In My Life

A personal and political memoir

Book by Dick Cheney (with Liz Cheney)

Review and Article by GlobalMacroForex

Dick Cheney is a controversial political figure, and readers may have mixed personal feelings about reading a book authored by and about him.  Regardless of your individual political beliefs about both Iraq wars, this book does an excellent job of conveying what the official non-conspiracy, neo-conservative view of the events is, as well as of teaching the reader the exact diplomacy and relationship the United States had with various countries in the Middle East.  This summary article will be focusing in on:

·      Desert Shield

·      Desert Storm

·      Weapons of Mass Destruction

·      Second Iraq War

Let’s dig in…

Desert Shield

On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait over disagreements regarding oil drilling.  Saddam claimed Kuwait was going underground and side-drilling his oil.  Dick Cheney speculates the real reason was Kuwait was overproducing and driving down the price of oil.

The Middle East is divided into two competing factions of Islam: Sunnis and Shiites.  Saddam Hussein was a Sunni, and so were most of the US allies in the region (Egypt and Saudi Arabia).  Iran is Shiite and wasn’t involved in this dispute.

Dick Cheney reached out to allies in Egypt and Saudi Arabia to get the green light from the Sunni Arab Coalition to retaliate for Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.  The US ally in Egypt was Sunni president Hosni Mubarak, and the ally in Saudi Arabia was King Fahd and the entire Sunni House of Saad regime.  Cheney received the clearance from King Fahd to station US troops on Saudi soil, warning Fagd that if he did not allow this and act quickly then Saudi Arabia would suffer the same fate as Kuwait.

Saudi King Fahd allowed for US troops to be stationed along the Saudi-Iraq border and to prepare for a push.   Paul Wolfowitz suggested a strategy of attacking from the North West to surprise Saddam.  Although this book does not mention this, Osama-bin-Laden’s biggest grievance against the United States was this occupation of Saudi Arabia.

Desert Storm

Desert Shield was the buildup of US troops in preparation for a move into Kuwait, as well as for securing the Saudi-Iraqi border from an invasion by Saddam Hussein further south.  Desert Storm was the actual move into Kuwait. 

In response to the US push forward, Saddam Hussein launched Scud missiles into Israel.  His goal was to purposefully involve Israel in the conflict; this way it would turn it into Israel and America vs Sunni Arabs.  Since Saddam was a Sunni and US allies (Saudi Arabia and Egypt) were also Sunni, if Saddam could get Israel in the fight, it’s possible America’s Sunni allies would turn on America or stop providing land for the US to station its troops upon.  Dick Cheney went to great lengths to convince Israeli forces to not engage.  Cheney mobilized US resources to take out the Scud missiles as quickly as possible.


Dick Cheney notes how this was the first war the American public got to see with live 24/7 news coverage, so his whole team felt the increased scrutiny.  However, this entire operation went by very quickly; within 1 month it was essentially completed as the US decimated Saddam’s forces.

After Kuwait was rescued, Bush and Cheney did not at this time feel Saddam Hussein should be removed from Iraq.  They instead tried to get the local Shiite Iraqis to rebel.  (Remember Saddam is Sunni.)  These Shiite rebellions failed, and the rebels were tortured and killed.  Dick Cheney felt remorse for those who stood up, but he could not help them.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

After 9/11, Dick Cheney claimed Saddam Hussein was harboring Al Qaeda, although in his book he presents no direct proof of the link.  However, significant attention is given to weapons of mass destruction in a general sense.  CIA Director George Tenet told Cheney that there was evidence Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, but after the second Iraq war was done, Cheney made reference to a CIA “amateur hour,” implying Cheney had been misled by false data from inexperienced CIA staff.  Again, although he was misled on the issue of the actual weapons, this book makes no reference to the original Al Qaeda harboring claim.

One of the reasons Dick Cheney presented as to why the CIA thought that Saddam was at least trying to make the weapons of mass destruction was that Saddam was “seeking a significant amount of uranium in Africa.”  Various left-leaning media outlets researched these claims further and found some contradictions and exaggerations in the story.  Dick Cheney addresses these claims in his book. While he acknowledges that the information was perhaps misinterpreted, he says that this judgment is with the benefit of hindsight now.  Cheney says in reference to when Iraqi Officials visited Niger in 1999:

“He had told CIA debriefers about a conversation he’d had with a former prime minister of Niger, who said that in 1999 he had met with an Iraqi delegation to discuss ‘expanding commercial relations’ between Iraq and Niger.  Since Niger’s chief export is uranium ore, the prime minister assumed the Iraqis wanted to buy yellowcake.”

Second Iraq War

After the first Iraq War, America encouraged Shiite rebels to rise up against Saddam Hussein.  This operation failed, and many of those people were tortured and killed.  After the second Iraq War, America reached out to those same Shiite groups and then put them in power.  America armed Shiite militia groups and set up a legitimate Shiite democracy.  Saddam Hussein was Sunni, so Cheney felt this not only kept pro-Saddam people out of power but legitimatized the earlier calls to action from the first Iraq war.

Most of the rebels were Sunni, although not necessarily supportive of Saddam Hussein.  Dick Cheney says the primary reason we were occupying Iraq was to prevent Sunni-Shiite violence.  (This is in sharp contrast to my article on the Wikileaks Files, which describes how according to leaked cables from the US ambassador to Syria suggest America purposefully provoked Sunni-Shiite violence.)  In addition, America was occupying Iraq to support the newly formed Shiite government.

Conclusion

While readers may disagree with the content of Dick Cheney’s decisions, this book is written in an easily digestible style, reads like an action novel thriller during the war parts, and teaches the reader a large breadth of information.  In this article, we focused first on the first Iraq war (also called the Gulf war) over Kuwait, which involved Desert Shield and Desert Storm.  This war was over much faster than the second Iraq war, which had a long lasting occupation.  Dick Cheney in this book goes over his decisions on these issues and overall this book presents the “official” pro-American military view.  Readers can draw their own conclusions when comparing this book to other sources, such as the Wikileaks files.