a Kurdish government, or a Shia government or a Sunni government?” Mr. Cheney continued. “How many forces are you going to have to leave there to keep it propped up, how many casualties are you going to take through the course of this operation?” [New York Times, 12/16/03]
Indeed, each of the questions that Cheney posited have yet to be answered after two and a half years of occupation. 2,079 U.S. soldiers have lost their lives, over 15,500 American soldiers have been wounded, $250 billion U.S. taxpayer dollars have been spent, incalculable costs have been dealt to the state of the armed forces and the U.S.’s credibility in the world. Yet Cheney thinks it is irresponsible to criticize him.
Cheney told Russert on Meet the Press in March 2003 that, “from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” But in a speech to the World Petroleum Congress in 2000, Cheney reasoned that when the U.S. goes it alone to try to force political change, “it almost never works.” [Calgary Sun, 6/15/00]
Cheney is quick to chastise those who disagree with his Iraq strategy. But the original critique of Cheney’s strategy came from Cheney himself.