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August 12, 2007

Dick Cheney Eloquently Explains Why Invading Iraq Would Be A Horrible Idea

How have I missed this before? I'd heard of it, but never ever seen it. Transcript below, but you really need to watch it to get the full effect.

(via unfogged)

• • •

Q: Do you think the U.S., or U.N. forces, should have moved into Baghdad?


Q: Why not?

CHENEY: Because if we'd gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn't have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq. Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off -- part of it the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of eastern Iraq the Iranians would like to claim, fought over it for eight years. In the north you've got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey. It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.

The other thing was casualties. Everyone was impressed with the fact we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had. But for the 146 Americans killed in action, and for their families, it wasn't a cheap war. And the question for the president, in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad, took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein, was how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth? Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we got it right.

Posted at August 12, 2007 12:03 AM | TrackBack

All things Dick Cheney might ever do or have done are simultaneously true and right on a quantum level. You just keep interfering with his perfect system of superpositional governance by your insistence on observing what he is doing, despite the fact that allowing Cheney to remain absolutely unobserved in all his doings is critical to maintaining his perfect state of everything-true-and-right-all-the-timeness. Stop looking in the box!

Posted by: Maud at August 12, 2007 02:38 AM

It was 1994, he and Bush 1 had taken a lot of heat for not finishing the job, Clinton was newly elected and they were heading into the Gingrich congressional takeover in November. The only thing these guys do at any given time is protect and defend their actions (as opposed to say, doing the same for the Constitution).

He was certainly aware of the aftereffects of taking Saddam out, however, so Bush's "you never know what's going to happen until you do it"-type excuse is bull.

Posted by: Glenn W at August 12, 2007 09:41 AM

Well, he ain't DEADEYE DicTRAITOR for nothin'. Call Nancy Pelosi @ 1-202-225-0100 and discuss IMPEACHMENT.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at August 12, 2007 10:34 AM

This passage got a fair amount of play in 2002-3, usually sourced to one of the books about the Gulf War. I thought it was from a magazine interview or an interview done specifically for the book, so hadn't realized it was on TV -- much less that the video is still available. has had this passage (or part of it) as one of their rotating featured quotations; when I'm back on a fast connection I'll try reloading until it comes back around to see where they source it to.

Posted by: Nell at August 12, 2007 10:50 AM

My previous comment was held up for approval probably because of having more than one embedded link, so I'll do these the awkward way.

This video apparently only got wide viewing recently. Editor and Publisher noted in an article this morning that "the on-screen source appears to be the conservative American Enterprise Institute, and the date on the screen is April 15, 2004." Being on dial-up, I have yet to watch the clip; is it C-SPAN coverage of an AEI event?
E&P link:

At any rate, Cheney gave one or another version of this argument on at least several occasions in the 1990s:

* the 1992 BBC interview referenced in my held-for-approval comment (cited by the NYT in December 2003 after Saddam Hussein's public arrest)

* statements in 1994, possibly the interview in the clip, cited in an October 1994 Time column by Michael Kramer on reasons not to invade Iraq and depose Hussein.,9171,981679,00.html

Posted by: Nell at August 12, 2007 12:00 PM

Quagmire. He acutally, honest to God, said that a US occupation of Iraq would be a Quagmire. Holy Shit.

Posted by: Nick J. at August 13, 2007 05:16 PM