Former US Vice President Dick CheneyMore than five years after leaving office, former US Vice President Dick Cheney sees the world in bad shape, especially the Middle East, and he blames President Obama (again) for most of it.
Crises in Syria, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Ukraine and elsewhere, nuclear capabilities of Iran soon, rapid spread of terrorism: “I don’t like what I see happening”, Cheney said at a lunch hosted by Politico Magazine at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on Monday.
For Cheney, Obama with his lackluster leadership is the prime suspect responsible for this mess. “He has created a situation in which our friends in the region are scared to death”, Cheney said, quoting Israeli and Arab “friends I have known for 25 years.”
Also speaking were Cheney’s wife Lynne and his daughter Liz. Just minutes into the conversation, things got nasty in the packed ballroom.
Protesters disrupted the on-stage event, shouting that Cheney needed to be held accountable for the war in Iraq.
“Dick Cheney — war criminal!” one woman shouted, holding a pink sign and handcuffs. The moderator tried to move on, but the woman continued shouting. “You destroyed Iraq, you’ll destroy this country!” and “Dick Cheney should be arrested!”
The woman, who belonged to the anti-war group Code Pink, was eventually escorted out by security agents. But just minutes later, other activists sitting in the audience repeated her protest.
Despite these awkward moments, the Cheneys stuck to their talking points during the discussion.
The former Vice President defended the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, calling it “absolutely the right thing to do”. President Obama inherited a stable situation in that country from the Bush administration, but his desire for a full withdrawal of US troops has led to the situation today, Cheney said.
Cheney weighed in heavily on that decision by Obama, deriding him for believing he “can go in and declare the war is over.”
“I don’t think Obama ever had any intention of leaving anybody behind,” he added, saying that he thought Obama wasn’t fully committed to a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq given his desire to get all troops out.