Cheney Attributes Spike in Attacks to Insurgents Sensing Defeat
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 24, 2005 Increased violence and a growing number of foreign insurgents are signs that the United States is close to accomplishing its objective in Iraq, Vice President Richard B. Cheney said in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer June 23.
Cheney clarified earlier comments he made that the insurgents in Iraq were in their last throes. There has been significant political progress in Iraq, Cheney said, and the insurgents are stepping up violence because they recognize that the establishment of a democracy would mean defeat for them.
"I think there will be a lot of violence, a lot of bloodshed, because the terrorists will do everything they can to try to disrupt that process," he said. "But I think it is well under way. I think it is going to be accomplished -- that we will, in fact, succeed in getting a democracy established in Iraq. And I think when we do that, that will be the end of the insurgency."
Cheney said he could not offer any timetable on when the insurgency will be defeated or when the U.S. will reduce its troop level in Iraq.
"The way to think about it is defining it in terms of achieving certain conditions on the ground," he said. "We don't want to stay a day longer than necessary, but we want to stay long enough to get the job done."
The job will be done when the Iraqis can provide their own security and they have a freely elected government under an Iraqi-written constitution, Cheney said. There are already about 160,000 trained and equipped members of Iraq's security forces, and the Iraqi government is well on its way to drafting a constitution, he said.
Cheney dismissed comments from critics about the U.S. losing the war in Iraq. He called criticism inevitable.
"The fact of the matter is, this town has got a lot of people in it who are 'armchair quarterbacks,'" Cheney said. "But those who have predicted the demise of our efforts since 9/11, as we fought the war on terror, as we've liberated 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan, did not know what they were talking about. And I would submit to you today that we'll succeed in Iraq, just like we did in Afghanistan."
Recent poll numbers showing American support for the war as low as 38 percent won't affect the administration's resolve in Iraq or its policy making, Cheney said. The administration can't be guided by the endless supply of polls, he said, and he and other senior officials are acting on their principles and doing what they think is best for the country.
"We're doing what we believe is right," he said. "We're convinced it's right. We're convinced that, in fact, we'll achieve our objectives. And frankly, we don't pay a lot of attention to the polls."
Cheney also defended the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying it is a vital facility holding people who are a continuing threat to the United States. Those detainees who were deemed to not be a threat were released, and the ones still being held are being treated very well, he said.
"There isn't any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we're treating these people," he said.
With the information being gained from the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the political progress being made in Iraq, and the continued training of security forces, Iraq is closer every day to becoming a success story, Cheney said, and success in Iraq will have a huge impact promoting democracy and freedom throughout the Middle East.