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Monday, October 10, 2011

 10:55 AM 

Cheney: Leaving Afghanistan a 'dangerous proposition'

Despite increasing calls for an end to U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan -- including from some corners of the Republican Party -- former Vice President Dick Cheney instead says the country should be in for the long haul, suggesting a commitment like the one that has kept American troops in Europe since the end of World War II.

In an Oct. 7 interview with WisPolitics.com, Cheney said the American military should remain in the country until the Afghan people can provide for their own security, arguing the U.S. has already seen the consequences of leaving that strategically important country. Oct. 7 was the 10th anniversary of the United States invading Afghanistan.

"That is a dangerous proposition, partly because we saw what happened once before when nobody was able to establish control inside Afghanistan," Cheney said, recalling the instability that lead to the Taliban's takeover of the country in the 1990s.

In addition, the former vice president said the region is too volatile to abandon altogether -- even if Afghanistan stabilizes -- saying the threat of nuclear or biological weapons proliferation remains a grave threat.

"We have been in Europe since 1945, and in Japan. Those have been forward operating bases that have allowed us to maintain peace and order in those parts of the world, and I don't think we ought to totally turn our backs on Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq," Cheney said. "I don't think you need to maintain large forces there, but I do think we ought to consult with our military and figure out what we do need."

That view runs contrary to some of the isolationist views in the current GOP presidential field, which Cheney does not support, saying, "I disagree with it."

Cheney also said President Obama was justified in carrying out a strike that killed an American-born Muslim cleric and terrorism organizer in Yemen, despite arguments from some that the order violated the due process rights of Anwar al-Awlaki.

But he said the president should reconsider his previous criticism of the Bush administration with regard to terrorism: "They can't have it both ways."

"If that had been a law enforcement operation, there are questions of due process that enter in," Cheney said. "On the other hand, if you think of it as part of a war ... then I think the president's fully justified in ordering a strike that takes out senior leadership on the other side.

"The problem the administration's got is they can't decide whether it's a war or criminal problem. ... They didn't want to say it's a war, but yet they're now adopting tactics that certainly imply that it is exactly that."

In the interview, Cheney also discussed his time in Wisconsin, his initial foray into politics and his views of Wisconsin's current crop of GOP leaders.

Read more from the interview


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