Former Vice President Dick Cheney was on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos Sunday to discuss the recent violence in Iraq, as well as his infamous op-ed in the Wall Street Journal where he claimed that President Obama is directly responsible for the chaos in Iraq and the Middle East. Cheney has been roundly criticized for article and has been taken to task by both the left and right. Last week, Cheney was lambasted by Fox News’ Megyn Kelly during an interview. On top of that, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) claimed that Obama should not be blamed and that the the decision to go to war with Iraq is the main cause of the current unrest there.
In his interview Sunday, Cheney continued to criticize the President and took shots at Paul. At the same time, Cheney skirted any blame the previous administration should take for deciding to go to war in the first place. Instead, Cheney advocated for a “two war strategy” and basically stated that the United States needs to commit tens of thousands of troops in various portions of the Middle East for an indefinite period of time. He said that Obama should send 20,000 American troops to Iraq now, devote resources to Syria and not withdraw any troops from Afghanistan. Overall, Cheney was defiant and pushed for American imperialism, while dismissing any criticism he should take for his role in this mess.
When pressed by Jonathan Karl on his own strategy in Iraq and the Middle East, Cheney presented a total imperialistic plan that would keep the US in an eternal quagmire.
KARL: But let me — let me ask you specifically on Iraq, because that — that’s the crisis confronting us right at this moment.
Would you in — would you take war — you know, air strikes against ISIS?
Would you move Special Forces into Iraq?
What would you do in Iraq?
CHENEY: Well, I — what we should have done in Iraq was…
KARL: No, no, what would you do now?
CHENEY: — leave behind a force — well, what I would do now, John, is, among other things, be realistic about the nature of the threat. When we’re arguing over 300 advisers when the request had been for 20,000 in order to do the job right, I’m not sure we’ve really addressed the problem.
I would definitely be helping the resistance up in Syria, in ISIS’ backyard, with training and weapons and so forth, in order to be able to do a more effective job on that end of the party.
But I think at this point, there are no good, easy answers in Iraq. And, again, I think it’s very important to emphasize that the problem we’re faced with is a much broader one, that we need to — an administration to recognize the fact that we’ve got this huge problem, quit peddling the notion that they — they got core al Qaeda and therefore there’s no problem out there.
KARL: Now, you…
CHENEY: They’ve got to rebuild trust and relationship with our friends in the region.
KARL: Do you…
CHENEY: It’s very important to take a broad gauge approach to it.
Karl then asked Cheney about Paul’s statements that those who were the war’s biggest cheerleaders should not be listened to this time around, Cheney shrugged it off and stated that we shouldn’t look to the past and that we need to maintain a presence in the Middle East. He also dismissed Paul as being an isolationist, apparently meaning that Paul’s opinion is meaningless.
KARL: Now, Rand Paul, pointing to things like that, wrote in “The Wall Street Journal” also, “Many of those clamoring for military action now are the same people who made every false assumption imaginable about the cost, challenge and purpose of the Iraq War. They have been wrong for so long, why should we listen to him — listen to them again?” your response?
CHENEY: With all — all due respect, John, I was a strong supporter then of going into Iraq, I’m a strong supporter now. Everybody knows what my position is. There’s nothing to be argued about there.
But if we spend our time debating what happened 11 or 12 years ago, we’re going to miss the threat that is growing and that we do face. Rand Paul, with all due respect, is basically an isolationist. He doesn’t believe we ought to be involved in that part of the world.
I think it’s absolutely essential.
One of the things I worried about 12 years ago and that I worry about today is that there will be another 9/11 attack and that the next time, it’ll be with weapons far deadlier than airline tickets and box cutters.
And when we have a situation developing in Pakistan, for example, where there are nuclear weapons, where supposedly that technology has been sold to the North Koreans, at the same time, the president announces the complete withdrawal from Afghanistan right next door, that we’re — we’re missing the boat. We don’t understand the nature of the threat and we’re unwilling to deal with it.
Finally, Cheney made sure to completely disparage the President and suggest that he is making America less safe by not engaging in combat with several different nations. Because, nothing says peace like and ongoing, multi-front war.
KARL: Do you — in your op-ed, you have a broader critique, which you’re — you’re making now, as well, of the president’s foreign policy. And you write, “President Obama seems determined to leave office ensuring that he has taken America down a notch.”
In this op-ed, you also suggest the president is a — a fool — that was the word you used — only a fool would — would take the — the approach he’s taking in Iraq right now.
It almost seems like you’re accusing the president of treason here, saying he’s intentionally bringing America down a notch.
CHENEY: No, my reference didn’t refer just to Iraq. It referred to the fact that we’ve left a big vacuum in the Middle East by our withdrawal from Iraq with no stay-behind agreement, by the commitment he made just a couple of weeks ago, that we’re going to completely withdraw from Afghanistan with no stay-behind agreement.
We create a vacuum and it’s being filled. And today, it’s being filled by ISIS — by Sisi (ph) from Syria. It’s being filled by their attempt, obviously, to take over all of Iraq, but it’s also being filled by places like Pakistan, where the Taliban have just launched a major attack on the Karachi airport.
The — the scope of the problem, in part, is based upon an unwillingness by the president to recognize we have a problem. They’re still living back in the day when they claimed we got bin Laden, the terrorism problem is solved.
That wasn’t true then. It’s even less true today. The threat is bigger than it’s ever been. The danger of nuclear proliferation in the hands of terrorists is bigger than it’s ever been. We need to dramatically reverse course on our defense budget. We are decimating the defense budget, not al Qaeda. We need to go back to a two war strategy, not the one war strategy that he’s put in place.
We have 40 brigades in the United States Army, only four of them are combat ready. He is dramatically limiting the capability of future presidents to deal with crises by virtue of the policies he’s taken.
Now, I don’t intend any disrespect for the president, but I fundamentally disagree with him. I think he’s dead wrong in terms of the course he’s taken this nation and I think we’re in for big trouble in the years ahead because of his refusal to recognize reality and because of his continual emphasis upon getting the U.S. basically to withdraw from that part of the world.
I think I speak for the majority of Americans when I say the following: Dick Cheney, please go far, far away and don’t ever come back.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).