Take that, Dick: Democrats respond to Cheney’s scathing op-ed critique
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former Vice President Dick Cheney and daughter Liz Cheney penned a scathing father-daughter 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,” the wrote Cheney and his daughter, a conservative pundit and former State Department official in the Bush administration, in an opinion piece Wednesday for the Wall Street Journal. “Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.”
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.
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.
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.
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