Tags: cheney | McChrystal | obama

Liz Cheney: McChrystal Should be Praised

Tuesday, 06 Oct 2009 04:03 PM

By David A. Patten

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Rising Republican star Liz Cheney said Tuesday that top Afghanistan commander Gen. David McChrystal should not be "trashed" for providing a report and troop request that the president appears reluctant to accept.

Cheney, an attorney and former deputy assistant secretary of state, and daughter of former Bush administration Vice President Dick Cheney. She addressed the administration's apparent policy impasse on MSNBC's Morning Joe program.

"I'm not sure it's ever happened before … at least the recent history of our nation at war, when we've got a general on the ground whose saying, 'Here's what I need to win,' and the secretary of defense and the White House are saying, 'Don't tell us. Don't send the request in,'" Cheney said.

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It has been more than 14 months since then-candidate Obama declared Afghanistan "the central front" in the war on terror, and the president has yet to declare his strategy there. He is meeting with advisers throughout the week to discuss the best approach.

Host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, suggested former President Bush ignored generals' requests for more troops in 2002 and 2003.

"Absolutely not," Cheney replied. "Frankly throughout the entire course of the war in Iraq, we heard the president, 'If my generals say we need more troops we'll send more troops in.'

"And when [President Bush] decided to send more troops in, in the surge, he had to convince the chairman and the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that that was the right approach.

"But here you've got a general who was put in place to carry out the president's strategy. And he's saying, 'Yes sir, and if you want me to do that effectively, here's what I need.' And the White House is saying, 'No, no, no, no, no, we don't want to hear it.'"

Cheney added, "I think it's very important that people look at the facts here and not just trash Gen. McChrystal."

Top White House and Pentagon officials have signals to McChrystal to stop speaking publicly about Afghanistan, and McChrystal has agreed. That ignited the left-leaning blogosphere, which has suggested McChrystal is pursuing his own agenda and undermining the president.

Columnist and Morning Joe sidekick Mike Barnicle interrupted Cheney repeatedly, but was unable to catch her in an inconsistency.

"What do you think Liz, we have just one meeting about how many troops to send because someone sends up a troop request, he needs another 150,000 troops, so let's just have one meeting for an hour about this?" Barnicle demanded.

Cheney's response: "No, I think actually the president should have been spending a lot more time on it than he has spent," a pointed reference to the recent revelations that the president has only met once face-to-face with McChrystal – aboard Air Force One in Copenhagen following Obama's ill-fated, high-profile attempt to bring the 2016 Summer Olympics to Chicago.

Barnicle brought up Gen. Eric Shinseki, a four-star general who disagreed with the Bush administration over troop-strength requirements and was retired after 38 years of military service.

"What did Gen. Shinseki do?" Barnicle asked. "He said in a Senate Committee -- "

"I think it would be terrific if Gen. McChrystal got to sit in front of a Senate committee, frankly," Cheney said, referring to Defense Secretary Robert Gates' refusal to allow McChrystal to testify to Congress before Obama's new policy has been announced.

Barnicle charged: "Gen. Shinseki sat in front of a Senate committee and suggested the number of troops being sent to Iraq were woefully inadequate. And about two weeks later, he was gone."

Cheney's reply: "The difference was this general, Gen. McChrystal, is actually implementing the strategy the president has told them to implement. So you've got a strategy the president has put in place. Now Gen. Shinseki was talking about dong a different strategy, not carrying out what the commander in chief has asked for…. The commander in chief has asked this general to carry out a strategy. He said, 'Yes sir, here's what I need.' And now he's being trashed for it. So let's look at what's going on in Afghanistan. And let's all hope, as I know we all do, that the president and the White House will make the right decision on this.

Scarborough said Obama's limited interaction with his top military commander in Afghanistan has been "pretty pathetic on the White House's part."

Cheney added she was sad to see Chicago lose its Olympic bid "because I think it wasn't just an embarrassment for President Obama, but an embarrassment for America.

"You know American prestige is something you've got to preserve, that you've got to hold for really important things," Cheney said. "And this was a situation in which frankly I think we wasted it. I think American prestige clearly was diminished by the fact that the president made the trip personally, he lobbied personally, and then we lost so badly. So I don't think it's a good thing to see American prestige wasted, to see it embarrassed like that."

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