Cheney Calls Terrorists 'Enemy We Must Vanquish'
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 27, 2004 Vice President Dick Cheney said the terrorist threat does not represent a "foe we can reason with or negotiate with or appease. This is, to put it simply, an enemy that we must vanquish."
Cheney spoke today to Marines of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif. He thanked the Marines and sailors for their service, especially those who participated in the liberation of Iraq last year.
The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, changed the world, the vice president said. "In the space of a few hours we lost 3,000 of our fellow citizens. We saw the violence and the grief that terrorism can inflict. We saw a foe whose hatred for us is limitless," he said.
Cheney paraphrased the 9-11 Commission's report issued last week as saying the enemy's purpose "is to rid the world of religious and political pluralism. They want to impose their way of life on the rest of us. And in pursuit of this goal they are prepared to slaughter anyone who stands in their way."
Cheney said the U.S. doctrine in the war on terror is simple: Every person, group or regime that harbors or supports terror is equally guilty of terrorist crimes and will be held to account.
The Taliban in Afghanistan found out what that doctrine means, he said. The World Trade Center ruins were still burning when U.S. service members went into Afghanistan. There they fought in conjunction with local freedom fighters and took down the Taliban regime. The coalition killed or captured hundreds of al Qaeda terrorists and liberated 25 million people.
Afghanistan today has a peaceful government, democracy is rising, and the terror camps are gone, Cheney said. "The American people are safer for it," he said to cheers from the Marines.
Cheney went on to say that the danger of terrorists getting their hands on weapons of mass destruction cannot be ignored. "If terrorists get their hands on that deadly technology, there can be no doubt they will inflict catastrophic damage on America and our allies," he said.
He said President Bush was determined to remove threats from those weapons before they were used against the American people. "So America acted to end the regime of Saddam Hussein," Cheney said.
The vice president noted there is still important and difficult work ahead in Iraq. "Freedom still has enemies in that country," he said. "Yet, thanks to the accomplishments of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and the other units of our military, Iraq has undergone a historic transformation. Sixteen months ago, Iraq was under the control of a dictator. Today, Saddam Hussein is in jail.
"Sixteen months ago, 25 million people in Iraq lived in repression, fearful of torture or death," he continued. "Now they are free and protected by an Iraqi bill of rights and preparing to elect their own leaders.
"Sixteen months ago Iraq was a gathering threat to the United States and the civilized world. Now it is a rising democracy, an ally in the war on terror and the American people are safer for it."
Cheney thanked the Marines preparing to return to Iraq for a second time. "Your mission in Iraq is critical to the future security of the United States," he said.
The vice president said that to fully and finally overcome the terror threat, the United States is encouraging hope and democracy in the Middle East as an alternative to the hatred and the despair that lead to violence.
He promised the Marines the president will back them up 100 percent. "We will ensure you have the best possible equipment to do your mission, to make sure you receive the pay increases you deserve, and support the military families here at home," Cheney said. "We will keep that commitment to you."