Vice President Urges Patience As Iraq Progress Continues
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Jun. 13, 2005 Vice President Richard B. Cheney urged patience as Iraq continues on the road toward self-sufficiency in a June 10 interview here.
Speaking with Air Force Master Sgt. Sean Lehman of the Pentagon Channel, Cheney stressed the need for patience with the remaining U.S. and coalition mission in Iraq and as the fledgling democracy takes shape, citing "two really important developments" in progress.
"One is the Iraqis (are) in the midst of the process of writing a constitution, which will be ratified in a national referendum this fall, and then they'll have elections in December for the first freely elected government under the new constitution," the vice president said.
"The other important development that's going forward is training Iraqi forces to be able to take care of their own security requirements," he continued. "We've now got over 160,000 who have been through some training and are equipped. Obviously, there are various stages of readiness and capability, but more and more we're seeing Iraqis actually in the fight, taking on more of the responsibilities for the task of dealing with the security threat.
"And those two things," he said, "really are crucial to our completing the mission there."
Cheney noted that Iraq has made its progress so far toward becoming a full-fledged democracy in a relatively short time. "It took us from 1775 until 1789, about 14 years, from the time we started our revolution, ... until we had a constitution ratified, in place, ready to elect a government," he said. "It's only been a little over two years now in Iraq since we went in and toppled Saddam Hussein's regime, so I think we need to be a little bit patient here in terms of our expectations about how fast they go."
The vice president said the Iraqis are doing "a remarkable job" and that U.S. forces "are performing magnificently."
And although Iraq has been a focal point, Cheney said the effort there "isn't just about Iraq."
"This is about establishing democracy in a part of the world that hasn't known much democracy," he said. "And in doing so, we can transform that part of the world and make it a far less hospitable spot ... for the kind of terrorist attacks that we suffered on 9/11 here in the United States.
"Establishing democracy in Afghanistan and in Iraq will help transform that whole region," he continued, "and future generations of Americans will be far safer because of the mission that we're engaged in right now."