Republican Sen. Rand Paul is “basically an isolationist,” according to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who expressed his concern with the idea of the Kentucky senator being the GOP nominee during the next presidential cycle.
“Now, Rand Paul and — by my standards, as I look at his — his philosophy, is basically an isolationist,” Cheney told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl this morning on “This Week.” “That didn’t work in the 1930s, it sure as heck won’t work in the aftermath of 9/11, when 19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters came all the way from Afghanistan and killed 3,000 of our citizens.”
Cheney said he believes its essential that the United States is involved in the Middle East.
“He [Paul] doesn’t believe we ought to be involved in that part of the world,” added Cheney. “I haven’t picked a nominee yet. But one of the things that’s right at the top of my list is whether or not the individual we nominate believes in a strong America, believes in a situation where the United States is able to provide the leadership in the world, basically, to maintain the peace and to take on the al Qaeda types wherever they show up.”
Earlier this week, Cheney and his daughter Liz published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal harshly criticizing President Obama for his foreign policy in the Middle East, writing “rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”
“Now, I don’t intend any disrespect for the president, but I fundamentally disagree with him,” Cheney said. “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.”
But Cheney dismissed criticism of his own prior statements and actions on the Iraq War, saying during the interview “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.” He added that there are no “good” or “easy” answers when it comes to Iraq today, but it is important to acknowledge the scope of the problem and that it extends to the broader region.
“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,” Cheney said.
During the interview, Cheney was also asked about the tenure of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In an interview in 2008, Cheney told Karl that Clinton, who had just been selected by President-Elect Obama to lead the State Department, may be “just what” Obama needs. Karl asked Cheney to reassess now that Clinton’s tenure at Foggy Bottom is over.
“I was impressed with Secretary Clinton in terms of her potential going in. The problem was, she was working for a president that has a fundamentally different philosophy than most of the presidents, Republican and Democrat alike, have had for the last 70 years, since World War II,” he said. “We’ve believed, we’ve had a national consensus, the world works best when America is strong and is prepared to use that strength when necessary. She has not operated in that kind of an environment. I also think she’s been a disappointment with respect to things like Benghazi and other problems that have arisen while she was secretary.”