By Brigitte L. Nacos
It is difficult enough to listen to John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and others in the camp of perennial foreign policy hawks who have not seen a violent conflict or a perceived major threat abroad without demanding American military aid or military deployment. This was the case in the Libyan uprising against Gaddafi, the Syrian civil war, the conflict in the Ukraine, Iraq, again. And, of course, Iran!
It is more difficult to watch former Vice President Dick Cheney making the same case. He wants more of our military in Iraq, left more forces in Afghanistan, and, strangely, told ABC’s John Karl he “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.” Karl did not call him on that. ISIS is by far strongest force of the Syrian resistance against the Assad regime. How, then, would Cheney support the Syrian National Coalition and prevail?
While out of the country I missed some of Cheney’s frequent media appearances. He has his lines remembered, repeats them at every stop. Especially when ask about the Iraq invasion. “I believed in it then. I look back on it now - it was absolutely the right thing to do.” That’s what he said the other day during a friendly “Playbook Lunch” hosted by Politico’s Mike Allen. That’s what he said when interviewed on ABC’s “This Week.” That’s what he had repeated elsewhere according to transcripts and reports I read today.
“At this stage, you know I’m not spending a lot of time looking back 12 or 14 years at what was or wasn’t done then,” Cheney told the Daily Caller, “I’m concerned about the future. And about the threats were going to face and do face as a nation at this very moment.”
Sure, instead of pondering his starring role in past blunders, he rather criticizes President Obama for his measured foreign policy decisions, especially, as they relate to the Middle East and South Asia.
In the interview with Karl he said, “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.”
Interestingly, just as Cheney has fundamental disagreements with the president, he has the same problem with fellow-Republican Rand Paul who actually agrees with Barack Obama on these foreign and security issues.
In response to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s op-ed attack on Paul’s isolationist foreign policy position vis-à-vis today’s Iraq, Paul responded in his own op-ed, ” The let’s-intervene-and-consider-the-consequences-later crowd left us with more than 4,000 Americans dead, over 2 million refugees and trillions of dollars in debt. Anytime someone advocates sending our sons and daughters to war, questions about precise objectives, effective methods and an exit strategy must be thoughtfully answered. America deserves this. Our military certainly deserves this.”
Paul left no doubt that he considers Dick Cheney to be part of the “let’s-intervene-and-consider-the-consequences-later crowd,” when he wrote in the same opinion piece, “When Megyn Kelly of Fox News tells Dick Cheney that “history has proven that you got it wrong” on Iraq, it is a very important lesson—we must remember that history so we don’t repeat it.”
One wonders, whether Cheney's or Paul's view will prevail in the GOP.
Yesterday, after I wrote this post, Cheney got yet another opportunity to justfy his colossal Iraq debacle in an interview with CNN’s Jack Tapper claiming that the Bush administration left Iraq in good shape and that the present crisis is Obama’s (and PM Maliki’s) fault because the president left no stay-behind force in Iraq. Again, he spoke about the threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction in the context of the right decision to invade Iraq after 9/11. The same old lies.