Lawrence Eagleburger mocked Dick Cheney on Tuesday, saying that the former vice president, whom he dubbed "benighted," has long exaggerated his position as a partisan in favor of removing Saddam Hussein from power during the first Gulf War.
Eagleburger, a GOP elder statesman who was in President George H.W. Bush's inner circle during the war, said Cheney and others who say they were "screaming and yelling" for Hussein's removal only did so when it was obvious Bush had the capacity to do so. When the real decision was being made, Eagleburger implies, Cheney sang a different tune. Eagleburger answered questions at a Brookings Institution forum.
Cheney has recently taken center stage as a spokesman for a GOP hard line. Eagleburger, a former secretary of state, is the highest-ranking Republican to challenge him.
"The arguments that were made later by some of the benighted people--oh, never mind. I will just say screaming and yelling about how the president should have gone after Saddam at that time were only made once it was a fairly clear that he could have done so. If he had done so it would have been taking the advice of certain people who became vice presidents later on," said Eagleburger.
Ryan Grim is the author of the forthcoming book This Is Your Country On Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America