The new issue of Newsweek features an interview with President Barack Obama where he, in part, discusses former vice president Dick Cheney’s recent criticism of him. Obama pointed out that Dick Cheney is still fighting the same battle on national security that he lost during the last few years of the Bush administration.
Here is what President Obama told Newsweek about Cheney criticism, “You know, Dick Cheney had a strong perspective about national security. It was tested in the early years of the Bush administration, and I think it resulted in a series of very bad decisions. I think what’s interesting is that, in some ways, Dick Cheney actually lost these arguments inside the Bush administration.”
The president elaborated, “And so he may have won early with Colin Powell and Condi Rice, but over the last two or three years of the Bush administration, I think there was a recognition among Republicans and Bush administration officials that these enhanced interrogation techniques that were being applied—that they had applied early on—were potentially counterproductive; that a posture of never talking to our enemies, of unilateral action, of framing national security only in terms of the application of force, often unilateral—that that wasn’t producing.”
He continued, “And so it’s interesting to me to see the vice president spending so much time trying to vindicate himself and relitigate the last eight years when, as I said, I think, actually, a lot of these arguments were settled even before we took over the White House.”
Obama brought up a really good point. I am sure that most people remember that Dick Cheney continued to claim that there was a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda long after President Bush admitted that there wasn’t. Cheney also continued to make bogus WMD claims about Iraq long after it was clear that there were no WMDs in the country.
Even after the Iraq war spun out of control, and Cheney lost much of his influence over Bush’s foreign policy, he continued to make the same arguments then that he is making today. Cheney is an ideological warrior who is on a never ending quest for vindication. Obama’s description of Cheney as a man who still fighting battles that were already lost is not only appropriate, but also highly accurate.