President Donald Trump’s foreign policy is indistinguishable to that of former Democrat President Barack Obama’s, warns former Vice President Dick Cheney.
In front of an audience of about 200 top Republican donors and lawmakers on Monday at a closed-door retreat hosted by the American Enterprise Institute in Georgia, Cheney and Pence quarreled over policy issues, the Washington Posts reports.
In an unexpected move that blindsided his own senior officials, Trump in December pulled all U.S. troops out of Syria. The “full” and “rapid” withdrawal came amid key officials such as Syria special envoy James Jefferey signaled that U.S. policy was to stay in the country.
Trump announced his decision to pull the troops in a tweet.
We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
Cheney blasted Trump for his non-interventionist approach to U.S. military efforts in the Middle East.
The Trump administration’s 2018 decision to withdraw from Syria was made during “the middle of a phone call” Cheney said, warning the impromptu decision put the U.S. “into a situation when our friends and allies around the world that we depend upon are going to lack confidence in us.”
“I worry that the bottom line of that kind of approach is we have an administration that looks a lot more like Barack Obama than Ronald Reagan,” he said.
Pence reportedly dismissed the former vice president’s concerns and assured Trump is a “candid and transformational leader.”
Cheney also blasted Trump’s stance toward NATO. Trump demanding countries allocate more on their defense budgets, “feeds this notion on the part of our allies overseas, especially in NATO, that we’re not long for that continued relationship, that we’re looking eagerly to find ways where somebody else will pick up that tab.”
Cheney rebuked Trump’s decision to cancel military exercises with South Korea and expressed concerns over reports of the president’s plans to demand the Germans, Japanese and South Koreans to pay U.S. deployment costs, according to The Post.
Pence pushed back, explaining the Defense Department insists the administration’s decision to halt the bi-annual “war games” with South Korea “will not affect our readiness” in the region.
“We’re going to continue [to] train,” Pence said. “We’re going to continue to work closely with South Korea. We have a tremendous alliance there.”
Pence argued U.S. allies should step up to the plate and employ their own only military to assure global security, rather than rely on the United State’s military defense.
“I think there is a tendency by critics of the president and our administration to conflate the demand that our allies live up to their word and their commitments and an erosion in our commitment to the post-World War II order,” he said. “But we think it’s possible to demand that your allies do more to provide for the common defense of all of our nations and, at the same time, reaffirm our strong commitment — whether it be to the transatlantic alliance or to our allies across the Indo-Pacific.”
He added: “When the American people elected this president, they elected a president who expressed concern about American deployments around the world,” Pence said. “And they knew this was going to be a president that came and asked the fundamental questions about — you know, where are we deployed and do we really need to be asking men and women in uniform to be deployed in that part of the world?”
The contentious back and forth between Pence and Cheney showcases the ongoing tension between the more hawkish, Bush-era wing of the GOP and the more isolationist, “America-First” Trump wing.
Trump frequently blasted George W. Bush throughout his presidency for U.S. intervention in Iraq, repeatedly arguing “we should have never been there.”