Dick Cheney spoke to House Republicans on Tuesday about the need for military action in Iraq.
With President Obama poised to give a major speech on Wednesday about military action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Cheney spoke to the assembled Republican congressmen about the situation in the Middle East at their weekly caucus meeting. And while the GOP has been fiercely divided over foreign policy in recent years, Cheney didn’t wade into that debate, instead opting to pillory Obama in front of an audience giving him “rapt attention.”
According to Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana, Cheney said Obama “has actually done things that have supported the Muslim Brotherhood.” The former vice president then went on to name the Muslim Brotherhood as “the beginning of all the Islamist groups that we’re dealing with now like Hamas and ISIS.”
In Fleming’s account, Cheney said that by “facilitating the Muslim Brotherhood…our policies have been exactly opposite to where they should be.”
Fleming’s description of the meeting was echoed by Rep. Peter King of New York, who said that while Cheney didn’t criticize “the Rand Paul types” in the GOP—a group that King often derides—he did call for “comprehensive” action that is even more aggressive than what Obama has in mind.
The question, though, is whether Cheney’s remarks will have any impact on Republicans as Obama’s speech looms. While Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois expressed his hope that Cheney’s message will “stick” with fellow Republicans whom he described as “having a creep towards” isolationism, there’s still a question of how enthusiastic the GOP will be for a new war in Iraq. King, who doesn’t believe a vote on military action against ISIS is even necessary, noted that many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle—particularly those who called for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq—would be put in an awkward place politically if a vote took place.
It’s also an election year, and as outgoing Republican congressman Jack Kingston of Georgia, who wants Congress to vote on military action, told the New York Times, it’s easier to let Obama “just bomb the place and tell [Congress] about it later.” After all, it would allow Republicans to “denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.”