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Dick Cheney in 1994: Invading Baghdad Would Create Quagmire

In this interview from April 15th, 1994, Dick Cheney reveals the reasons why invading Baghdad and toppling Saddam Hussein wouldn't be a great idea: YouTube

Endnote: Shiite alliance against the Saudi-US alliance? Look who is holding hands these days: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran August 8, 2007 in this Yahoo! News Photo. And this White House photo shows President Bush holding hands with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah in 2005. And recently the Bush administration announced a major arms deal with Saudi Arabia.


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David on :

Money quote: "How many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth? ...not very many." This is Cheney in his "last throes" of rationality. Presumably he also thought torture was a bad idea.

Pat Patterson on :

In 1938 PM Chamberlain thought that PM Adolf Hitler was a man that could be dealt with via other means then war. The Duke of Wellington, writing in The Times, predicted that the US would lose Texas and most of the Louisiana area because the Mexican Army was far superior and more cohesive then the multi-lingual, multi-cultural volunteers of America. What leader hasn't made predictions either that the events succeeding that prediction changed or that simply were wrong? I'm sure that Pres. Clinton would love to reverse his decision to not take Bin Laden from the Sudanese as well as the Russians for turning Zahawiri loose after his capture in Chechnya or the Egyptians for releasing Zahawiri after Sadat's assassination. Hindsight is wonderful if its used to solve current problems rather than wallow in a pool of ..."what if's?"

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

"Hindsight is wonderful..." That's not the point. The point is that all of Cheney's predictions from 1994 turned out true in 2007. All the reasons Cheney mentioned in 1994 should have cautioned him in 2002. [b]Given what Cheney has said in 1994, I am wondering why he did not plan the Iraq war in 2002 more prudently and cautiously, together with Rumsfeld???? [/b] I mean, he clearly knew what could go wrong... Here is a different take on this interview. The interview could be used as an argument for the supporters of the Iraq war: The fact that Cheney was asked these questions in 1994 indicates some sort of pressure or criticism for not invading Bagdad. Likewise, Bush senior and Powell were asked the same question many times. So..., it seems many US journalists were not happy with just kicking Iraq out of Kuwait. And Sec Albright was criticized heavily for saying that the Iraqi kids, who died becasue of Saddam and the sanctions, are a price worth paying for containing Iraq.

Zyme on :

Now that we know what he knew, one thing is sure: He must have expected benefits that outweight these consequences (for him). Can he be considered a lobbyist for certain industries?

shane on :

This 'Clinton didn't take Bin Laden' myth has been exposed again and again. It isn't true and you likely know it. If you have to lie to make your point then you know your argument is weak.

pen Name on :

This is laugable - it is always 1938 in the US-EU discourse on international relations. Or for those who are a bit more educated: it is ides of March. Here is a different take: US is like Spain under Philippe II, Iran is like Elizabethean England, and the US Navy in the Persian Gulf is like the Armada in the English Channel.

Pat Patterson on :

The phrase the Ides of March until 200 years after Shakespeare's Julius Caesar simply meant the 15th of March, no more, no less. Plus who are the witches now warning? Iran lacks a fleet, a Queen Elisabeth, a Captain Drake or a Lord Essex, other wise its exactly like Elizabethan England. But in one way Iran is like England in that both persecuted religious minorities and rule by the imprimatur of God. Philip II managed to destroy any further Muslim pretensions in the Mediterranean by destroying the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto in 1571. And since even the wildest theories do not claim that the two US carrier groups in the Gulf are there to forcibly convert the Muslims of Iran into Methodists then that comparison is also as fatuous as the others. Joerg-VP Cheney's interview was, in reference to the 1st Gulf War, the one where the UN mandate, and US resolution, called only for the removal of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait not his removal. Possibly a big mistake but then with no actual plans for a move toward Baghdad nor any possibility of allies the idea at the time did seem riskier than warranted. Many people in and out of the military simply couldn't believe how badly the Iraqi army fought and were hesitant thinking that perhaps the serious fighting hadn't commenced. And like I said earlier, we are all allowed to change our minds when the facts change. Plus the interview was on C-Span by Brian Lamb who is noted for asking questions that covered a broad area of discourse and not generally in tune with what popular journalism is immediately concerned with.

Pat Patterson on :

Sorry, that was not Brian Lamb asking the questions but one of the other C-Span hosts, not a journalist. From what I can tell, the transcript and the video are not accesible via the C-Span archives, is that interview was around an hour long and covered many other topics. This was during the period when Cheney was a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and was actually considering running for president in 1996.

pen Name on :

My point, my dear Sir, was the paucity of your historical imagination

Pat Patterson on :

By citing a string of non sequiters? Ok, then I'll bite. What were the citations precedent? Unless there is an Iranian Shakespeare right know creating couplets, sonnets and plays that will eventually be read throughout the world. Now that would be something.

