George Herbert Walker Bush Reveals Cheney Considered Using Nuclear Weapons Against Iraq
George Bush Sr book reveals a more dangerous Dick Cheney than anyone knew
Destiny and Power shows a VP with more authority than almost all his predecessors, making plain Bush Jr’s administration could have been even worse
Julian Borger, Diplomatic editor
The Guardian, Thursday 5 November 2015
This unilateralist inclination was clearly the younger Bush’s choice. It was how he intended from the outset to make his foreign policy distinctive from his father’s. And it was this characteristic that made for such a dangerously volatile and over-reaching US response when the 9/11 attacks came.
There is no doubt that Cheney and Rumsfeld were given more licence and authority than almost all their predecessors once the “war on terror” began. Cheney was certainly the most powerful vice-president of modern times, with a large and assertive staff, something that Bush Sr draws particular attention to.
Cheney and Rumsfeld used their enhanced power to poison the flow of information to the president’s desk about Iraq and its supposed weapons of mass destruction. The vice-president even made repeated trips to CIA headquarters in Langley to bully analysts into producing more hawkish reports, while Rumsfeld’s Pentagon sucked up highly dubious “evidence” from Iraqi exiles and ideological freelancers. But, as even as the ever-forgiving father admits in Meacham’s book, it was President Bush who allowed Cheney to grow his own empire.
Perhaps the most alarming revelation to emerge from the new Bush biography is the elder man’s recollection that while Cheney had been his defence secretary, he had commissioned a study on how many tactical nuclear weapons would be needed to eliminate a division of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard.
Apparently the answer was 17, though a more profound conclusion is that Cheney was a more dangerous figure than anyone knew. It adds weight to reporting by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker that Cheney also contemplated the use of low-yield nuclear bunker-busters against Iran’s underground uranium enrichment facilities. The more we hear about the George W Bush administration, the clearer it becomes that the global damage it wrought could have been even worse.