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Vice President Tells West Point Cadets "Bush Doctrine" Is Serious

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2003 – "If there is anyone in the world today who doubts the seriousness of the Bush Doctrine, I would urge that person to consider the fate of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq," Vice President Richard Cheney told an applauding 2003 West Point graduating class May 31.

The doctrine asserts that states supporting terrorists, or providing sanctuary for terrorists, will be deemed just as guilty of crimes as the terrorists themselves, Cheney noted in his commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy.

"Before 9-11, all too many nations tended to draw a distinction between the terrorist groups and the states that provided these groups with support. They were unwilling to hold these terror-sponsoring states accountable for their actions."

After 9-11, the president "decided that the distinction between the terrorists and their sponsors should no longer stand," he said.

Cheney added perspective to the president's actions by saying that in 20 months since the Sept. 11 attacks, "the United States has freed two nations from oppression and terror."

"We destroyed the al Qaeda's grip on Afghanistan, removed the repressive Taliban regime from power, and nearly half of al Qaeda's leadership has been captured or killed. In Iraq, a regime that supported terrorists, brutalized its own people and threatened its neighbors and the peace of the world is no more," Cheney said.

But the vice president cautioned cadets that although the battle of Iraq was a major victory in the war on terrorism, the war itself is far from over.

"We cannot allow ourselves to grow complacent," he said. "We cannot forget that the terrorists remain determined to kill as many Americans as possible, both abroad and here at home, and they are still seeking weapons of mass destruction to use against us.

"With such an enemy, no peace treaty is possible; no policy of containment or deterrence will prove effective. The only way to deal with this threat is to destroy it, completely and utterly."

If that must be done militarily, Cheney told the graduating cadets that they would help lead military transformation to "confront the threats of a new era. "To defend our country from terrorists and terror states, the American armed forces will continue to gain in speed, agility, precision, and every advantage we need to dominate the field of battle," he said.

"The military," he said, "displayed vast new capabilities (in Iraq) that were not yet operational 12 years ago when I was Secretary of Defense. With less than half the ground forces used in Desert Storm, and two-thirds of the air power, our military achieved a far more difficult objective in less time and with fewer casualties."

Cheney told the class that historians and military planners will study the battles in Iraq for years to come, but he said the "basic reasons" for U.S. success is already known: "The most obvious factor was speed," he noted.

"Our soldiers and Marines raced to Baghdad across 350 miles of hostile terrain in one of the fastest advances in history," he said.

"The rapid advance prevented the enemy from mounting a coherent defense, from turning unconventional weapons against our forces, from harming its neighbors with Scud missiles, and from destroying the bridges, dams, and oil fields it had wired with explosives," he added.

Cheney said another factor in victory was the use of precision technology, noting that Tomahawk missiles fired from U.S. ships "were more accurate" than those used in Desert Storm. Those missiles could be re-targeted in a matter of hours instead of days, he said.

"Artillery groups could rely on satellite guidance and computerized targeting. A dozen years ago, only 20 percent of our air-to-ground aircraft could hit targets with precision munitions," he said.

"In this battle, all of our air-to-ground aircraft had precision-guided capabilities. Thanks to all of these advances, we were able to destroy the command centers of the Iraqi regime, while minimizing civilian casualties and leaving Iraq's economic infrastructure largely intact."

Cheney took time to thank U.S. and coalition forces for maintaining the initiative at every stage of the Iraq campaign by controlling the war's pace to determine its outcome.

"The most important ingredient for success was the men and women who served, beginning with our Secretary of Defense, Don Rumsfeld, our outstanding theater commander, Gen. Tommy Franks, and the men and women of our armed forces," he said. He named special operations forces; the First Marine Expeditionary Force; the Army's 3rd Infantry and 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions; and the air and naval units that supported them.

"With our victory in Iraq, we have removed a threat to our country and to our friends in the region. And all nations, friend and foe alike, can be certain that the United States military is second to none, and our commander in chief is indeed a man of his word."

"The fundamental interest of this nation requires that we confront and defeat aggressive threats," Cheney said. "Yet, as the president has said, 'We find our greatest security in the advance of human freedom. We stand for the values that defeat violence, and the hope that overcomes hatred.'"

Cheney concluded his speech by reminding the graduates of their commitment to serve. "Wherever you are posted, wherever your career leads you, I trust you will always remember how others see the uniform of the United States," the vice president said. "Your service might take you to the most stable place in the quietest of times, but that uniform is a reminder of what assures stability and keeps the peace. At other times, your service may take you to dangerous places, and there the sight of an American in uniform will bring fear to the violent and hope to the oppressed.

"This nation is grateful that four years ago, every man and woman graduating today made a life-changing decision. You left the comforts and familiar surroundings of civilian life, and devoted yourselves to one of the noblest professions in a free country -- the profession of arms.

"You made that commitment, and you've kept it," he declared.

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