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Cheney Thanks Australia for Firm Stance Against Terrorism

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2007 – Australia has earned the world’s respect for its firm stance in the war on terror, Vice President Richard B. Cheney said today in Sydney.

Speaking at the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue conference, Cheney praised Prime Minister John Howard and reaffirmed the value of the U.S.-Australian alliance.

The vice president recalled a speech Howard made in Washington on Sept. 10, 2001 -- the day before terrorists struck the United States -- in which the Australian leader noted the close working relationship between the two nations and their like-mindedness on the subject of freedom.

“In the words of Prime Minister Howard,” Cheney said, “we have ‘demonstrated to the world that values based on freedom and individual liberty in the end win acceptance. But they only win acceptance if behind the commitment is a determination … to defend those values, if necessary fight for them, and always to be ready to repel those who would seek to take those freedoms away.’

“He stuck to those words one day later, and he has stuck to them every day since,” Cheney said. “Prime Minister Howard and the nation he serves have never wavered in the war on terror. The United States appreciates it, and the whole world respects you for it.”

The United States is grateful and proud to have Australia as a friend, Cheney said.

“As leading democracies, Australia and the United States feel a deep sense of responsibility for security and peace in our world,” he said. “The cooperation between our governments has risen to a new level, with stronger ties of defense and counterterrorism, and much broader cooperation on intelligence and information sharing. We're working closely on the joint strike fighter and on ballistic missile defense.”

Having stood together in every major conflict of the last 100 years, Cheney said, the United States and Australia now stand together in the “decisive struggle” against terrorism.

“The notion that free countries can turn our backs on what happens in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other possible safe haven for terrorists is an option that we simply cannot indulge,” he said. “The evil that appeared on 9/11 has returned many times since.

“And we have learned that terrorist attacks, whether in New York or London or Madrid or Casablanca or Jakarta or Bali, are not merely criminal acts by tiny bands of men,” he continued. “Instead, they represent a movement that is global in scope, that formed over a period of decades, and that is determined to sow chaos and destruction within civilized countries.”

Cheney said terrorists have adopted the pretense of being an aggrieved party, claiming to speak for the powerless against modern imperialists.

“The fact is they're at war with practically every liberal ideal, and in their vision, everyone would be powerless except them,” he said. “Their ideology rejects tolerance and denies freedom of conscience. … An ideology so violent, so hateful, can take hold only by force or intimidation, and so those who refuse to bow to the tyrants face brutalization or murder. And no person or group, not even fellow Muslims, is exempt.”

Though their creed is “narrow and backward-looking,” Cheney said, terrorists use modern and sophisticated methods to advance their cause.

“The terrorists use the Internet to spread propaganda and to find new recruits, and they're employing every other tool of communication and finance to carry out their plans,” he noted. “They have proclaimed, as well, the goal of arming themselves with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. So armed, they would attempt to impose their will by mass murder and blackmail. And no argument, no principle of moral law, and no appeal to reason or mercy could be expected to stop them.”

Terrorists believe free nations lack the will for a long struggle and that, by continuing to commit horrific acts, they will destroy any remaining to oppose them, Cheney said.

“We've never had a fight like this, and it's not a fight we can win using the strategies from other wars,” he said. “An enemy that operates in the shadows and views the entire world as a battlefield is not one that can be contained or deterred. An enemy with fantasies of martyrdom is not going to sit down at a table for peaceful negotiations. The only option for our security and survival is to go on the offensive -- face the threat directly, patiently and systematically until the enemy is destroyed.”

Success for the United States, Australia and their shared principles depends on the willingness to act where action is required, Cheney said. He cited examples of Australia demonstrating that willingness in the Pacific region.

“You've provided military and civilian authorities to help maintain peace and stability in East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Fiji and Papua New Guinea,” he said. “Your government has provided critical leadership on counterterrorism in Indonesia, the Philippines and other lands. And Australia's contribution to security and good governance in the Pacific island countries is principled; it's effective; and it's indispensable.”

Cheney said the U.S.-Australian alliance is as important as ever as it moves forward.

“We are strong countries that have sacrificed greatly for peace and freedom at home and on distant shores,” he said. “Our purposes in this world are good and right. So we have made our decision. Once again, we choose to face challenges squarely. And once again, we go forward -- as allies, as comrades-in-arms and, above all, as friends.”

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