Iraq 'Commitment Will Be Kept,' Cheney Tells Coast Guard Grads
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 19, 2004 The United States made a pledge to help Iraqis establish a new government free from tyranny, "and that commitment will be kept," Vice President Dick Cheney told Coast Guard Academy graduates today.
In his remarks to the Class of 2004 at the New London, Conn., military institution, Cheney asserted that "America will do what is necessary" in Iraq, including "destroying the terrorists, returning sovereignty to the Iraqi people, and helping them to build a stable, self-governing nation."
Iraq will become a peaceful, democratic country, Cheney said, "or it will again become a source of violence, a haven for terror, and a danger to America and the world." And, "because we are strong and resolute, Iraq will never go back to the camp of tyranny and terror," the vice president vowed.
The Coast Guard performed an important role in the liberation of Iraq, Cheney said, "sending cutters and more than 1,000 active duty members to the Persian Gulf and surrounding waters." Coast Guard members continue to serve in the region, he pointed out, assisting Iraqi port and oil platform security efforts and harbor and waterway safety.
Cheney saluted fallen Coast Guard Petty Officer Nathan Bruckenthal, who was killed April 24 along with Navy Petty Officers Michael Pernaselli and Christopher Watts during an insurgent suicide boat attack near an Iraqi oil terminal. Bruckenthal was the first Coast Guardsman killed in action since the Vietnam War.
"The United States honors the memory of this young man," Cheney said, "as we honor all who have fallen in this cause."
The Coast Guard also is greatly assisting homeland security efforts, Cheney noted, by safeguarding the nation's coastline, navigable waterways and seaports.
"Members of the Coast Guard are serving with all the skill and honor this nation expects of them and our entire nation is grateful," Cheney said.
Iraq "has become a central front in the war on terror," Cheney pointed out, noting that's why "a collection of killers is trying to undo Iraq's progress and throw that country into chaos."
Insurgents and other malcontents committing bombings, murder and mayhem in Iraq "want to destroy the democratic hopes of the Iraqi people" and loosen the resolve of the American public, Cheney said. "In all of this, the terrorists will fail," he vowed.
Cheney said America rightly took the offensive against global terrorists following the 9/11 attacks. The United States made a decision to "engage the enemy, facing him with our military in Afghanistan and Iraq today, so we do not have to face him with armies of firefighters, police, and medical personnel inside our own country," he said.