WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), walking a careful line Wednesday morning in backing the military options for Iraq that President Barack Obama is expected to lay out later in the day, mocked former Vice President Dick Cheney, who on Tuesday counseled tough action in the nation he helped invade.
Cheney told the GOP House caucus that America must be strong and take robust action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which was created and initially flourished amid the Iraq war launched by former President George W. Bush, largely under the tutelage of Cheney and other like-minded hawks.
The Islamic State, sometimes called ISIS, migrated to Syria and grew amid the revolution there. It has since swept rapidly through western and northern Iraq, seizing territory in an especially brutal fashion and declaring a new Islamic caliphate.
Reid, noting the group's recent beheadings of American reporters James Foley and Steven Sotloff and its slaughter of thousands of people in its path, argued that senators must embrace a careful, targeted military approach that is bolstered by international allies, and one that avoids putting U.S. boots on the ground.
He contrasted that with the approach recommended by Cheney, which Reid said would simply amount to war.
"There are people here in Congress who are taking advice from Dick Cheney," Reid said in a 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."
Reid, who has called his own vote for that war a "mistake," added that the consequences of that invasion have been catastrophic.
"Not only have we lost thousands of Americans' lives, it has destabilized the whole Middle East," Reid said.
He also signaled that he does not believe Congress has to vote to give Obama the authority to act in Iraq and Syria, all but ruling out any such vote before the November elections -- even though under the War Powers Resolution the president's 60 days to act will have expired by the time of the midterms, having begun with air strikes in northern Iraq in August.
"The president has the authority he needs now to act," Reid said. "I believe the vast majority of members of Congress agree with that. For now, it's critical we support our commander in chief as he takes this decisive action."
Passing some sort of authorization to use military force -- as Congress did before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- would amount to caving into Cheney's war-mongering, Reid said.
"I'm amazed... amazed that some members of Congress want to rush to war. Because that's what they're talking about, a war. How did that work out for us last time?" Reid said.
"The Bush-Cheney strategy of rushing into conflict doesn't work," Reid continued, before mocking the idea that House Republicans would still be listening to Cheney. "He gave them advice on foreign policy ... Please. Taking advice on foreign policy from Dick Cheney? That's a terrifying prospect. We should be learning from our past mistakes, not repeating them."
Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.