Former Representative Liz Cheney was back in the news a few months back, filling the niche she has carved out for herself – that is, criticizing fellow conservatives.
Cheney, who became something of a martyred figure through her efforts to rebuke former President Donald Trump, is now making headlines for rebuking Governor Ron DeSantis.
Specifically, Cheney said that DeSantis was “wrong” for saying that the Russo-Ukraine War was not in the “vital national interests” of the US but was rather a “territorial dispute” amongst European nations.
Liz Cheney Takes on Ron DeSantis
“This is not a ‘territorial dispute,’” Cheney wrote in a statement to The New York Times. “The Ukrainian people are fighting for their freedom. Surrendering to Putin and refusing to defend freedom makes America less safe.”
Cheney, for example, once criticized Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying the praise would help the US’s “enemies.”
Cheney also said Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene was “against freedom” for attempting to end US aid to Ukraine. Cheney even has a nickname for Republicans who are not gung-ho about supporting Ukraine: the “Putin wing of the GOP.”
Cheney’s stance on the Russo-Ukraine War? Ukraine should not give up an inch of territory to Russia.
“Weakness is provocative and American officials who advocate this type of weakness are Putin’s greatest weapon. Abandoning Ukraine would make broader conflict, including with China and other American adversaries, more likely.”
A few points about Ms. Cheney
I’d like to provide some context to Cheney’s comments for the purpose of degrading her credibility. First, Cheney recognized by now that her best bet politically is to lean into criticism of the GOP.
The reason being: liberals love it.
Liberals, who are always on the lookout to amplify the voices of conservatives willing to criticize conservatives, have made Liz Cheney into something of a martyr after she denounced Trump, and was then trounced in her congressional reelection bid.
Cheney knows her best angle, politically and professionally, is to keep appeasing liberals. And since liberals are weirdly enthusiastic about supporting Ukraine, criticizing the occasional Republican (i.e., DeSantis) who advocates restraint is a political no-brainer for Cheney.
Second, Liz Cheney is the progeny of America’s most relevant war hawk: former Vice President Dick Cheney. Vice President Cheney’s most hawkish deed was instigating the Iraq War under the pretext that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (he did not) and had formal ties with Al Qaeda (he did not).
The Cheney-promoted US invasion of Iraq was one of America’s most disastrous foreign policy decisions…ever. So while Liz Cheney is not Dick Cheney, it’s a little too close for my tastes; and any time a Cheney pushes to support war, my reflex is to oppose.
A few points about Ms. Cheney’s argument
Cheney’s statement to The New York Times was exactly what you’d expect. She rolled out a familiar lineup of platitudes, meant to justify US assistance in Ukraine without leaving room to argue.
If we don’t assist Ukraine, America will be less safe.
If we don’t assist Ukraine, it will help our enemies.
If we don’t assist Ukraine, we are against freedom.
If we don’t assist Ukraine, it will help China
It’s standard fare. It’s the non-specific, rote, tired, unimaginative standard fare that is typically used to justify foreign intervention.
But he is correct. By definition, the Russo-Ukraine War is a territorial dispute. You can assign greater meaning to the conflict if you like but the conflict is by definition territorial. And no, the US does not have vital strategic interests in the Ukraine. Certainly, these points are debatable. But let’s not place much weight on the platitudinal words of Dick Cheney’s daughter.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.