No W NOW on :

Pat, in an effort to take the discourse away from the historical arguments, I ask you what exactly changed from the situation in 1994 and the situation in 2002? He opens up saying it would be a bad idea to go it alone, which we essentially did in 2002, only to get more lonely by 2007. He follows this to say that the country would fly apart if we removed Saddam's central government. This is exactly what the latest Pentagon predictions are for the most likely eventual outcome of this, to use Cheney's own words, "quagmire". That is the point of this video, not your "hindsight is 20-20" BS. That only applies to situations where the first prediction later turned out to be WRONG. If you knew in '94 that putting your hand the stove would burn you, then what is the excuse for intentionally putting your hand on the stove 8 years later?

Pat patterson on :

I'll mainly repeat what I stated the first time. There was no UN mandate for driving futher into Iraq and deposing Saddam. Nor was there any US resolution allowing for that action. Most US military leaders were stunned at how badly the Iraqi army fought or in the case of its air force not at all. They were hesitant on pursuing the retreating Republican Guards for fear of CW attacks and a defense in depth which were not prepared for except in the most cursory manner. As to the current hostilities between the Sunnis and Shiites I think that changing the regime would have been better earlier owing to the feeling among Shiites today that the US left them at the mercy of Saddam and the Sunnis. Instead of having one area loyal to the US, Kurdistan, the same US actions in the south would have at least created a rum Shiite state that owed its existence and continued protection to the US> Plus VP Cheney was profoundly moved by the events of 9/11 and has argued that the risk now was worth the effort. The US came to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that the old way of dealing with Saddam hadn't worked and with sanctions weakening felt it was better to act now then later. But by 2003 knowledge about the capabilities of the Iraqi army were better documented and the JCS conveyed to the Pres. and VP that they could be in Baghdad in less than 30 days with less than 60% of the troops from '91. And this time not having to let the Kuwaiti Army into Kuwait City first or keeping the Syrians and the Jordanians happy but not in harms way or dealing with multiple radio frequencies, different ammunition and tactical trainig. Though even then the executive and the military were surprised at how quickly the tactical and strategic situation went against the Iraqis. The famed Thunder Runs to the airport were not products of desperation but rather calculated confidence that the junior officers assessement of the situation was correct. Which was actually one of the lessons of '91 in training and trusting the junior officers to better make in the field decisions. Who in the military has argued for partition? Many pundits have, O'Hanlon and Pollack and some have said this partition would be wise and others claim it might be inevitable but not desirable, William Kristol, Robert Kagan and David Brooks. Plus I have absolutely no problem with saying not finishing off Saddam in '91 even without a UN mandate or the loss of many ineffectual allies was the mistake. So I could argue that VP Cheney might also have argued the same.

Anonymous on :

"I'm sure that Pres. Clinton would love to reverse his decision to not take Bin Laden from the Sudanese " Somebody has a kool-aid moustache. Better bone up on reality, buckoo.

Pat Patterson on :

I guess I'll just have to remain with the other fabulists at the LA Times, the Washington Post, Vanity Fair and the 9/11 Commission Report(2.4) that all made the charge that the Clinton Administration was approached by aides of al Bashir and private intermediaries offering to turn bin Laden over, much like they did to Carlos the Jackal, to the US in exchange for ending Sudan's diplomatic isolation and US help in dropping various anti-Sudan UN resolutions. Even the sometimes reliable Wikipedia repeats the story of the contact and to be fair the much later denials by members of the Clinton Adminstration after all the bad publicity of the 9/11 Report. As if there wasn't enough blame to go around. Tim Carney, the US Ambassador to Sudan in '96, said, "It was an offer US officials did not take seriously."

Pat Patterson on :

I need to apologize because I made an error in the chronology. The rebuttals offered by the Clinton supporters came mainly in the month before, June, the 9/11 Commission Report was released in July. But they have been remarkably quiet since the report said it was likely that just such an offer had been made. Shane, who I think mistakenly responded to Zyme and not me, provided a link to a opinion website, Newshounds, which clearly shows that Lanny Davis and Pres. Clinton issued their denials before the report was released while Sec. Albright's rebuttal is not dated. It also should be noted that Newshounds uses the Staff Statement (#5) which is not in the main body of the Summary or the Report itself but rather as a footnoted dissent from the consensu conclusions of the Commission.

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