Earlier this week, a video from 1994 of Dick Cheney discussing why the first Bush administration didn’t move “into Baghdad” during the Gulf War surfaced on the internet and spread like wildfire. In the video, Cheney said disposing Saddam Hussein would have created a “quagmire” and suggested it would not be worth the loss of American life to conduct regime change:
How many additional dead Americans was Saddam worth? Our judgment was not very many, and I think we got that right.
A local CBS affiliate in San Francisco reached the Office of the Vice President for comment, but his office dodged the substantial contradictions between Cheney’s 1994 position and his position as Vice President:
“He was not Vice President at the time, it was after he was Secretary of Defense,” a spokesperson told CBS 5 San Francisco. “I don’t have any comment.”
But even after Cheney departed as Secretary of Defense, he still held strongly to his views that regime change in Iraq was not a strategically sound risk to take. He was the Vice Presidential candidate in 2000 when he reaffirmed his views that it wasn’t worth going into Iraq.
In 2000, Tim Russert asked Vice Presidential nominee Dick Cheney, “Do you regret not taking Saddam out nine years ago?” Here’s how Cheney responded:
CHENEY: I don’t, Tim. It was — and it’s been talked about since then. But the fact of the matter is, the only way you could have done that would be to go to Baghdad and occupy Iraq. If we’d done that, the U.S. would have been all alone. We would not have had the support of the coalition, especially of the Arab nations that fought alongside us in Kuwait. None of them ever set foot inside Iraq. Conversations I had with leaders in the region afterwards — they all supported the decision that was made not to go to Baghdad.
They were concerned that we not get into a position where we shifted instead of being the leader of an international coalition to roll back Iraqi aggression to one in which we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world taking down governments. So I think we got it right, so suppose it’s one of those things that’ll be debated for some time. But I thought the decision was sound at the time, and I do today. [Meet the Press, 8/27/00]
Desperate to run from his previous statements, Cheney is offering excuses that don’t stack up. Cheney must answer why he told Americans in 2003 that we would be “greeted as liberators” when he had previously expressed concern that we would be perceived as an “imperalist power” that would get stuck in a “quagmire.”