Cheney blasts Obama administration's Mideast policy

Former US vice president: Our allies not longer trust us, our adversaries no longer fear us.

Dick Cheney 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Dick Cheney 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
TORONTO – Former US vice president Dick Cheney criticized the Obama administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East at the Toronto Global Forum on Thursday.
Cheney, speaking about energy and international security issues at the conference, said he had a “worrisome concern” regarding current threats of terrorism in the world.
“I used to believe that was a major threat. I still believe it is a major threat today,” Cheney said. “If anything, it’s worse today than it was on 9/11.
We’ve seen in the Middle East especially a set of developments in recent months... of the reassertion or reenergizing of al-Qaida.”
Cheney said the Obama administration has made efforts to convince the public that terrorism is no longer an issue.
“The problem’s growing in terms of the number, the size and the diversity of fundamental Islamist terrorists,” he said.
“The geographical areas where they can find a home – a place for training, a place for sanctuary – is dramatically expanded and the problem of proliferation of nuclear weapons is probably greater than it’s ever been.”
Iran’s development of nuclear weapons would have a ripple effect on the region, according to Cheney.
“No question in my mind that if the Iranians have nuclear weapons, the others in the region will, for their own defensive capabilities, want nuclear weapons as well,” he said. “I think we’re headed down a road that will be very dangerous.”
Cheney said Obama has done little to instill confidence in its allies, such as Israel, when it comes to dealing with security issues in the Middle East.
“Our allies no longer believe us and trust us. Our adversaries no longer fear us, he said.
“Shortly after Obama met with Netanyahu and Israel...
and drew a red line for the Iranians and said ‘you will not develop nuclear weapons,’ he cut the naval employment in half in the United States.
Nobody believes [Obama] in terms of his comments and statements about the willingness of the US to stand by our friends and allies.”
The Toronto Global Forum, presented by the International Economic Forum of the Americas, took place October 30 and 31. This year marked the seventh annual installment of the conference, which dealt with the theme of “globalization at a crossroads.”
Over 70 speakers from Japan, France, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Russia, the US and Canada joined to discuss economic issues facing the public and private sectors both locally and abroad.
Cheney’s keynote speech followed an address by Ed Fast, the Canadian minister of international trade, who called the tentative free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union – unveiled on October 18 – “the most comprehensive agreement the world has ever seen.”
Fast said the deal would become the world’s “21st century gold standard agreement” as it deals with issues concerning intellectual property, government procurement, regulatory cooperation, environment, labor and sustainability.
Unlike this tentative arrangement, Canada’s free trade agreement with Israel, which has been in place since 1997, is far less inclusive, he noted.
Fast said the government is working with Israel to modernize the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement in order to expand its reach.
“Any time you remove tariff and non-tariff barriers, it improves trade flow, so that’s certainly the case between Canada and Israel. The first agreement we struck between us was a first generation agreement,” Fast said.
He compared the deal to the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico, which came into effect three years earlier, calling the deals “not that ambitious.”
“We’re now looking to take that to a new level and I’m looking forward to having those discussions in the weeks and months ahead,” Fast said.