Former Vice-President of the United States Dick Cheney spoke to an impressive, yet intimate crowd in Calgary. The Bon Mot Book Club, began by Leah Costello, kicked off its first Calgary speaker series on Tuesday evening. Vice-President Cheney spoke briefly reflecting on his experiences in office. He then entertained questions from the audience.
Most of the questions were geopolitical in nature and invited VP Cheney to provide his thoughts on the state of affairs in countries from China, to Iran, to Saudi Arabia, to North Korea.
When asked for his “professional predictions,” he humbly admitted ignorance of the future saying, “I don’t know.” Speaking ten years after the 9/11 attacks, VP Cheney explained that 9/11 has been constantly at the forefront of his mind during each day that he served in office. Responding to accusations of torture, he explained that three people had been waterboarded during his vice-presidency and that all of the techniques used had been tested on Americans in military training.
Cheney said that social security and medicare entitlements have the greatest impact on the US debt load, while insisting that defence spending is not the problem. He argued for Reagan era-like tax reforms and proposed raising the retirement age because people are living longer and so can work longer.
Cheney considered the pros and cons of further technology. He said that he recognizes the increased vulnerability that is associated, citing the threats of greater proliferation of nuclear weapons and of cyber warfare as examples.
His personal and political memoir In My Time was recently released.