Former Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz was quick to defend the Trump administration's foreign policy Friday following an onslaught from one of its most prominent establishment adversaries.
After weeks of conservative disunity on Capitol Hill, House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming struck out against former President Donald Trump once again this past week, referring to his America First foreign policy platform as historically "dangerous" while suggesting he should not appear as a party leader at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida.
GOP Rep. Liz Cheney just now on isolationism in US foreign policy: "These ideas are just as dangerous today as when they were in 1940, when isolationists launched the America First movement to appease Hitler and prevent America from aiding Britain in the fight against the Nazis"
— Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) February 23, 2021
Chaffetz was less convinced, telling The Western Journal at CPAC that Cheney was too focused on the Trump personality, missing four years of tangible strides for conservative policy-making in Washington.
"What prevails over everything is that the policies that Donald Trump was able to champion, because he turned out to be one of the best conservatives we've ever had. And if she thinks that the policies of Donald Trump and the Republicans over the last four years were wrong, I'd love to have her articulate that," Chaffetz said.
"But I think she's still caught up in the cult of personality, as opposed to the conservative movement where it's going."
Chaffetz was not simply there to toe the line on Republican policy successes, however.
A formidable adversary of the Obama administration, the former congressman gave President Joe Biden a surprising amount of room to maneuver with regard to a Thursday drone strike on Iran-backed targets in Syria.
The strikes reportedly killed at least 22 people and were approved by the Pentagon in light of a recent attack on coalition forces in Iraq.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby portrayed the bombing in eastern Syria as carefully calibrated, calling it "proportionate" and "defensive."
This did not save the strikes from substantial criticism at the hands of conservatives, who pointed out that the Biden administration's military action flew in the face of several years of anti-strike rhetoric from Biden and his fellow Democrats.
Trump’s erratic, impulsive actions are the last thing we need as Commander-in-Chief. No president should order a military strike without fully understanding the consequences. We don’t need another war in the Middle East, but Trump’s actions toward Iran only make that more likely.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 23, 2019
Chaffetz, for his part, stood opposed to widespread criticisms, suggesting new presidents were often placed in a difficult position on military policy, with foreign enemies eager to test incoming administrations for weakness.
"If there's a clear and present danger to the United States and they can take out that threat, then that probably makes sense," Chaffetz said.
"I don't know enough of the details, but you can't attack the United States unprovoked and not have a consequence. So, to the extent it was a targeted response and done to prevent future attacks, then it very well could be the right thing to do."
"I think particularly a new president has got to show the world that he's going to stand up for the United States," he added.
"If they made that call and that was the goal, and that's what they did, then I'll support it."