Rose Soft-Pedals Obama Talking Points, Asks Cheney: 'Give the President Some Credit For Trying'

On Tuesday night’s edition of his PBS show, Charlie Rose interviewed former Vice President Dick Cheney and pushed him to “give the president some credit for trying” to negotiate for a contingent of American troops to stay in Iraq after the status of forces agreement expired in 2011. 

Cheney reminded Rose that, in his mind, Iraq “was in pretty good shape” when he and then-President George W. Bush left office. From there, he said that there “was no follow-up” on the part of the Obama administration for a residual presence to give the Iraqi military “intelligence capabilities, some air assets, training and so forth that would allow them to maintain control over their own sovereign territory.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]

It was then Rose had this exchange with Cheney: 

ROSE: But don’t you give the President some credit for trying?

CHENEY: Hm, not really. On the stay behind force?

ROSE: Yes. 

CHENEY: The history to it, Charlie, was the military originally recognized and to between – recommended somewhere between 18 and 20,000 forces to stay behind. They were told no, they couldn't have it. So they went back at 10,000 and they were told no they couldn't have it and finally they ended up the White House signing off to three, three and-a-half thousand. The follow on to that was the, there was never any success to the status of forces agreement. The agreement under which we have forces remain in a country and operate, protects our soldiers from being prosecuted. 

ROSE: But that there was a negotiation is my point. 

CHENEY: One brief negotiation

Later, Rose defended the president’s move to leave no residual American troops there. 

When Cheney suggested Obama was at the root of why negotiations failed, Rose suggested it was: 

ROSE: Or because he believed that wars there, the long two wars there, you know, had not been an American interest. He wanted to extract us from there and understood the great sacrifice that Americans had made but that he wanted, in a sense, to build new relationships.


See the relevant transcript transcribed below.

PBS

Charlie Rose

June 24, 2014

11:04 p.m. Eastern

 

CHARLIE ROSE: Let's talk about Iraq first of all. 

DICK CHENEY: Okay. 

ROSE: Because that has brought to a fore for this whole question and what to do there because it is a very, very dangerous situation there as you and everybody else, however you feel about the Obama administration. What do you think was right and what turned out to be wrong about the policies of the administration you served with George W. Bush? 

CHENEY: Well, we can debate, spend a whole hour on the debate over that, as you said at the outset, I was a strong advocate of going into Iraq. I think that was the right decision then and I still believe that today. When we left Iraq, when we left the government, when we left the White House, Iraq was in pretty good shape. We had been through a lot, it had taken longer than anticipated, a higher level of violence. Without question, there were things that we had not anticipated in the run up to Iraq, but what we found was that with the surge in 07 and 08, with the change in strategy moving into counterinsurgency strategy with Dave Petraeus as the Commander, Ryan Crocker as the Ambassador by the end of 08 when we left office Iraq was in pretty good shape. We thought what was needed was to continue with a stay-behind force so they'd have intelligence capabilities, some air assets, training and so forth that would allow them to maintain control over their own sovereign territory. That's what did not happen obviously and we're in the state where we're now because there was no follow up. 

ROSE: But don’t you give the President some credit for trying?

CHENEY: Hm, not really. On the stay behind force?

ROSE: Yes. 

CHENEY: The history to it, Charlie, was the military originally recognized and to between – recommended somewhere between 18 and 20,000 forces to stay behind. They were told no, they couldn't have it. So they went back at 10,000 and they were told no they couldn't have it and finally they ended up the White House signing off to three, three and-a-half thousand. The follow on to that was the, there was never any success to the status of forces agreement. The agreement under which we have forces remain in a country and operate, protects our soldiers from being prosecuted. 

ROSE: But that there was a negotiation is my point. 

CHENEY: One brief negotiation. 

ROSE: The Iraqis set standards that the United States did not believe they could meet having to do with immunity. 

CHENEY: We have 40 of those agreements around the world. There's always debate over sovereignty, the extent to which U.S. forces are going to infringe upon the sovereignty of the host country. Often times that gets to be a key issue because it's an important key issue because it’s an important political issue for the host country but you get it worked out.

(.....)

11:46 p.m. Eastern

CHENEY: Well, and the one, I think, the one who gave up negotiations is Barack Obama. I don't think he wanted to see troops behind in Iraq for political reasons. 

ROSE: Or because he believed that wars there, the long two wars there, you know, had not been an American interest. He wanted to extract us from there and understood the great sacrifice that Americans had made but that he wanted, in a sense, to build new relationships. 

CHENEY: I think he was wrong. 

ROSE: Okay. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is a news analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division