Cheney – why we shouldn’t take Baghdad (1994)
Video Surfaces of Cheney, in 1994, Warning That An Invasion of Iraq Would Lead to ‘Quagmire’
NEW YORK It’s not the first time that citizen “investigative journalists” have uncovered some embarrassing, or telling, nugget from the past that apparently remained buried for years. But it has happened again with the posting of a now wildly popular video on YouTube that shows Dick Cheney explaining in 1994 that trying to take over Iraq would be a “bad idea” and lead to a “quagmire.”
The people who put it up come from a site called Grand Theft Country, the on-screen source appears to be the conservative American Enterprise Institute, and the date on the screen is April 15, 1994. That looks right, by the look of Cheney.
Posted on Friday, it had received over 100,000 hits by this morning, after being widely-linked around the Web. The transcript of this segment is below.
Cheney had helped direct the Gulf War for President George H.W. Bush. That effort was later criticized for not taking Baghdad and officials like Cheney had to explain why not for years. Some have charged that this led to an overpowering desire to finish the job after Cheney became vice president in 2001.
Here is the transcript.
Q: Do you think the U.S., or U.N. forces, should have moved into Baghdad?
Q: Why not?
A: 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 it — eastern Iraq — the Iranians would like to claim, they 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.