Cheney Cites Progress in Afghanistan, Iraq
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 14, 2004 Citing recent and upcoming events, Vice President Dick Cheney told a group in Florida today that the United States has made tremendous progress in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Cheney spoke at the James Madison Institute, a Florida-based research and educational organization.
"Who could have conceived that we would see the president of Afghanistan addressing a joint session of Congress, as Hamid Karzai will (June 15), to express his gratitude to the American people for the liberation of his nation?" he asked. "Who could have imagined that we would see an Iraqi president come to our country and thank us, as President Ghazi al-Yawer did last week, for liberating his country?"
The vice president also cited the unanimous adoption June 7 of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546 supporting Iraq's transition to full sovereignty as something that would have been hard to imagine not long ago. He said that vote laid out a path to democracy consistent with the plan President Bush proposed, designed to lead to free national elections in Iraq by January 2005.
"Our nation should be very proud of what we have accomplished, not only because we've removed threats, but because we are helping these nations along the road to freedom," Cheney said.
The vice president said that working with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, American forces helped oust the Taliban from power in a matter of weeks, captured or killed hundreds of al Qaeda operatives and put Osama bin Laden on the run.
"Now, a new government has been established under President Hamid Karzai, and a nation is being rebuilt, children are going to school and a constitution has been written, and free elections will be held in Afghanistan this fall," Cheney said.
In Pakistan, he said, President Pervez Musharraf, twice targeted for assassination by al Qaeda, has become a strong ally and helped with intelligence that helped U.S. forces capture Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a terrorist wanted for his role in a plot to bomb U.S. airliners flying out of Southeast Asia in 1995.
Saudi Arabia, Cheney said, is now working closely with the United States to root out al Qaeda, especially after the events of 9/11 and the recent terror attacks in Riyadh.
In Iraq, he said emphatically, "Saddam Hussein is in jail. His sons are dead, his government is gone."
But the vice president said he does not underestimate the challenges that lie ahead.
"The terrorists understand as well as we do," he said, "that as democracy grows, their prospects diminish -- and they will try with all the murderous hatred they can muster to prevent both Iraq and Afghanistan from becoming free and self-governing nations." But, he added, the United States "will not waver."
"We will keep working in Afghanistan and Iraq and beyond to spread freedom and the prosperity and security that it brings," he said. "And here at home, we will continue take every measure and provide every resource needed to secure the people of the United States."