Former Vice President Dick Cheney sharply criticized President Barack Obama’s foreign policy in Iraq and Syria on Wednesday, calling on the president to order military actions to stop the spread of the Islamic State.
“I’m here to tell you that there’s a connection between these problems – between a disengaged president and some very volatile situations abroad,” Cheney said in a blistering speech titled “9/11 and the Future of U.S. Foreign Policy.”
Cheney’s speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington came hours before Obama plans to make a televised address to the nation from the White House to discuss the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
“In a few hours, we’ll hear what he has in mind for the terrorist onslaught currently in Iraq,” Cheney told the think tank audience. “We can hope for – and we should look for – signs of a forceful, bold and immediate strategy to defeat ISIS. We can say already, however, that such a plan would mark an abrupt and dramatic departure from the record thus far.”
Cheney said a “realistic strategy has to recognize that ISIS is a grave, strategic threat to the United States.”
“The situation is dire and defeating these terrorists will require immediate, sustained, simultaneous action across multiple fronts,” he said.
Outlining what he thinks Obama should do, Cheney said, “ISIS does not recognize a border between Syria and Iraq – so neither should we. We should immediately hit them in their sanctuaries, staging areas, command centers, and lines of communication wherever we find them.”
“We should provide significantly increased numbers of military trainers, special operations forces, an intelligence architecture, and air power to aid the Iraqi military and the Kurdish Peshmerga in their counteroffensive against ISIS,” he added.
Cheney also warned against a complete draw down of troops in Afghanistan.
“To avoid repeating President Obama’s arbitrary and hasty withdrawal of residual forces from Iraq – the tragic error that gave us a caliphate – we should halt the drawdown of our troops in Afghanistan,” he said. “The terror and chaos in Iraq today will only be replayed in Afghanistan if we abandon that country.”