June 18th, 2014
10:00 AM ET
9 years ago

Cheney rips Obama over foreign policy in op-ed

Washington (CNN) –Former Vice President Dick Cheney and daughter Liz Cheney penned a scathing op-ed in which they offered a blistering critique of President Barack Obama’s handling of the escalating violence in Iraq.

"Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many," wrote Cheney and his daughter, a conservative pundit and former State Department official in the Bush administration, in an opinion piece  for the Wall Street Journal. "Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory."

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That line by the Cheneys spurred many on social media to accuse the former vice president of hypocrisy, because of his role as a major advocate for the Iraq war during the George W. Bush administration.

And Wednesday morning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the floor of the chamber to criticize Cheney.

"If there is one thing this country does not need is that we should be taking advice from Dick Cheney on wars. Being on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is being on the right side of history," Reid said.

Latest CNN reporting on fighting in Iraq

The Cheneys join a growing chorus of high profile Republicans who have criticized the Obama administration’s handling of Islamic militants who have cut a bloody swath across northern and central Iraq, regions American troops and Iraqi government forces had previously worked to secure. A number of Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a war veteran and strident critic of Obama’s policy toward Iraq, have blasted the President’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops out of the country at the end of 2011, and say that move left a security vacuum.

McCain, Obama's opponent in the 2008 presidential election, has asserted that some U.S. troops should have remained in Iraq to provide stability.

Republican critics say that void – coupled with the administration’s refusal to commit additional U.S. military support to opposition forces in neighboring Syria's civil war – has been exploited by the militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, to attack in Iraq.

Foreign policy helps push Obama to new low

The Cheneys agreed.

"Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change," the Cheneys wrote in the op-ed. "Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing. He seems blithely unaware, or indifferent to the fact, that a resurgent al Qaeda presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America."

The President has indicated that, while violence in Syria has been seeping over into Iraq, he doesn’t want to get pulled into another protracted war on foreign soil after ending the near decade long conflict begun under his predecessor.

The United States "will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq," Obama said on Friday as he read from a statement delivered from the White House South Lawn. The President also said he would be studying a number of alternative options.

The Cheneys feel the President should act with greater haste and force.

"It is time the president and his allies faced some hard truths: America remains at war, and withdrawing troops from the field of battle while our enemies stay in the fight does not "end" wars," the Cheneys wrote in the op-ed. "Weakness and retreat are provocative. U.S. withdrawal from the world is disastrous and puts our own security at risk."

The latest critique from Dick Cheney is especially salient since, as secretary of defense under former President George H.W. Bush, Cheney was deeply involved in the 1991 decision to mount a large-scale U.S. military operation in Iraq following that nation’s invasion of the small oil-rich nation of Kuwait. He would later become vice president in former President George W. Bush’s administration and helped craft the “War on Terror” in response to the September 11th attacks.

Cheney played a key role in urging the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction-a hunt that ultimately proved fruitless. Cheney has remained a supporter of the war in Iraq.

In the op-ed, the Cheneys accused Obama of undoing the hard-fought gains of troops serving under the previous administration.

"When Mr. Obama and his team came into office in 2009, al Qaeda in Iraq had been largely defeated, thanks primarily to the heroic efforts of U.S. armed forces during the surge," the Cheneys wrote. "Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace. Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory."

The Democratic National Committee Wednesday blasted an email out to reporters that was critical of the op-ed, saying that the "only rhetoric that needs a dose of reality is Mr. Cheney's."

The op-ed from the former vice president and his daughter Liz came as the two announced the launch of "The Alliance for a Strong America," a non-profit advocacy organization that they say will "advocate for a restoration of American strength and power."

The former vice president will serve as chairman of the new group, with daughter Liz serving as president.

