Cheney points finger at Obama's 'indifference' for rise of ISIS

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday said there is a connection between the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and President Obama's disengagement abroad, accusing him of "principled indifference."

ADVERTISEMENT

"The terrorists who threaten this country and our friends are on the wrong side of civilization," he said during prepared remarks at the American Enterprise Institute. "They will be on the wrong side of history only if we put them there. We must deal with threats before they become grave dangers and dangers before they become catastrophes."

Ahead of Obama's prime-time address Wednesday night on the threat from ISIS, Cheney said he hoped for signs of a bold strategy that would "mark an abrupt and dramatic departure from the record thus far."

Cheney said the threat from ISIS is immediate and needs "sustained action." He called for the United States to target the group in both Iraq and Syria and increase the number of military advisers in the region.  

"Our president must understand we are at war and that we must do what it takes, for as long as it takes, to win," he said. 

The U.S. relationship with Middle East partners has been badly damaged in the past few years and "we have got to go prove our self" to restore confidence, Cheney said. 

After traveling to the Middle East a few months back, Cheney said he heard the same question many times: "Just what is Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama'Too Far Left' hashtag trends on Twitter Krystal Ball: Patrick's 2020 bid is particularly 'troublesome' for Warren Deval Patrick: Biden 'misses the moment' in 2020 campaign MORE doing?"

More broadly, Cheney called Obama "willfully blind" to the idea that U.S. security is not self-sustaining, and called for a new commitment to the military budget. He also pressed Congress to put a priority on the Defense budget next year. 

He touted himself as one of the "architects" of the security apparatus built up during former President George W. Bush's administration, which he said has been degraded during Obama's term.  

Democrats and the administration have pushed back on Cheney’s advice in the past, accusing the Bush administration of foreign policy blunders in Iraq. 

“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,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the floor Wednesday. 

Cheney’s speech came a day after he spoke with the GOP House caucus, where he received what he called a "great reception." Though he focused his prepared remarks Wednesday on the president, he did not shy away from criticizing some in the Republican Party as well during the question and answer portion.  

He called the isolationist strain in the Republican Party "dead wrong." After living through 9/11, he said, it is hard to buy into the idea that the United States should stand back and let the rest of the world "stew on its own juices."