So I’ve got a question for you. After reading the passage below from Flip-flops cost America in blood, tell me which senior U.S. government official argued against invading Iraq (before the U.S. invasion) to topple Saddam Hussein by saying:
“I would guess if we had gone in there, I would still have forces in Baghdad today. We’d be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home.
“And the final point that I think needs to be made is this question of casualties. I don’t think you could have done all of that without significant additional U.S. casualties. And while everybody was tremendously impressed with the low cost of the (1991) conflict, for the 146 Americans who were killed in action and for their families, it wasn’t a cheap war.
“And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam (Hussein) worth? And the answer is not that damned many. So, I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we’d achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.”
In an accompanying Seattle PI article, Charles Pope provides further quotations from the transcript:
Going to Baghdad would require a much different approach militarily than fighting in the open desert outside the capital, a type of warfare that U.S. troops were not familiar, or comfortable fighting.
“All of a sudden you’ve got a battle you’re fighting in a major built-up city, a lot of civilians are around, significant limitations on our ability to use our most effective technologies and techniques.”
“Once we had rounded him up and gotten rid of his government, then the question is what do you put in its place? You know, you then have accepted the responsibility for governing Iraq.”
So who do you think it was? Colin Powell? Wesley Clark? Richard Holbrooke? Wrong. If you guessed Dick Cheney, you got it right.
Then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney observes a live-fire training exercise at Fort Lewis. The same day in August 1992, before a Seattle audience, Cheney supported the decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power after the first Gulf War (credit: Paul Joseph Brown/Seattle PI)
Joel Connelly in Wednesday’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer has dug up the transcript of an extraordinary Cheney appearance (he was then Secretary of Defense) at Seattle’s Discovery Institute in 1992, 18 months after the first Gulf War. An audience member asked him why the U.S. did not continue on to Baghdad to finsh off Saddam. In answering, Cheney was a good solider in articulating the rationale of the first George Bush, who refused to rid the world of Saddam.
So we have to ask, which Cheney is the real Cheney? The one who attacked the notion of destroying Saddam? Or the one who embraced the idea ardently and with fervor? But even this question isn’t as important as considering the flip-flop attacks on John Kerry that Bush-Cheney have been parroting like trained birds all along the campaign trail.
So Kerry has a flip flop problem regarding the War? What about this little Cheney flip-flop?? I guess it takes a flip-flopper to know one.
Of course, Cheney had it precisely right in his 1992 remarks. He was prescient in predicting the horrors that would befall us if we invaded Iraq. I wonder what happened in the meantime to make him take leave of his political senses?
For Cheney’s full remarks on Iraq from the transcript check out what the Carpetbagger Report has put together.