Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Dick Cheney, The Flip Flop Of A Decade

As tonight is the vice-presidential debates matching up John Edwards and Dick Cheney and the label of flip flopper continues to be thrown around, let's examine a decade old flip flop by Cheney that has great implications today.

It turns out that back in 1992 when Cheney was secretary of state (Colin Powell's job as of today) he said he didn't think it was a good idea to attack Iraq and Saddam Hussein in the last days of the Gulf War.
"And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth?" Cheney said then in response to a question.

"And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq."

"All of a sudden you've got a battle you're fighting in a major built-up city, a lot of civilians are around, significant limitations on our ability to use our most effective technologies and techniques," Cheney said.

"Once we had rounded him up and gotten rid of his government, then the question is what do you put in its place? You know, you then have accepted the responsibility for governing Iraq."

"Now what kind of government are you going to establish? Is it going to be a Kurdish government, or a Shi'ia government, or a Sunni government, or maybe a government based on the old Baathist Party, or some mixture thereof? You will have, I think by that time, lost the support of the Arab coalition that was so crucial to our operations over there," he said.

The end result, Cheney said in 1992, would be a messy, dangerous situation requiring a long-term presence by U.S. forces.

"I would guess if we had gone in there, I would still have forces in Baghdad today, we'd be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home," Cheney said, 18 months after the war ended.

It sure sounds like he knew what he was talking about back then. He expected the United States would still be in Iraq running the country at least 18 months after seizing Baghdad. I wonder why almost exactly a decade later he flip flopped on his thinking? Back then he even understood the concept of Pottery Barn war, you break it, you own it.

I could only guess that by 2002 he liked the idea of owning Iraq. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that in the middle of that decade he served as CEO of Halliburton, a company that has made alot of money doing business in Iraq. And Dick Cheney still collects money once a year from Halliburton, even though Cheney has outright lied about that fact.

Within that decade Cheney made alot of friends in the defense and energy industries, recepients of large government contracts in Iraq. By 2002 he had made many friends in the oil industry. Geez whiz, I wonder why that would have anything to do with Iraq? In some of the documents released (court ordered) from the secret Energy Task Force meetings Cheney chaired early in the Bush term, they showed a great deal of interest in Iraq as they had maps of all the oil fields and pipelines.

Dick Cheney flip flopped on attacking Iraq because he decided that this time around he did want to own it. This time around he had many friends in high places that would financially benefit from the war. This time he could keep his old company Halliburton from going bankrupt as a subsidary KBR (Kellog, Brown & Root) was nearly insolvent until awarded a contract a year in advance of the Iraq War. And this time he would get a yearly payment from his old company.
Cheney's public statements about his relationship with the company have been challenged by critics as less than full disclosure. On Meet the Press, for example, Cheney said in 2003, "I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had now for over three years."

But that assertion is undercut somewhat by the vice president's financial disclosure forms: Since early 2001, Cheney has yearly received deferred-compensation payments for his work for Halliburton in 1999. Cheney's deferred payments have ranged from a low of $147,579 in 2001 to a high of $178,437 in 2003.

Altogether he will have received five deferred-compensation payments, including one in January. Just before taking office in 2001, Cheney also received $1.5 million that was part of his 2000 compensation. He has options to purchase 400,000 shares of Halliburton stock; he has pledged to donate the proceeds from the sale of that Halliburton stock to charity.

Of course if Halliburton went bankrupt before he left political office, those options would be worthless and his yearly Halliburton paycheck would vanish. The evidence certainly points to a change of heart by Dick Cheney as to an Iraq War in the last decade. It sure looks to me that by the new millenium, Cheney wanted to break Iraq and thus own it.


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