Establishing Democracy in Iraq Worthy Cause, Cheney Says
By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 15, 2007 Retreating from Iraq will endanger U.S. national security and stunt democracy in the Middle East, Vice President Dick Cheney said today on CBS's “Face the Nation”
“What happens over there is absolutely vital from the standpoint of U.S. security,” he said.
Cheney said leaving Iraq without fully establishing a stable and democratic government would lead the country down the path to becoming a safe haven for extremists, while sending the wrong message to U.S. allies in the region about America’s commitment to democracy there. “Establishing in Iraq a democratic government that can defend itself: that’s basically our mission,” he said.
The vice president acknowledged that the mission in Iraq is difficult, but said the U.S. has a good strategy and strong commanders in place to make it a reality. “It’s absolutely essential we get it right,” he said.
Cheney pointed to Iraqi elections in 2005, when 12 million people braved threats of terror to participate in their first free elections, and the country’s new constitution as indicators that progress has already been made there.
“In the broad sweep of history, those would have been major turning points in the war in Iraq,” he said. “I do believe we can win in Iraq. I think it is a worthy cause. And I think the United States of America at the beginning of the 21st century is perfectly capable of winning this fight.”
Cheney also talked about the emergency war-spending bill yet to be sent to the White House. He said Congress should send the president a clean bill that he can sign immediately.
“We’re trying to work out procedures to get the bill passed,” he said. “It’s absolutely essential we have it …for the troops in the field.”
If the bill is not signed by the end of April, combat units will start to run out of money, he said. “The Defense Department has some flexibility in terms of reprogramming and so forth, but it begins to bite fairly early on,” he said. “What happens is that we’ll have to pull money out of other accounts in order to fund forces in combat.”
This reallocation of funds will have a negative impact on training and readiness for troops prior to deployment, and on equipment refurbishing, he said.
“It is an urgent supplemental that needs to be passed right away,” Cheney said.