Former Vice President Dick Cheney offered yet another critique of President Barack Obama's foreign policy on Wednesday, but beneath the heated rhetoric the leading architect of the Iraq War prescribed a strategy for countering Islamic State militants that essentially aligns with most politicians around the country.
Speaking at an American Enterprise Institute event in Washington, Cheney urged the president to counter Islamic State militants in the Middle East by expanding airstrikes in Syria, training Iraq's military forces, and partnering with allies to arm moderate Syrian opposition forces fighting President Bashar al-Assad. He stopped short, however, of calling for more U.S. ground troops in the region.
"A realistic strategy has to recognize that ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] is a grave, strategic threat to the United States," he said. "The situation is dire and defeating these terrorists will require immediate, sustained, simultaneous action across multiple fronts. Phasing in our actions will not suffice. Such a strategy will only prolong the conflict and increase the casualties."
When he speaks to the nation in a primetime address on Wednesday evening, Obama is expected to outline an expanded military and political effort to combat Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, including potentially launching airstrikes in Syria, according to the Associated Press. The speech comes amid growing concern about the threat posed by ISIS, with more Americans saying the United States is less safe now than at any point since 9/11.
The majority of Cheney's speech was dedicated to his faults with Obama's foreign policy, a topic he has returned to again and again in recent years. Obama is a "disengaged" president, the former vice president said, who has miscalculated threats to America's interests abroad.
"Whether it’s outright enemies like the regimes in Iran and North Korea, or strategic rivals like Russia and China, hostile people are drawing conclusions from the choices we make. They take note of the hard things we do as the pre-eminent democracy, and of the hard things we finish," he said.
"They watch what our leaders do, the enemies of America, and they listen to what our leaders say," he added. "And a few of our most single-minded enemies might well have wondered why, in recent years, President Obama was talking about the terrorists being on the run, in retreat, when precisely the opposite was happening."
Cheney further urged Obama to expand the global war on terror by ramping up defense spending, including the post-9/11 "Bush-Cheney security apparatus" -- policies he noted the president once opposed.
Reacting to news that Cheney met with House Republicans on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) expressed some mockery of the former vice president for beating the drums of war in the nation he helped invade.
"There are people here in Congress who are taking advice from Dick Cheney," Reid said in a Wednesday Senate floor speech. "I think they better be very careful with the advice that they take from Dick Cheney. Dick Cheney is more responsible than anyone else for the worst foreign policy decision in the history of the country -- the invasion of Iraq."