Guests on Sunday’s political talk show circuit focused squarely on the ongoing deterioration of the situation in Iraq, a nation that some of the Sunday guests—namely former Vice President Dick Cheney—wanted the U.S. to invade nearly twelve years ago. After more than a decade of war and a subsequent troop withdrawal from Iraq, the blame game for the country’s current state of turmoil has commenced.
Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation”, House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rodgers (R-Mich.) said that President Barack Obama’s decision to withdrawal troops from Iraq, combined with a failure to proactively deal with threats to stability in the region has helped the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the terror group making strides in Iraq, to flourish.
“We didn’t do anything in Syria; we didn’t do anything when they took Falluja; we didn’t do anything when they took Mosul; they got into Tikrit and said, ‘Hey this is a problem,’ ” he said.
Cheney, who was a driving force behind the 2003 invasion of Iraq, agreed with Rodgers’ assessment. The former vice president wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal last week accusing Obama of abandoning Iraq.
Cheney’s criticisms continued on ABC’s “This Week”, where he 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.”
Iraq’s current problems, the former vice president argued, exist because the Obama White House “created a vacuum” of power by pulling U.S. troops.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also agreed that a vacuum of power now exists in Iraq on NBC’s “Meet the Press” but stopped short of blaming Obama for all of the nation’s problems.
“I don’t blame President Obama,” Paul said. “Has he really got the solution? Maybe there is no solution.”
The Kentucky Republican said that it may be wise for Americans to instead question some of the leaders whose decision it was to go into Iraq in 2003, wondering: “Were they right in their predictions? Were there weapons of mass destruction there? Was the war won in 2005, when many of those people said it was won?”
Paul said that he doesn’t believe that G.W. Bush Administration officials fully understood the danger of civil war breaking out in Iraq.
But Cheney contends that Paul’s criticisms are simply the result of the Senator’s “isolationist” views.
“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,” Cheney 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.”
Cheney also argued that Americans shouldn’t reexamine Bush-era motives, saying, “[I]f 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.”
While Cheney is calling for immediate military action in Iraq, Paul said that—barring a threat to the U.S.—the military shouldn’t be deployed until Iraqi Shiites have shown will to defend themselves against the ISIS threat.
“There are times when a president would move quickly to dispel an imminent threat to our country, but where I disagree with the president is that his theory in Libya was that there was an imminent threat in Benghazi. That’s not what an imminent threat is, it’s an imminent threat to our country. And so what I would say is the Shiites who are ripping off their uniforms and running need to stand up and fight. Could we assist them in some way? I’m not ruling that out, but I would first wait to see are the Shiites going to fight for their country or not,” Paul told CNN’s Candy Crowley.
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) also said that the U.S. should hold off on reentering Iraq, describing Cheney’s vocal calls for large numbers of U.S. troops to again be sent to the nation as “a nightmare come back to haunt me.”
“The fact is what you’re seeing now is an outgrowth of that bad policy the neocons got us in — that crowd on false pretense that said, ‘Go in there,’ ” Boxer, one of the 23 Senators who voted against the original Iraq invasion, said on “Face the Nation.”
For now, the White House has committed to send up to 300 military advisors to Iraq in an attempt to take control of the situation without committing large numbers of U.S. troops.
“[What] we can’t do is think that we’re just going to play Whac-a-Mole and send U.S. troops occupying various countries wherever these organizations pop up,” Obama said in an interview that aired Sunday on “Face the Nation.”