What was Cheney saying in 2000?
At a celebration dinner after the 2000 presidential campaign, he privately told a group of friends that the new White House team may have a rare historic opportunity to right a wrong committed during a previous term — the mistake of leaving Saddam Hussein in place atop the Iraqi government. (Wall Street Journal)
“Liberate Iraq” by Reuel Gerecht, PNAC‘s Director of the Middle East Initiative
Published on 5/14/2001 in The Weekly Standard.
This article not only argued strenuously for war, it scoped out a general strategy which was reflected in war plans after 9/11 and implemented in 2003. It includes
- The explanation of using the shock-and-awe campaign to start the war — “America’s hayba — its ability to inspire awe, the critical factor in the Middle East’s ruthless power politics — had vanished. And once hayba is lost, only a demonstration of indomitable force restores it.”
- Failed in the long run.
- The estimate of a small invasion force “At minimum, two divisions — roughly 50,000 troops — would probably be needed in the beginning. Given the U.S. military’s doctrine of overwhelming force, the Army would likely press for far more.”
- They they did, and Rumsfeld to Gerecht’s small-force position, one of his biggest mistakes.
- Count on mass defections: “Thousands of Iraqi soldiers would likely answer the opposition’s call to change sides and fight.”
- Rumsfeld was far to optimistic about how we would be greeted.
- Complete De-Baathification and Disbanding of Military “Once freed of Saddam, Iraq will need an institution, untouched by the Ba’ath.
- This was later judged to be another huge blunder.
- Promotion of Chalabi: “Chalabi may be ideal for the task … He is rich, upper class, well educated, highly Westernized, an expatriate, and, last but not least, a Shi’ite Arab. … Chalabi also established his own intelligence service, which dwarfed the reach and understanding of the CIA’s clandestine service.”
- Chalabi‘s intelligence on WMDs was completely fabricated according to WMD Report to the President. A Poll of Iraqis found he ranked 12th with 0.6% picking him, while 45% “did not trust him at all.” In early 2004 he was found giving extremely sensitive information to the Iranians, and the White House had the Pentagon cut off his funding.
Remember, all of this was planned before 9/11. As it turned out, PNAC’s proposals were implemented with disastrous consequences.
How Cheney Orchestrated the Iraq War
Cheney Brought in the Neocons. He opposed Powell’s pick for Defense Sec. and proposed Rumsfeld (C.S. Monitor). Cheney and Rumsfeld go back 36 years. Cheney brought Wolfowitz into the Bush campaign and fought for him as Undersecretary of Defense.
Cheney brought in Libbyas his Chief of Staff. Libby served under Cheney and Wolfowitz in the Gulf War when they developed their critique of leaving Saddam in power and he signed the PNAC principles with Cheney in 1997.
Cheney held enormous influence over Bush II. As one prominent Senator describes it, “Like with a horse, Powell is always able to lead Bush to the water. But just as he is about to put his head down, Cheney up in the saddle says, ‘Un-uh,’ and yanks up the reins before Bush can drink the water.”
Cheney was motivated to get Saddam. In public Cheney maintained the Bush I position on Iraq, which was also Bush II’s position, up until 9/11—that leaving Saddam in place had been right. Consequently, his aggressive push for war after 9/11 seemed like a reaction to that event. But Woodward tells us, “Cheney had been secretary of defense during George H.W. Bush’s presidency, which included the Gulf War, and he harbored a deep sense of unfinished business about Iraq.”
This view most strongly shared with Wolfowitz and Libby who served under him in that war, and by the neocons in generally, who criticized Bush I viciously for this “failure.” Cheney’s suspicions of Iraq continued to grow during the Clinton years. He joined the American Enterprise Institute, a neocon thinktank. “It was an article of faith in the AEI crowd that the United States had missed a chance to knock off Saddam in 1991; that Saddam was rebuilding his stockpile of WMD, and that sooner or later the Iraqi strongman would have to go.”
Cheney is a “powerful, steamrolling force obsessed with Saddam and taking him out … Colin Powell, the secretary of state, saw this in Cheney to such an extent, he, Powell, told colleagues that ‘Cheney has a fever. It is an absolute fever. It’s almost as if nothing else exists,’ says Woodward, who adds that Cheney had plenty of opportunities to convince the president.” To go into Iraq, Cheney only needed the opportunity and he soon got one: September 11, 2001.
Middle East “War:” How Did It Come to This?
by David Wurmser, Published in the Washington Times, by the American Enterprise Institute, Jan. 1, 2001, and on Our Jerusalem-dot-com, Jan. 29, 2001.
“Israel and the United States should adopt a coordinated strategy to regain the initiative and reverse their regionwide strategic retreat. They should broaden the conflict to strike fatally, not merely disarm, the centers of radicalism in the region—the regimes of Damascus, Baghdad, Tripoli, Tehran, and Gaza. That would reestablish the recognition that fighting with either the United States or Israel is suicidal.”
Wurmser was moved into the State Dept., then became Cheney’s Middle-East Advisor.