It was a bit hard to spot beneath all the Obama bashing, but it appears that the secondary target of Dick and Liz Cheney’s Iraq op-ed was the GOP’s libertarian wing. Rand Paul took the bait, responding with his own Wall Street Journal piece and several Sunday show appearances, in which he argued that we need a new approach to foreign policy, since both parties have been so wrong on Iraq. “Many of those clamoring for military action now are the same people who made every false assumption imaginable about the cost, challenge and purpose of the Iraq war,” Paul wrote. “They have been so wrong for so long. Why should we listen to them again?” In an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Cheney explained that he has little use for the “isolationist” senator from Kentucky.
When asked about Paul’s comments, Cheney said his position hasn’t changed: “I was a strong supporter then of going into Iraq, I’m a strong supporter now.” (He was more vague about what exactly the U.S. should be doing in Iraq now, aside from it being the opposite of whatever President Obama is doing.) “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,” Cheney continued. “Rand Paul, with all due respect, is basically an isolationist. He doesn’t believe we ought to be involved in that part of the world. I think it’s absolutely essential.”
Later, Cheney said he hasn’t decided who he’ll support in 2016, but suggested it won’t be Paul. “Now, Rand Paul and — by my standards, as I look at his — his philosophy, is basically an isolationist,” he said. “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.”
Finally, Cheney was asked to weigh in on whether he was wrong when he predicted in 2008 that as as secretary of State, Hillary Clinton “may turn out to be just what President Obama needs.” The former vice president said he was right about Clinton’s potential, but “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.” Oh, and Benghazi or something: “I also think she’s been a disappointment with respect to things like Benghazi and other problems that have arisen while she was secretary.” He doesn’t want to infuriate every Republican.