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Hating on Richard Cheney

Let us give the mike to Brink Lindsey:

Cato-at-liberty » Invasion of the Cheney Snatchers: This eerie video clip of a 1994 interview with Dick Cheney... [he] defends the Bush 41 administration’s decision not to proceed to Baghdad after expelling the Iraqi army from Kuwait. His description of the downsides of occupation now sounds downright prophetic.

Seeing this clip reminded me of a personal experience along similar lines. Back in 1998, when I was running Cato’s then-new Center for Trade Policy Studies, we held a conference on unilateral economic sanctions called “Collateral Damage: The Economic Cost of U.S. Foreign Policy.” And our luncheon speaker at that event was none other than Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney.

Looking back at the transcript of his talk, you can see that it’s not just Cheney’s views of the wisdom of occupying Iraq that have undergone an amazing transformation. So has his attitude about engaging versus confronting Iran:

[O]ur sanctions policy oftentimes generates unanticipated consequences. It puts us in a position where a part of our government is pursuing objectives that are at odds with other objectives that the United States has.... An example that comes immediately to mind has to do with efforts to develop the resources of the... Caspian Sea area... rich in oil and gas. Unfortunately, Iran is sitting right in the middle of the area and the United States has declared unilateral economic sanctions against that country.... American firms are prohibited from dealing with Iran and find themselves cut out of the action.... Iran is not punished... development will proceed, but it will happen without American participation. The most striking result of the government’s use of unilateral sanctions in the region is that only American companies are prohibited from operating there.

Another good example of how our sanctions policy oftentimes gets in the way of our other interests occurred in the fall of 1997 when Saddam Hussein was resisting U.N. weapons inspections.... Administration officials in the area were trying to get Arab members of the coalition... to allow U.S. military forces to be based on their territory... in the event it was necessary to take military action against Iraq.... Our friends in the region cited a number of reasons for not complying... concerned with the fragile nature of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians... had fundamental concerns about our policy toward Iran... [our] anti-Iranian policy... raised questions in their mind about the wisdom of U.S. leadership....

So, what effect does this have... all of the Arab countries... with the single exception of Kuwait, rejected our request to base forces... most of them boycotted the economic conference... in connection with the peace process that was hosted in Qatar.... Then... they all went to Tehran and attended the Islamic summit.... The nation that’s isolated in terms of our sanctions policy in that part of the globe is not Iran. It is the United States...

Note again that Cheney gave these remarks in 1998 — when Iran’s nuclear ambitions were already well known, and two years after the Khobar Towers bombing in which Iran was believed to be complicit.

9/11 may not have changed everything, but it sure changed Dick Cheney.

Impeach them all. Now.