“We are, as a matter of empirical fact and undeniable history, the greatest force for good the world has ever known…the exceptional nation,” writes former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz in their new book, Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America, out Tuesday. But according to the duo, something is getting in the way of our greatness: President Obama.
“In the seventy years since World War II,” they continue, “no American president has done more damage to our nation’s defenses than Barack Obama.”
Below are 13 instances in which the Cheneys use a book release as an occasion to get worked up, double down and blame Obama.
- The Iraq War? Still a good idea.
As the Cheneys explain it, going to war with Saddam’s Iraq was a no-brainer. It was the most likely place for terrorists to gain access to weapons, and the administration had a heightened obligation after 9/11 to do everything possible to contain terrorists. “Those who say the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a mistake [like Obama],” the Cheneys write, “are essentially saying we would be better off if Saddam Hussein were still in power.”
- Obama’s incompetence probably helped ISIS gain power.
Of more concern to the Cheneys than whether invading Iraq was a mistake is Obama’s withdrawal. “President Obama’s decision not to leave any U.S. forces behind created the space and the conditions for the rebirth of al Qaeda in Iraq, as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS,” they write. “The terrorists President Obama described as the ‘jayvee team’ would soon control more resource and territory than any other terrorist group in history.”
- We should definitely not leave Afghanistan again.
“Though we have seen progress there,” they write, “President Obama’s decision to deploy 25 percent fewer surge forces than his commanders requested, coupled with his decision to withdraw them early to meet a U.S. political timetable, means that there are still safe havens in Afghanistan that will be exploited by America’s enemies if we walk away.” The Cheneys argue that America must reverse direction and maintain its presence in the country until Afghan national security forces are truly able to secure the nation. “Walking away again,” they write, “would be the height of recklessness.”
- People should stop picking on the NSA.
In the aftermath of 9/11, the then director of the National Security Agency asked President Bush for additional intelligence capabilities, to which Bush readily agreed. Despite the controversial revelations that followed—namely, the leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the agency’s many surveillance programs—the Cheneys still insist Bush “imposed tight conditions” to ensure the programs didn’t violate citizens’ civil liberties. “Those who oppose the program,” they add, “will be accountable for explaining to the American people why they fought to make it more difficult for the United States government to effectively track the communications—and therefore the plans—of terrorists inside the United States.”
- The Cheneys aren’t saying Edward Snowden is a Russian spy—but they’re also not not saying that.
“The ‘reset’ with Russia [has] failed,” the Cheneys write, pointing to “Russian president Vladimir Putin welcom[ing] Edward Snowden to Moscow, [and] granting asylum to the traitor responsible for one of the greatest thefts of American intelligence in history.” They add, “Whether Snowden was a Russian operative at the time he stole the U.S. secrets is the subject of debate, although it is hard to conceive of his landing in Moscow as a coincidence. What is clear is that he is fully Putin’s tool now.”
- The U.S. shouldn’t even consider closing Guantanamo.
As the Obama administration explores closing arguably the most tangible vestige of the Bush administration, the Cheneys strike a familiar note: “The facility at Guantanamo Bay was and remains safe, secure, humane, and necessary.” They continue: “In efforts led by the State Department, some detainees were released during the George W. Bush administration. President Obama has accelerated releases, even though by the time he took office, the detainees left in Guantanamo were the worst of the worst, men whose home countries often refused to take them back.”
- Whatever the Senate Intelligence Committee says, enhanced interrogation works.
In December, 2014, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a long-awaited report assessing the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program. Among its many findings, the report concluded that “ the CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.” But the Cheneys maintain that “it works.” They add: “No moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things.”
- But if you think torture was our policy, it’s all Obama’s fault.
As the Obama administration fights court rulings ordering the release of thousands of images depicting detainee abuse that go beyond Abu Ghraib in both location and brutality, the Cheneys argue it was actually Obama who made detainee abuse under the Bush administration appear to be policy. “As he issued a call to avoid humiliating terrorists who slaughter innocents, President Obama also perpetuated a falsehood that America’s critics were peddling—that what happened at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad represented official policy, that it had something to do with or was related to America’s enhanced interrogation program.”
- Benghazi was an Al-Qaeda attack and Obama lied about it.
The Cheneys contend that in the middle of an election cycle, especially one in which Obama had been touting the progress made combating Al-Qaeda, the president could not admit there was an Al-Qaeda attack on the anniversary of September 11. Instead, they write, “administration officials misled the American people about what had happened, attempting to cast the attacks as spontaneous uprisings in response to an anti-Islamic Internet video, though there was no evidence of such a claim.”
- Syria has been an abject failure, and that too is all Obama’s fault.
In 2012, Obama drew a red line regarding Syria; the use of chemical weapons would “change [his] calculus.” But the following year, when Syria did cross that line, Obama vacillated and ultimately failed to act. This, the Cheneys argue, irrevocably hurt the reputation of the U.S. It was used as ISIS propaganda, they say, “to convince Syrians that they couldn’t count on the United States.” The actions the Obama administration did take, however, didn’t fare any better. “The $500 million program to train Syrian rebels is a national embarrassment, having produced, according to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, sixty vetted candidates,” the Cheneys write. “America and its allies are not winning.”
- Also, the Iran deal will lead to all-out nuclear war, which will also be all Obama’s fault.
The first problem with Obama’s Iran deal, the Cheneys say, is Obama entered the negotiations apologizing for failing to engage with Iran. “In his view, there wasn’t any moral distinction between the way America and Iran had operated on the world stage,” they write. But the most damaging concession of all, according to the Cheneys, is the administration’s willingness to allow Iran to continue enriching uranium. “Munich led to World War II,” they write. “The Obama agreement will lead to a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and more than likely, the first use of a nuclear weapon since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
- Cyberwarfare threatens to challenge our competitive edge.
“For the last seventy years, the United States has had no peers in terms of the power of our military,” the Cheneys write. “The advent of cyberwarfare and the technological advances being made by our adversaries threaten to change that. “Referencing breaches like the Office of Personnel Management hack, the Cheneys argue, “we must impose significant costs on China for engaging in cyberespionage and other forms of cyberattack.”
- If China overtakes us, it will probably also be Obama’s fault.
Though the Cheney’s book is filled with the threats America faces, they argue no challenge is greater than the one posed by China. “While we’ve been undertaking massive [military] cuts, China has been building the military forces necessary to become a global power,” they write. “Their defense spending increased more than 12 percent between 2013 and 2014, and with the exception of 2010, has increased every year since 1989 by double digits.” They add, “The misguided cuts being made now will have long-lasting negative effects on the nation.”