Former Vice President Dick Cheney accused the Obama administration of bribing the “devil” — Iran — with “goodies,” for nothing in return, as the Middle East moves further into instability amid a global glut of oil.
The White House should continue to use “force or the threat of force” in the Middle East as past presidents did rather than prop up the United States’ enemies, the hawkish Cheney said Thursday at the Argus Americas Crude Summit in Houston.
The U.S. nuclear accord with Iran will allow the Middle Eastern power to reap benefits from exporting its oil, as well as drive down already low global oil prices. At the same time, Iran still yells “death to America” and advocated wiping Israel off the face of the Earth, Cheney said.
“They’re still the world’s worst sponsor of terror,” Cheney said. “We’re giving them lots of goodies that they wanted. They’ve paid no price at all. They’re thumbing their nose at us.”
If anything, a stronger Iran will push its Middle Eastern enemies to develop nuclear weapons, he argued.
Cheney said the U.S. should get more involved with energy diplomacy to weaken its enemies. Oil demand is not going away, he said, so the industry will eventually rebound.
“There’s going to have a be a major readjustment at some point going forward. It may take awhile,” the former Halliburton CEO said.
He praised the lifting of the decades-oil ban on oil exports in December, and he also touted the exporting of liquefied natural gas. He said the U.S. should export more LNG to Europe to compete with Russia.
“We ought to be able to compete in that market,” he said, “and put the screws to the Russians.”
At the same time, Cheney criticized Obama for the administration’s stance against coal and fossil fuels.
“I think this administration is bound and determined to do everything they can to cut out not just coal…but fossil fuels in general,” Cheney said.
Technological advancements like hydraulic fracturing, more widely known as fracking, have made the U.S. much more energy independent, he said, and ongoing technology breakthroughs will help U.S. oil and gas companies eventually thrive again with new efficiencies and cost reductions.
Climate change is a legitimate concern, Cheney acknowledged, but it shouldn’t mean shutting down the nation’s coal-fired power plants.
“I don’t think climate change is the biggest threat we face. I think it’s a problem. I think it’s something we ought to spend some time on,” he said.
But the importance of the energy sector to economy and the need to uphold the nation’s standard of living “cannot be denied.”
“It (energy) is the lifeblood of the economy,” Cheney said.
Looking forward, Cheney advocated for the destruction, rather than the containment, of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. He said Obama has “sent signals of weakness” to the Middle East, China and Russia through military reductions and withdrawals. He said the next president will need to fix such problems.
Cheney refused to endorse any Republican for the nomination, but he warned against isolationism. He admitted some of that isolation sentiment grew from his and President George W. Bush’s wars.
“There was a period of war weariness. People got tired of our involvement in places like Iraq and Afghanistan,” Cheney said. “That’s true, but it’s a very different kind of war (against terror) than we’ve had before … It’s very important that we resist the urge of isolationism.”