But that was about the only way in which she and our bumbling president are on the same page. Unlike Obama, who dithers, Cheney articulates a clear plan and clear goals: “We need limited air strikes and Special Forces on the ground to guide the air strikes. We need to be in there, right now, in fact yesterday, helping to fight and defeat ISIS. Right now, we’ve got to be very focused on how important it is to defeat ISIS. . . . We’ve got to be sure ISIS can’t create an al-Qaeda haven in the heart of the Middle East. It’s critically important that they be defeated now.”
Meanwhile, she disagrees vehemently with Obama’s repeated insistence that Maliki must go
as soon as possible, even while the ISIS offensive is seizing control of more and more of Iraq: “Don’t pressure Maliki too much right now, because it will force him even further into the hands of Iranians.” Instead, we need to help him defeat ISIS first. If we do this, “we’ll be able to have leverage with Maliki to say, ‘Look we’ve been able to help you beat back this threat,’” she says. “Then
we can have the conversation with him about reconstituting and restructuring the mix of the Iraqi government — after
eliminating this existential threat to Iraq and to Maliki himself.”
As usual, Cheney makes tremendous sense. With Obama’s disastrous policies ushering in tremendous troubles all over the world, it is the sort of sense that needs to be aired more fully and politically supported more effectively — hence the Cheneys’ new Alliance for a Strong America.
I asked Cheney what the group’s goals are and how it hopes to achieve them. She replies:
“Our goal is to be sort of a center of gravity for the view that American national security, number one, is critically important and, number two, that this requires a reversal of the policies of the last six years, along with a restoration of American power. We want to be a place that provides information to citizens and policymakers and candidates about our issues, to give people ammunition that they can use to engage in the debate and the discussion about a whole range of issues from foreign policy to the War on Terror and military spending. . . . We are also going to be an advocacy group and work on a grassroots level to build coalitions of people who care about these issues.
“Also, we want to make sure the Republican party maintains the mantle that has been so important in our modern history of being the party that cares deeply about a strong national defense. We feel it is very important that the Republican party not go down the path of isolationism. We are seeing a growing sense inside the party among certain people that we can be fine if we just come home and go about our business. But that would lead us down a path that would lead to more dangers, not fewer. . . .
“We obviously care deeply about making sure that whoever our nominee is in 2016 is somebody who understands and cares deeply about a strong national defense. . . . Right now, we’re very focused on maintaining a lean operation, a small staff. We want to make sure we are using the majority of our resources on getting the message out, not on overhead. We’re based in Wyoming but working nationally.”
And why, I asked her, does she feel such urgency about defense? She answers:
“I think that one of the most devastating statistics was one that General [Raymond] Odierno went public with last October: He said that out of 42 brigades in the U.S. Army, we have about four that are combat-ready. And that’s as we watch the threats grow to the United States: Islamic terrorists, a resurgent Russia, and China. As you watch across the board our adversaries and our enemies gaining strength, the president’s response has been to reduce our footprint in the world, reduce our military, walk away. . . . Certainly, with America weakening itself across the globe, that gives our enemies hope and terrifies our allies — and that’s where we are today.”
And that’s a situation that cannot last. Let the Left bemoan the return of Darth Vader — and his daughter — all they like, the Cheneys are right to raise the alarm, and to try to do something about it.
— Quin Hillyer is a contributing editor for National Review. Follow him on Twitter: @QuinHillyer.