Clash of the Vices: Cheney Questions Pence On Trump’s Foreign Policy

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In a behind-closed-doors conversation put on for the benefit of an American Enterprise Institute retreat at Sea Island, Georgia, Vice President Mike Pence and former Vice President Dick Cheney got into what sources say was a “vigorous back-and-forth” about the legitimacy of President Trump’s foreign policy platform. Cheney, whose support for a strong foreign military presence is no secret, sharply questioned Pence about Trump’s policies, suggesting at one point that the president’s platform was more similar to Obama’s than Ronald Reagan’s.

A transcript of the conversation was leaked to the media. Here are some of the excerpts published by The Washington Post:

“We’re getting into a situation when our friends and allies around the world that we depend upon are going to lack confidence in us,” said Cheney at one point.

“I worry that the bottom line of that kind of an approach is we have an administration that looks a lot more like Barack Obama than Ronald Reagan,” he said at another.

Cheney said that he was concerned about Trump’s pressure on our NATO allies, saying that it “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 the tab.”

For his part, Pence was respectful of the former vice president while maintaining a strong posture of defense for Trump’s approach to foreign policy. He was particularly forceful in defending the president’s decision to bring troops home from Syria and Afghanistan, telling Cheney that these decisions were perfectly in line with what he’d promised the American people on the campaign trail.

“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? It should come as no surprise to anyone: This president is skeptical of foreign deployments, and only wants American forces where they need to be.”

While the media is sure to have some fun poking at the continued cracks in the Republican ideological foundation, the truth is that we would expect nothing else from an avowed neocon like Cheney. The ascendance of “Trumpism” was, in large part, a rejection of the globalist mindset that dominated the Bush years. It would have come as more of a shock to see AEI, Cheney, and the rest of the Republican old guard praising Trump’s foreign policy to high heavens. It is, in many ways, a direct right turn from the military interventionism that Bush, Cheney, Kristol, et al, championed for two decades.

We do wonder from time to time how much of a “true believer” Pence is when it comes to the Trump agenda, but whether or not he harbors private disagreements with the boss’s platform, he’s nothing if not loyal. Not sure we’d be all that thrilled to see him take the baton, but as a right-hand man, he’s not bad at all.