Maybe Listening to Dick Cheney on Iraq Isn't a Good Idea

By:  Paul Waldman

Today, on the Senate floor, Harry Reid said: “Being on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is being on the right side of history.”

Reid was responding to Cheney’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal with his daughter Liz attacking the Obama administration’s policies in the Middle East and elsewhere, a piece that has already generated much discussion. The Cheneys have also formed an organization, the Alliance for a Strong America, to advocate Cheneyite policies (you can tell it’ll be strong and resolute, because in the announcement video, Dick is wearing a cowboy hat).

The Cheneys’ op ed and new organization capture a key facet of conservatives’ approach to the foreign policies of the Obama era: They ply their ideas from a strange place where history started in January 2009.

The Cheneys offer no discussion of the disastrous decision to invade Iraq in the first place (though they still surely believe the war was a great idea, they apparently realize most Americans don’t agree). But anything that happened afterward can only be Obama’s fault. They write, “Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace. Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.”

Yes, he “had only” to do that, and everything would have turned out fine. But who was it who signed the agreement mandating the removal of all American forces from Iraq by the end of 2011? It was George W. Bush. When the time arrived, the Maliki government was determined to get all American troops out, and refused to negotiate a new agreement without putting American troops at the mercy of the Iraqi justice system — something no American president would ever have accepted.

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