"I think that the proposition of going to Baghdad is also fallacious. I think if we were going to remove Saddam Hussein we would have had to go all the way to Baghdad, we would have to commit a lot of force because I do not believe he would wait in the Presidential Palace for us to arrive. I think we'd have had to hunt him down. And once we'd done that and we'd gotten rid of Saddam Hussein and his government, then we'd have had to put another government in its place.
What kind of government? Should it be a Sunni government or Shi'i government or a Kurdish government or Ba'athist regime? Or maybe we want to bring in some of the Islamic fundamentalists? How long would we have had to stay in Baghdad to keep that government in place? What would happen to the government once U.S. forces withdrew? How many casualties should the United States accept in that effort to try to create clarity and stability in a situation that is inherently unstable?
I think it is vitally important for a President to know when to use military force. I think it is also very important for him to know when not to commit U.S. military force. And it's my view that the President got it right both times, that it would have been a mistake for us to get bogged down in the quagmire inside Iraq."
-- Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, Soref Symposium April 29, 1991
Cheney's assessment was accurate back then, but does not by itself invalidate the decision to go to war. However, this quote from Dick Cheney from March 16th 2003 on Meet the Press reveals a change in Cheney's thinking:
MR. RUSSERT: If your analysis is not correct, and we�re not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don�t think it�s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. [...] The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.
That quote by Cheney is essentially the founding assumption of the Iraq War. And why, in retrospect, even if it needed to be fought, it should not have been fought by this president or this administration.