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Cheney Vows to Destroy Terrorists

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2002 – The war against terror won't end in a treaty or negotiations with the terrorists, but "will end only in their complete and utter destruction," Vice President Cheney said today.

The terrorists are "determined to kill Americans by any means, on any scale, and on our own soil," Cheney said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco. With cells in more than 60 countries, the al Qaeda terror network is an example of groups that can't be deterred nor reasoned with by diplomats, he said.

While most of Cheney's address focused on the nation's economic challenges, his speech closed with national security concerns. He said the government's most important responsibility is to protect the nation against further attack, and win the war that began Sept. 11.

Cheney, who served as defense secretary under former President George Bush, expressed his pride in the men and women of the nation's military.

"We are investing in our military so we can deploy swift and agile forces anyplace and anytime they're needed," he said. "We are building precision weapons that can spare the lives of American soldiers in combat and innocent civilians in foreign lands."

In Afghanistan, he said, U.S. officials found evidence that al Qaeda is seeking nuclear and radiological weapons as well as biological and chemical agents. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is also pursuing these capabilities, Cheney noted.

"Every significant threat to our country requires the most careful, deliberate and decisive response by America and our allies," he said. "Deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists would expose this nation and the civilized world to the worst of horrors."

The United States will not allow it, Cheney vowed. "We will not live at the mercy of terrorists or terror regimes."

A statement Gen. George C. Marshall made more than 60 years ago in the early stages of World War II applies to the war on terror, Cheney said. "Before the sun sets on this terrible struggle," Marshall said, "our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand, and overwhelming power on the other."

In a question and answer session with the media following his speech, Cheney said that it would be a mistake to assume that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks "were in any way, shape or form sanctioned by or supported by the Saudi government." Osama bin Laden, he noted, is Saudi by birth, but he has been stripped of his citizenship by Saudi Arabia.

Iran, he noted, has actively and aggressively supported terrorism, especially the Hezbollah, and the United States has made clear its opposition. Iran is also trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including ballistic missile technology and nuclear weapons.

"But our argument with Iran is not with the Iranian people," Cheney said. "We think the potential exists that underneath that regime -- whose policies we find so objectionable -- there is a growing body of opinion on the part of the Iranian people that favors and supports democracy."

The Iranian people want to build a good relationship with the United States and yearn for democracy, he said. "We think the prospects there are promising in some respects, Cheney said.

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the vice president said the ultimate vision is for two states. "Israeli and Palestinian living side by side, in peace and security for both," he said.

"We believe that is not possible, after years of effort, unless there are some fundamental changes in the Palestinian entity," he said. "So we pushed aggressively for reform."

Establishing a viable Palestinian Authority, he said, will be key to safeguarding Israel against attacks launched from Palestinian territory and to making progress in the peace process.

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