Dick Cheney ’94: Invading Baghdad Would Create Quagmire

Cheney was head of Halliburton in Dallas from 1995 until July, 2000, when he resigned in preparation for running for vice president. During that time, Halliburton subsidiaries allegedly did business with Iraq. This article gives Cheney’s position in 1996:

‘ Halliburton was headed for a financial crisis in the mid-1990s. Cheney said sanctions against countries like Iraq were hurting corporations such as Halliburton. “We seem to be sanction-happy as a government,” Cheney said at an energy conference in April 1996, reported in the oil industry publication Petroleum Finance Week. “The problem is that the good Lord didn’t see fit to always put oil and gas resources where there are democratic governments,” he observed during his conference presentation . . . . . . Sanctions make U.S. businesses “the bystander who gets hit when a train wreck occurs,” Cheney told Petroleum Finance Week. “While virtually every other country sees the need for sanctions against Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s regime there, Cheney sees general agreement that the measures have not been very effective despite their having most of the international community’s support. An individual country’s embargo, such as that of the United States against Iran, has virtually no effect since the target country simply signs a contract with a non-U.S. business,” the publication reported.’

In September, 2000, Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld’s deputy), George W Bush’s younger brother Jeb, Lewis Libby (Cheney’s chief of staff) and Fred Kagan [recently author of the ‘surge’ idea] drew up a position paper for Cheney entitled Rebuilding America’s Defences. The document said,

‘ In the Persian Gulf region, the presence of American forces, along with British and French units, has become a semipermanent fact of life. Though the immediate mission of those forces is to enforce the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq, they represent the long-term commitment of the United States and its major allies to a region of vital importance. Indeed, the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.’

The document found willing ears. Cheney’s years in Dallas hanging around with Big Oil CEO’s appear to have made him question his earlier conviction that it was best to leave Saddam Hussein in power.