Cheney: U.S. Will Continue ‘Full-Speed Ahead’ in Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2006 The United States will go “full-speed ahead” in implementing the strategy in Iraq and won’t be swayed by political pressures or “because it’s hard going,” Vice President Richard B. Cheney reaffirmed today.
“The president has made clear what his objective is: It’s victory in Iraq,” Cheney said this morning on ABC’s This Week. “It’s full speed ahead on that basis, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Cheney said the terrorists see the Nov. 7 elections as a way to execute their strategy. “Their strategy isn’t to defeat us militarily, they can’t do that,” Cheney said. “What they are betting on – and Osama bin Laden talks about it – is they can ultimately break the will of the American people.”
Al Qaeda counts on the United States not having the will to see the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan through, the vice president said. He noted that bin Laden uses the examples of the United States leaving Lebanon after the Marine Barracks bombing in 1983, and the U.S. military leaving Somalia after taking casualties in Mogadishu in 1993.
Cheney said the war in Iraq is the right thing to do. “It has a direct bearing on how we do around the world in the global war on terror,” he said. “If in fact, (President Hamid) Karzai in Afghanistan or (President Purvez) Musharraf in Pakistan, who have been great allies in the war on terror, were to see us suddenly decide to depart from Iraq and decide it got too tough, it would seriously undermine our efforts in all those other places.”
Any suggestion that the United States could walk away from the war on Iraq and still aggressively pursue the war on terror, “is just wrong,” Cheney said.
“What we’re trying to do in Iraq is stand up a government that is capable of governing the country, and we are making progress,” he said. “The government that’s in power there has been in office six months. It’s a little early to write them off.”
U.S. and coalition military assistance teams need to continue training the Iraqi military and police, Cheney said. That effort can and will be accelerated, he said, calling support for the Afghan government and training of its security forces the heart of the U.S. strategy there.
The real measure of success will be what the situation around the world looks like in 20 years, the vice president said. “It’s very important we get it right (today),” he said. “If the United States bails out on Iraq now ... we’ll put at risk all the progress we’ve made and the hundreds of thousands – indeed millions – of people in that part of the world who’ve signed on to be part of the effort.”
Millions of Iraqis and Afghans voted for democracy in past elections. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans have volunteered to serve in the governments’ security forces. Hundreds of thousands of others support their governments in other ways.
“So for the United States now, because it’s tough, and because it’s hard going, to pack it in is the wrong thing to do,” Cheney said.