Saturday, August 25, 2007


Moral Confusion, Part II

This video has received a lot of play recently, and I'm linking to it and summarizing it here for posterity because a lot of the quotes I've read are incomplete. It's from a 1994 ABC news interview of Dick Cheney where he explains the (first) Bush administration's decision not to go on to Baghdad and remove Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War. The points Cheney makes are:
1) If we had gone to Baghdad, none of our Arab allies would have gone in with us, so it would have been a US occupation of Iraq.

2) Once you take down Saddam's government, what do you put in its place? It's a volatile part of the world, and once you remove the central government, you could start to see pieces of Iraq fly off, with the western part going to Syria, the eastern part to Iran (which fought an eight year war with Iraq over that part) and the north aligning with Kurds in Turkey, possibly threatening the territorial integrity of Turkey, our NATO ally.

3) All of the above would make an invasion and occupation of Iraq a quagmire (he actually uses the word).

4) Casualties: we suffered relatively light casualties in the operation to expel Iraq from Kuwait, but for the families of the 146 Americans who lost their lives, it wasn't a cheap war. The question was, how many more casualties were we willing to take in an operation to remove Saddam, and our judgment was: not very many; and I think we got it right.
So we're supposed to believe that the terrorist attacks by non-Iraqi al Qaeda elements on 9/11 changed this entire calculus for Cheney. For me, it solidifies what was already well-known about Cheney - that he uses sophisticated, well-informed rational-sounding arguments to support whatever he happens to believe at the time. If the needs of power necessitate a change in beliefs, the arguments change. It's as simple as that.

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