Cheney Calls Terror War 'Struggle Between Civil Societies, Barbarism'
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 6, 2006 Vice President Dick Cheney today praised U.S. servicemembers and vowed victory in the war against terror, calling the global conflict a struggle between civil societies and barbarism.
Vice President Dick Cheney attends a rally with U.S. troops at Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq, Dec. 18, 2005. White House photo by David Bohrer
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
"The war on terror is a battle for the future of civilization," Cheney told servicemembers gathered at the U.S. Army's Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
"It's a battle worth fighting. It's a battle we are going to win," he said.
Cheney recalled his pre-Christmas trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he thanked deployed U.S. servicemembers "for all they've done to bring freedom, stability and peace to a troubled part of the world."
Military members have impressed senior leaders through their skill, professionalism and dedication to duty during often difficult, dangerous conditions, Cheney said.
Four years ago, U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan triumphed over a brutal Taliban regime "that harbored terrorists and plotted murder for export," Cheney said. There's still fighting in Afghanistan, he acknowledged, but headway continues to be made.
"Afghanistan is a rising nation with a democratically elected government, a market economy, equality for women, and millions of children going to school for the very first time," Cheney said. "It is impossible to overstate all that our coalition has achieved in Afghanistan. And when our forces return home from that part of the world, they can be proud of their service for the rest of their lives."
Similar good news emanates from Iraq, Cheney said, where Iraqis, too, have voted for a democratic government and have chosen the path of peace and freedom over the tyranny, chaos and terror employed by the defunct regime of former dictator Saddam Hussein.
"Our strategy in Iraq is clear, our tactics will remain flexible, and we'll work at the job until we finish it," Cheney said. Progress in Iraq hasn't come easily, he said, but it is steadily being achieved.
"By voting in free elections," Cheney said, "by ratifying a constitution, by electing a government last month, Iraqis have shown they value their own liberty and are determined to choose their own destiny."
The plan, Cheney said, is to continue to transfer more and more responsibility to the Iraqis as their capabilities and conditions permit.
Cheney also addressed prominent American voices that say the Iraq conflict is a lost cause and call for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.
"Some have suggested the war is not winnable," Cheney said. "A few seem almost eager to conclude that the struggle was already lost.
"But they are wrong. The only way to lose this fight is to quit - and that is not an option."
There'll be more fighting against terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere, Cheney said, noting, "They are enemies who have declared an intention to bring great harm to any nation that opposes their aims."
Cheney acknowledged that the victories over the terrorists haven't come without a price.
"We care about those who have returned with injuries and who face a hard road ahead," he said. "And our nation grieves for the brave men and women whose lives have ended in freedom's cause."
The sacrifices made by U.S. servicemembers haven't been made in vain, Cheney said.
"We can only say, with complete certainty, that these Americans served in a noble and necessary cause," Cheney said, "and their sacrifice has made our nation and the world more secure.
"We will honor their memory forever," he said.