Unbelievably, former Vice President Dick Cheney, after being wrong on every foreign policy issue for more than a decade, has again crawled out of his Wyoming cave and begun outrageously sniping at Barack Obama’s performance in foreign policy. Although I am certainly no fan of Obama’s overall performance as president in the second edition of my book Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, due out in the fall, I rank Obama as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, he is still cleaning up after George W. Bush in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places in the book, Bush the Younger gets an even worse score than Obama. In fact, Obama’s foreign policy, despite all of the recent criticism, is really the only shining light in an otherwise dismal presidency. So far, he has the best foreign policy record since Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. Although those two chief executives managed to stay out of most foreign imbroglios, Obama has stayed out of some and managed to limit US involvement in others.
Vice President Cheney urged Obama on in Iraq while calling Rand Paul an “isolationist.” Like John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and Bill Kristol, Cheney believes that if you are not looking for new wars to fight and countries to bomb, you are weak or an isolationist. All of these jingoists are taking advantage of hysteria in the American media over the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS group’s gains in Iraq to warn of a new terrorist haven in Iraq, which allegedly could bring attackers again to America’s shores.
However, Obama correctly pointed out that ruthless organizations, such as ISIS, usually face a backlash among even those in their own ethno-sectarian group. The roots of ISIS go back to the creation of al Qaeda in Iraq as a response to George W. Bush’s unnecessary invasion and occupation of the country. And Gen. David Petraeus helped bail Bush out in Iraq by taking advantage of al Qaeda’s brutality to turn more moderate Sunnis against the group, thus lowering the violence until US forces could extricate themselves from that nation. The bribes that Petraeus passed out to these moderate Sunnis didn’t hurt either. And in the latest unpleasantness, Petraeus seems to be siding with Obama against Cheney and the hawks by saying that any US military action should be contingent on the Iraqi Shi’ite government including other groups. Otherwise, Petraeus implied, the United States will just be taking sides in another of Iraq’s ethno-sectarian civil wars.