Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday it would be a "mistake" to apply the "leading-from-behind" strategy in Libya to future conflicts, though he described the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi as a "major plus."
Cheney, in an interview with Fox News, said he remains "cautious" about relying too heavily on international coalitions.
"We're sort of expecting somebody else to do it," Cheney said.
Though the United States, in the case of Libya, was able to hand off leadership of the operation to NATO while leaving it up to the Libyan rebels to take the casualties and do the fighting, Cheney suggested the U.S. probably won't get so lucky in the future.
"I think that's a mistaken notion ... we just lay back, say 'please, please, pretty please' to everybody else out there, that somehow they'll step up," he said. "There isn't anybody else who can do it long term except the United States, and I think that would be a mistake to take the Libyan experience and now say that's a model you can follow in all crises."
Still, he gave the coalition and rebels credit for driving out Qaddafi, though he noted the dictator's whereabouts are unknown. He said many questions remain about the future of Libya, but expressed hope that the Qaddafi dictatorship would be replaced by a democracy that isn't full of radical elements.
Cheney, who is promoting his new memoir "In My Time," also said he's concerned about the implications for the military of a new supercommittee tasked with finding deficit savings. That bipartisan committee is supposed to find $1.5 trillion or so in savings by the end of the year -- if it doesn't, a built-in "trigger" could chop about $500 billion from defense spending over the next decade.
"It's very important for us not to do serious long-term damage to our defense capabilities during the course of this budget exercise," Cheney said. "We should not whack away at the defense budget."