Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney

This Feb. 18, 2010 file photo shows Former Vice President Dick Cheney hugs his daughter, Liz Cheney, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and onetime U.S. Senate candidate Liz Cheney penned a Wall Street Journal editorial published Tuesday accusing President Obama of abandoning Iraq, the first of many collaborations expected from the father-daughter duo.

The Cheneys have formed the Alliance for a Strong America, a 501(c)(4) organization that Liz Cheney said will release policy papers and host public events on international affairs topics -- such as what the U.S. should do in Ukraine or how the U.S. should begin the process of defeating al-Qaida -- at its website, www.strongeramerica.com.

“We really want to be a center of gravity, and we want to give people ammunition on these issues -- whether it’s voters, whether it’s candidates, whether it’s policymakers -- really be a place where people can come to get information to help them make a case and help make sure people recognize at the end of the day, our security relies on American strength and power around the world,” Liz Cheney said in an interview Wednesday with the Star-Tribune.

The organization will advocate for policies to restore American power and pre-eminence, argue the role American power must play to defeat a broad array of threats, restore and strengthen America’s military and ensure national security issues remain a part of national debate, according to the alliance’s website.

The Huffington Post described the effort as anti-Obama. The Daily Beast said it appealed to fear. A Washington Post blogger noted the website did not offer an explanation for the decision to invade Iraq in the first place, which occurred during the George W. Bush administration, when Dick Cheney was vice president.

The alliance has been established in Wyoming and will be based in the Cowboy State, Liz Cheney said.

The former vice president is the chairman. Liz Cheney is the president. Kara Ahern, who was Liz Cheney’s campaign manager during her senatorial race, which ended in January, is the executive director. They will hire a policy director, she said.

For now, the alliance will not have office space in Jackson or Wilson, the Teton County town the alliance’s website describes as her home. Liz Cheney said work can be done over the Internet to keep overhead low.

Liz Cheney doesn’t expect to have any fundraising events in Jackson or Wilson. But the alliance is accepting donations online.

Liz Cheney said it’s important for Americans to elect a president in 2016 who understands the importance of a strong national defense. But she didn’t limit her criticism to Democrats.

“I think you’ve got people in the Republican Party today, certainly, who are advocating positions that sound like isolationism,” she said. “We just can’t afford that. We’ve got to be in a position where people have learned the lessons of how dangerous isolationism has been in the past.”

The organization will mostly be dedicated to education and advocacy, Liz Cheney said.

“We will abide by the rules of a 501(c)(4), which means a certain percentage of the work we do can be advocacy of candidates,” she said. “But we really have focused on our concern of what is happening from a national security perspective in terms of this president’s policies as well as just making sure that voters are educated.”

Liz Cheney believes the U.S. should act in Iraq, which is experiencing an al-Qaida-inspired insurgency called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

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“If I were in charge right now, I would put someone like Ryan Crocker, the last ambassador to Iraq, on a plane back to Iraq,” she said. “I think you’re clearly going to have to provide additional training, support intelligence systems, probably military support as well to the Iraqi government forces, so they can begin the process of beating back ISIS. There’s simply no way the United States can put up with a situation in which that radical Islamist group has taken over in Iraq.”

Liz Cheney has worked in the U.S. State Department on Middle East affairs. She first started working in the Middle East in 1989. She calls it a critical part of the world.

“The problem is because that group ISIS now controls a large swath of territory in the heart of the Arab world that crosses the border between Syria and Iraq," she said, "it’s territory that they’re already using to set up training camps, territory that can very much be used as a safe haven for terrorists to attempt to attack the United States again, to attack our friends and allies around the world.”

Liz Cheney ran a similar organization called Keep America Safe, which she shut down last summer when she started her Republican campaign for Senate against incumbent U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

She ended her campaign five months ago for family reasons.

In the time since, “I’ve been very, very focused on my kids and the family and spending a lot of time with them and as a mom,” she said. “The reasons I left the race had to do with some health issues with one of our kids in particular, so I’ve been very focused on that.”

She also has resumed work as a Fox News contributor, which she stopped when she began the race against U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi. She has a studio in her Wilson home, she said.

“When you think of the kinds of things you hope for your kids and for the future, obviously you want them to be able to enjoy the freedoms that we have had to live in a world where they know they’ll be safe and secure and where the threat of things like terrorism is as small as possible,” she said. “I think that’s all why it’s so important for us to be very clear about the threat we face.”

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Reach political reporter Laura Hancock at 307-266-0581 or at laura.hancock@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter: @laurahancock.


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