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Friday, August 17, 2007

From Quagmire to Cakewalk

An unlikely new star has emerged on YouTube. Dick Cheney's newly-uncovered video interview from 1994 has gotten over 600,000 views and has got everyone talking.

In this particular video, Cheney (who had been the Secretary of Defense during the Gulf War) is asked whether he thought that U.S. forces should have moved into Baghdad after Hussein's army had been defeated in 1991. His response was that we shouldn't have because "There wouldn't have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq." His concern was that once the US toppled Hussein's regime, "then what are you going to put in its place?...It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq." He demonstrated his concern for the troops by asking, "how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth? Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we got it right."

Smart man, that Cheney fellow. So why was it that in 2002 and 2003 this very same man (and his minions) was telling the nation that an invasion of Iraq would be a "cakewalk" and that we would "be greeted as liberators." Neocons were quick to assure us that we needn't worry. The oil revenues would pay for the war, and we should be out of there in practically no time at all.

Of course, over the years, lots of people have questioned why Bush Sr. and his administration had not gone into Baghdad in 1991 to "finish the job." Bush, Cheney, Powell...they all had what I thought were pretty reasonable reasons for not doing exactly that.

So what was it that made Cheney flip-flop and decide that those reasons were no longer valid in 2003? Of course, the answer that he and his people always give is "9/11 changed everything." Well, maybe. It might have changed certain people's thinking about whether or not Iraq should be attacked. But how exactly did 9/11 change those predicted consequences that Cheney spoke of so eloquently in 1994? The answer is it didn't. Cheney was exactly right about the consequences he had predicted.

He was also a bit of a fortune-teller in 1991 when speaking at the Soref Symposium shortly after the war had ended. He told his audience, "If you are going to go to war, let's send the whole group; let's make certain that we've got a force of sufficient size, as we did when we went into Kuwait, so that we do not suffer any more casualties than are absolutely necessary."

So when the average American looks at Cheney's turnabout, what is he to conclude except that Cheney and the rest were so determined to invade Iraq that they deliberately deceived people about the consequences, and were in such a hurry that they didn't even make adequate plans for those very things they had predicted.

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