Dick Cheney: Rand Paul An "Isolationist"


JON KARL, ABC NEWS: Now, Rand Paul, pointing to things like that, wrote in "The Wall Street Journal" also, "Many of those clamoring for military action now are the same people who made every false assumption imaginable about the cost, challenge and purpose of the Iraq War. They have been wrong for so long, why should we listen to him -- listen to them again?" your response?

FMR. VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: With all -- all due respect, John, I was a strong supporter then of going into Iraq, I'm a strong supporter now. Everybody knows what my position is. There's nothing to be argued about there.

But if 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. 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.

I think it's absolutely essential.

One of the things I worried about 12 years ago and that I worry about today is that there will be another 9/11 attack and that the next time, it'll be with weapons far deadlier than airline tickets and box cutters.

And when we have a situation developing in Pakistan, for example, where there are nuclear weapons, where supposedly that technology has been sold to the North Koreans, at the same time, the president announces the complete withdrawal from Afghanistan right next door, that we're -- we're missing the boat. We don't understand the nature of the threat and we're unwilling to deal with it.

KARL: Do you -- in your op-ed, you have a broader critique, which you're -- you're making now, as well, of the president's foreign policy. And you write, "President Obama seems determined to leave office ensuring that he has taken America down a notch."

In this op-ed, you also suggest the president is a -- a fool -- that was the word you used -- only a fool would -- would take the -- the approach he's taking in Iraq right now.

It almost seems like you're accusing the president of treason here, saying he's intentionally bringing America down a notch.

CHENEY: No, my reference didn't refer just to Iraq. It referred to the fact that we've left a big vacuum in the Middle East by our withdrawal from Iraq with no stay-behind agreement, by the commitment he made just a couple of weeks ago, that we're going to completely withdraw from Afghanistan with no stay-behind agreement.

We create a vacuum and it's being filled. And today, it's being filled by ISIS -- by Sisi (ph) from Syria. It's being filled by their attempt, obviously, to take over all of Iraq, but it's also being filled by places like Pakistan, where the Taliban have just launched a major attack on the Karachi airport.

The -- the scope of the problem, in part, is based upon an unwillingness by the president to recognize we have a problem. They're still living back in the day when they claimed we got bin Laden, the terrorism problem is solved.

That wasn't true then. It's even less true today. The threat is bigger than it's ever been. The danger of nuclear proliferation in the hands of terrorists is bigger than it's ever been. We need to dramatically reverse course on our defense budget. We are decimating the defense budget, not al Qaeda. We need to go back to a two war strategy, not the one war strategy that he's put in place.

We have 40 brigades in the United States Army, only four of them are combat ready. He is dramatically limiting the capability of future presidents to deal with crises by virtue of the policies he's taken.

Now, I don't intend any disrespect for the president, but I fundamentally disagree with him. 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.

KARL: On virtually everything you just mentioned, it seems you also have a debate within your own party. Rand Paul -- and many see him as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2016, given where he stands, again, in opposition to much of what you just talked about, could you support a Republican nominee, Rand Paul, for president?

CHENEY: I haven't picked a nominee yet. But one of the things that's right at the top of my list is whether or not the individual we nominate believes in a strong America, believes in a situation where the United States is able to provide the leadership in the world, basically, to maintain the peace and to take on the al Qaeda types wherever they show up.

Now, Rand Paul and -- by my standards, as I look at his -- his philosophy, is basically an isolationist. 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.

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