It’s no secret that Cheney is a staunch advocate for military intervention abroad and he makes no apologies for the Iraq war. It’s no secret that Paul prefers a more restrained approach and was an opponent of the Iraq war.
But the two men didn’t always disagree.
In a 1994 C-Span interview, speaking as the former secretary of defense under President George H.W. Bush, Cheney explained why U.S. forces didn’t march into Baghdad and take out Saddam Hussein during the Persian Gulf War:
Q: Do you think the U.S., or U.N. forces, should have moved into Baghdad?
Q: Why not?
A: Because if we’d gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn’t have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq.
Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place? That’s a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off…
Needless to say, the instability Cheney described that could happen with the removal of Saddam Hussein is pretty much what happened.
Addressing the current situation in Iraq in which the extremist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has gained a significant foothold, Sen. Rand Paul recently said last week during a Senate hearing (starting at 1:53):
“You know what? It might’ve been a little more stable when we had that awful guy Hussein who hated the Iranians. So, I’m not saying that I’m for having Hussein there, I’m just saying that geopolitically you had people somewhat at a standstill over there, and now you have a really confusing mess.”
So in 1994, Dick Cheney said removing Saddam Hussein would destabilize the region and Rand Paul has described how removing Saddam has destabilized the region.
If Dick Cheney did just form an organization to fight Rand Paul over foreign policy, in 1994 the former vice president would’ve been fighting himself.
Disclosure: I co-authored Senator Rand Paul’s 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington.