Last night John Stewart played this interview with Cheney from way back in 1994, talking about the reasons that the first Bush administration decided not to invade and occupy Baghdad. I know this has been making the rounds on the internet since the run-up to the war, but it still amazes me to read it - most of what he predicted came true or is in the process of coming true. The really ironic part is that the kind of destabilization caused by toppling Saddam is the reason that the U.S. government has supported and maintained so many hideous dictators in the past - stability was always preferred to democracy. Anyway, here it is straight from the horse's mouth:
"[...]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."