Related: Hoyer: Obama administration 'should be considering' Iraq airstrikes

Former U.S. envoy to Iraq: U.S. needs special forces on ground in Iraq

Filed under: Dick Cheney • Iraq • Liz Cheney • President Obama
soundoff (1,079 Responses)
  1. Nick

    The U.S. has a bottomless pit of money and young soldiers willing to die, so I say, why not? Put those boots on the ground and let the fun begin once more.

    June 18, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. Hudson

    He already has made plenty of money from Halliburton so I think he is good. I understand he moved a lot of his money out of Halliburton and put it into several oil & gas exploration companies which have gone through the roof. So he is most likely sleeping well at night, fishing in Wyoming whenever he pleases and living very well in retirement.

    June 18, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  3. The Fladaboscan

    He has a lot of nerve.

    He caused the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqis. When Bush was asked at the beginning of his second term what the end of the war would look like he smiled and said 'you'll have to ask some other president." He didn't care a whit about what happened after he left office, which is no surprise considering the incredible harm he did when he was in office.

    June 18, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  4. JJC

    President Obama did try to leave a small amount of troops in Iraq. But the Iraq government would not give those troops immunity from being prosecuted in the Iraq courts. So the deal was off. Bravo to Obama for not allowing our troops to be prosecuted by the Iraq courts. So I guess McCain and Cheney think it would be OK for U.S. troops to be tried under another countries courts? What they are suggesting is anti-american, and is absurd. They do not care for the troops beyond just wanting to send them to their death for corporate greed.

    June 18, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. gg

    Never doubt that Republicans will use any crisis, especially one they created, as a fund raiser. Putrid.

    June 18, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  6. Mark60516

    1. Cheney pushed Bush to get us into Iraq on false or, at least, grossly negligent grounds.
    2. Bush, not Obama, committed the US to withdrawal all troops from Iraq.
    3. The Iraq War drained our resources, both military and economic (except for war profiteers and contractors), impairing our mission in Afghanistan and contributing to the Great Recession, and the current ISIS threat is less of a global concern than Saddam Hussein was.

    June 18, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  7. luke

    By Dick's rational it appears we should be in every nation where there is an al-qeda off shoot. That would put us in just about every 3rd world country on the planet. Also, he is acting like we should have left an army in Iraq. He seems to be delusional in thinking that Iraq was ever, and would ever be stable. We could have kept 160,000 troops there and this STILL would have happened. This shows that getting involved in Syria would have just been an exercise in HELPING terrorists. Asad is looking like an angel now compared to the "rebels" who turned out the be lunatics. The only way to rule people who are at each other's throats is with an iron fist dictator, and that has been shown over and over again, yet we keep thinking the democracy is the answer. Democracy only works when people are willing to resolve differences through diplomacy, and not violence. People who still subscribe to tribal and religious principles above all else are not ready for democracy.

    June 18, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. Andrew

    Why are you giving him media time?
    Are you all crazy?
    Get him off. Keep him off.

    June 18, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. jo

    He had 8 years in office to come up with a solution for the mess he helped create. Only made things worse. Now he wants to offer advise.. hahaha.. got love the arrogance.

    June 18, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  10. neverbefore5

    We should be grateful to the American people that Romney is not in the White House right now. Or, God forbid, McCain and Palin. The blood runs cold just thinking about it...

    June 18, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  11. salty dog

    Unbridled arrogance, soaked up by boundless ignorance

    June 18, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  12. Ccampa

    Dick must be losing oil money. I can't believe he dares to say the administration is wrong about so much at the expense of so many. I would think he was talking about New Orleans during Katrina. Katrina was the perfect excuse for the attempt of genocide of their administration in New Orleans. This is beyond hypocrisy and shamelessness.

    I don't know about the GOP, but I rather spend the trillions that went to the Iraq war on the American people. But then again a lot of the dollars went back to GOP leaders and their businesses. The business of war always benefiting GOPers

    June 18, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. anthony b..

    What's really scary is the Cheney's actually believe that crap they are spewing!

