Cheney rejects Trump's 'America First' foreign policy as dangerous isolationism

Cheney rejects Trump's 'America First' foreign policy as dangerous isolationism
© Greg Nash

House Republican Conference Chair Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyTrump sues Jan. 6 panel to block records A pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Liz Cheney is the Margaret Chase Smith of our time MORE (Wyo.) on Tuesday rejected the “America First” foreign policy that was the centerpiece of former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE’s global agenda.

Speaking during a virtual event with the Reagan Institute, the No. 3 House Republican warned against policies of isolationism and said the U.S. must take a leading role on the world stage as part of efforts to push back against China's and Russia's ambitions.

“These ideas are just as dangerous today as they were in 1940, when isolationists launched the America First movement to appease Hitler and prevent America from aiding Britain in the fight against the Nazis,” Cheney said. “Isolationism was wrong and dangerous then and it is wrong and dangerous now.”

The top House GOP lawmaker is a controversial figure in her party. Earlier this month she beat back efforts from opponents to remove her from her Republican leadership position after she voted to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Her willingness to break with Trump reflects the divide in the Republican Party over the former president's future in the GOP. 

While Cheney has broken with the Trump administration on policy before, she also criticized the Biden administration for reentering several multilateral agreements that she views as threatening to America’s national security interest.

“I do think that it's very important for us not to confuse American leadership in the world with America ... re-entering into agreements that we know are damaging, and two in particular are the Paris climate accords and the Iranian nuclear deal,” she said.

President BidenJoe BidenJan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Two House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms MORE rejoined the Paris climate accords with an executive order on his first day in office.

Cheney criticized the international agreement, which commits signatories to hitting environmental benchmarks in an effort to mitigate threats from climate change, as harming the American economy without requiring more stringent commitments from countries that are larger contributors to global pollution.

The Wyoming lawmaker also rejected moves by the Biden administration to engage with Iran in an effort to rejoin the Obama-era nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew in 2018. Cheney called for maintaining the “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions instituted during the Trump administration.

“The Iranian nuclear deal remains the single worst agreement the United States has ever entered into,” she said in her opening remarks. “We were right to withdraw and turn to a policy of maximum pressure with sanctions against the regime. Any effort by the Biden administration to return to the deal would be a mistake, and would signal to Iran that nuclear blackmail is effective.”

Yet Cheney called for bipartisan cooperation on confronting China, which she said is “one of the greatest threats our nation faces today,” and urged the Biden administration to adopt policy proposals laid out in a Republican task force report on confronting Beijing.

“Two-thirds of the proposals of the report are bipartisan,” she said. “We should come together in a bipartisan fashion to be clear-eyed in confronting the threat China poses.”

Cheney also voiced support for the Biden administration’s outreach toward NATO, calling it “very important” that the U.S. is “moving towards a reinvigorated relationship with NATO.” Biden, in remarks to the Munich Security Conference last week, said that the U.S. is “fully committed” to the NATO alliance and Article 5, the mutual defense provision of the treaty alliance.

Cheney also reiterated her opposition to the former Trump administration’s agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan to withdraw U.S. troops by May if certain benchmarks are reached. The Biden administration has said they don’t believe the Taliban have met their commitments under the deal and are reviewing the agreements signed by the previous administration.

“In Afghanistan, the notion — and I've been publicly opposed to this idea – that there's a negotiated peace that we can reach with the Taliban, that's just simply not the case,” Cheney said.

“The idea that we would base any of our deployment decisions on, you know, purported words from members of the Taliban, is highly irresponsible.”