"If you're going to go in and try to topple Saddam Hussein, you have to go to Baghdad. Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it. It's not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that's currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime or a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward the Islamic fundamentalists? How much credibility is that government going to have if it's set up by the United States military when it's there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for that government, and what happens to it once we leave?"
-- Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, defending Bush 41's decision to end the Gulf War. (source: New York Times, April 1991, via Chatterbox)
The issue of the occupation of Iraq is discussed in much more detail by James Fallows in the November issue of The Atlantic.
 Cheney is not the only one in this Administration who has done a 180 on Iraq. Donald Rumsfeld was actually envoy to Saddam during the Reagan Administration (December 1983), pledging support and normalization of diplomatic relations. He went back in March of 1984, and the very day he arrived in Baghdad, the UN issued a report that confirmed allegations that Iraq had used nerve gas against the Iranians. These reports were corroborated by the State Department as well. Rumsfeld did not mention the issue of biological weapons to Saddam. Worse:
Throughout the period that Rumsfeld was Reagan�s Middle East envoy, Iraq was frantically purchasing hardware from American firms, empowered by the White House to sell. The buying frenzy began immediately after Iraq was removed from the list of alleged sponsors of terrorism in 1982. According to a February 13, 1991 Los Angeles Times article:
�First on Hussein's shopping list was helicopters -- he bought 60 Hughes helicopters and trainers with little notice. However, a second order of 10 twin-engine Bell "Huey" helicopters, like those used to carry combat troops in Vietnam, prompted congressional opposition in August, 1983... Nonetheless, the sale was approved.�
In 1984, according to The LA Times, the State Department�in the name of �increased American penetration of the extremely competitive civilian aircraft market��pushed through the sale of 45 Bell 214ST helicopters to Iraq. The helicopters, worth some $200 million, were originally designed for military purposes. The New York Times later reported that Saddam �transferred many, if not all [of these helicopters] to his military.�
In 1988, Saddam�s forces attacked Kurdish civilians with poisonous gas from Iraqi helicopters and planes. U.S. intelligence sources told The LA Times in 1991, they �believe that the American-built helicopters were among those dropping the deadly bombs.�
In response to the gassing, sweeping sanctions were unanimously passed by the US Senate that would have denied Iraq access to most US technology. The measure was killed by the White House.