    June 18, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. NMR

    Fire calling the kettle black

    June 18, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. David

    As someone who served several years in the region I would have to say that this mess sits entirely on Cheney's shoulders. We knew the regions history, our presence drew the radicals in where they had not been before, and this mans ego and indifference to people is what drove this. How many decades do we need to occupy Iraq/Afghanistan before we realize that the lessons from the Russians and British are accurate.....The radicals are trying to pull us back in, we are their best recruiting tool. Cheney is too arrogant to ever admit the lies he told to get us their, to acknowledge the Trillions we spent there, the lives we lost their. How about some actual journalism from CNN instead of just giving platform to old men. Does CNN even know that the history of the region?

    June 18, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. Bob C.

    "Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace."

    He couldn't, because the previous administration already had agreed to completely pull out of Iraq. See "U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement". Leaving behind residual forces is not completely withdrawing and violates the agreement. Besides, according to that agreement, starting in 2012 any remaining U.S. troops would lose immunity and could be tried in Iraqi courts for any crime.

    I hate how the GOP is always rewriting history even when it's less than 10 years old. How dumb and forgetful do they think we are? We invaded Iraq for 9/11. No connection to 9/11? WMDs then. What, no WMDs either? We meant to say we invaded to install a democracy. We hate the new leader they chose? We did a lousy job? Blame it all on Obama. You know, one of the few people in Congress who voted against the invasion in the first place.

    June 18, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. Erick Holmes

    Cheney has no room to talk. He got us in a war that was unneeded, now he attacks Obama without accepting responsibility. Nothing new.

    June 18, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. john

    "Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many,"

    Sounds like he is talking about the Bush incursion into Iraq based on the false pretense of "WMD."

    Cheney is irrelevant anyway

    June 18, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. arenagal

    This guy Cheney is one of the chief architect of the presumptuous war in Iraq, and he wants us to continue fighting with boots on the ground until every last US soldier is killed. Heartless! He doesn't have a son on the frontlines and he has never fought for this country, we should not listen to him.

    June 18, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  20. lacoaster

    I am with Erick Holmes: "Cheney has no room to talk. He got us in a war that was unneeded, now he attacks Obama without accepting responsibility. Nothing new."

    I totally agree. Thanks for the comment.

    June 18, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  21. Quixote

    Would that be the same dick cheney whose lies are the reason that Iraq is a mess? The same dick cheney who was wrong about EVERY statement he made about Iraq? The same dick cheney who cannot leave the United States because he will be arrested for violating the international treaty banning torture that Ronald Reagan passed?
    Or is there some other dick cheney whose opinion might be worth more than a steaming pile of dog mess?

    June 18, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  22. Mike

    Who gives credence to a guy who made huge mistakes in office and then points fingers when the inevitable hens come home to roost? Did anyone seriously think Shock and Awe was going to end in a stable Iraq? Ever? This is just Dick's way of trying to dissuade the perception that he and George were flat wrong about invading a country that was no threat to us, and has thousands of years of being at war with itself. It's sad for the enormous losses, they add up to more lives than were lost on 9/11.

    June 18, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  23. Phil Esteen

    If you wanted to listen to a Machiavellian war criminal for suggestions on how to murder and torture human beings and get away with it, then Dick Cheney would be your first choice.

    The only difference between Dick "Halliburton" Cheney And Hitler is that Hitler had more intelligence and nearly achieved his goal of dominating the Earth with hate.

    Cheney fails at everything.

    June 18, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  24. Steve

    Rare perhaps, but then not as rare as lying to the country about wmd in order to invade a country. War crimes tribunal anyone?

    June 18, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. d

    Personally, I don't like Obama. But I don't like being at war more. I think we should wait and see what Canada and Poland so to handle the situation and help them out if they need it. It is time to stop letting the rest of the world use us as a pitbull while they enjoy the peace. I think it is their turn to head the spear.

    June 18, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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