“If there is one thing that this country does not need, it’s that we should be taking advice from Dick Cheney on wars,” Reid said. “Being on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is to be on the right side of history.”
In a pointed speech on the Senate floor, Reid pushed back against the blistering critique Cheney made against Obama in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Cheney wrote, “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”
“Unfortunately, we have already tried it your way,” Reid said, “and it was the biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of the country.”
Cheney was very hawkish about the need to invade Iraq in 2003 claiming Iraq’s former dictator Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and insisting on using a small U.S. military force for the invasion. No such weapons were found in Iraq and the vacuum created by the invasion led to a bloody insurgency that lasted eight years.
While former President George W. Bush has declined to weigh in on the escalating crisis in Iraq, keeping his pledge of not criticizing a sitting president, Cheney has shown no such restraint. He unleashed forceful criticism of the Obama administration in the Wall Street Journal and in a new video, where he appears alongside his daughter, Liz, to promote their new group, the Alliance for a Strong America.
“The policies of the last six years have left America diminished and weakened,” Cheney said in the video. “Our enemies no longer fear us. Our allies no longer trust us.”
The back-and-forth reopened a long-running feud over Iraq between neo-conservatives and Democrats, with Reid rushing to Obama’s defense.
“Would they have preferred the U.S. stay in Iraq?” Reid said. “Would they have preferred that our soldiers stayed in Iraq in harm’s way? Are the Republicans willing to risk more American lives?”
The political debate is intensifying, but the lines between Republicans and Democrats are not as easy to determine as they were when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. While many Republicans share Cheney’s view toward the Obama administration, a libertarian strain inside the Republican Party has complicated the politics of the Iraq debate.
Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who is eying a presidential run in 2016, made that point clear, saying: “I don’t think you can have a Congress from 10 years ago make a decision for people 10 years later.”