CBS’ “Face the Nation” with Charlie Rose returned to yellow journalism dragging 73-year-old heart transplant patient former Vice President Dick Cheney back on national TV. Calling President Barack Obama “weak,” Cheney insisted Obama “hasn’t got credibility with our allies,” citing the president’s failures in Syria and, more recently, Ukraine. “We have created an image around the world not just for the Russians, of weakness, indecisiveness,” Cheney told Rose. Cheney showed great decisiveness when he orchestrated the Iraq War, bombing Baghdad March 20, 2003, causing 4,484 U.S. military deaths and costing the U.S. treasury over $1 trillion dollars. Cheney’s decisiveness in Iraq and Afghanistan practically bankrupted the economy, sending the U.S. spiraling into the worst recession since the Great Depression. Cheney gives Obama no credit for cleaning up his mess.
With more energy from his March 25, 2012 heart transplant, Cheney has plenty of vitriol for the man who rescued the U.S. economy from Bush & Cheney’s economic calamity. “My answer is reinstate the ballistic missile defense program and policy. [Russian President Vladimir Putin] cares a lot about that,” Cheney told “Face the Nation.” “Conduct joint military exercises with our NATO friends, close to the Russian border. Offer up equipment and training to the Ukrainian military.” Cheney’s prescription would send the world on the edge of potential military confrontation with Russia. If the U.S. has less credibility around the globe, it’s because of the gratuitous Iraq War that gave Putin the excuse to invade Ukraine. When the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein April 10, 2003 it emboldened the Russians to follow Bush & Cheney’s prescription for preemptive war, now coming back to roost.
Calling Obama “weak,” shows just how reckless Cheney was with the U.S. military. It took Obama three years to finally close the door on Iraq and now six years to end the ever-wasteful 12-year adventure in Afghanistan. While the U.S. certainly had a right to go after the Taliban for harboring Osama bin Laden in the wake of Sept. 11, staying 12 years after Bin Laden and al-Qaida fled Afghanistan was one of the most costly boondoggles in U.S. history. Cheney insists that if only the U.S. had more time in Iraq and Afghanistan, or, more recently, started a new war in Syria. Were it not for his heart problems that kept his sidelined, Cheney would have been, like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the nation’s biggest advocate for war in Syria. Despite the insults from the GOP, Obama’s shown the appropriate restraint to keep the U.S. out of another costly Mideast war.
If Obama followed Cheney’s prescription installing missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic, it would have cost the U.S. military billions at a time to GOP-driven military budget cuts. Cheney needs to look no further than House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget to figure out who’s responsible for slashing the defense budget. “I worry when we begin to address the crisis, the first thing we do is take options off the table,” said Cheney, regarding possible military intervention in Ukraine. Cheney knows McCain publicly admitted that military options were not on the table. “There are military options that don’t involve putting groups on the ground in Crimea,” said Cheney, urging the U.S. to arm, train and supply cash to Ukrainian rebels. Putin has turned Ukraine’s revolution against Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s argument about the new government’s legitimacy.
Hurling insults at a U.S. president isn’t unusual for Cheney when Democrats are in power. “There’s no question Putin believes [Obama] is weak,” said Cheney, pushing the president into taking more reckless action. While the White House and European Union certainly side with Ukraine’s new revolutionary government, the U.S. doesn’t have a dog in the hunt in Ukraine. Half-way around the world in the Black Sea, it's not the U.S. battle to back Ukrainian rebels simply because they seek closer ties to the EU or despise their former Russian masters. Cheney’s view of U.S. foreign policy is use the military to threaten countries that disagree with U.S. policy. Putin’s decision to annex Crimea directly relates to Russia’s existing military basex and worry that the new revolutionary government would be hostile to Russian interests. Russia’s national security interests are clear, not the U.S.’s.
Cheney’s recent remarks take sour grapes to new heights. He’s continuing to rewrite the Bush-Cheney legacy that abused the U.S. military and drove the economy into the Great Recession. Calling Obama “weak” shows how little regard Cheney has for today’s U.S. foreign policy, striking the right balance of restraint in an age of GOP-backed budget cuts. “No military” and “indecisiveness in Syria,” according to Cheney, has allowed Putin to seize Crimea. Obama's reluctance to intervene in Syria is precisely because U.S. weapons and cash could fall into al-Qaida’s hands. Cheney’s been out-of-the-loop for years, now shooting off his mouth to sell advertising for CBS. Calling Putin’s invasion of Crimea a ‘brazen act of aggression,” Kerry could only bite his tongue recalling U.S. reasons for invading Iraq. Bush & Cheney’s preemptive war strategy gave Putin all that he needed.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.