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Promoting Democracy Key to Winning War Against Terrorism, says Cheney - 2004-01-24

Vice President Dick Cheney has urged Europe to join the United States in promoting democracy in the Arab world and Iran, saying such an effort is key to winning the global war on terrorism. Mr. Cheney also called for greater cooperation in facing 21st century security challenges but said that, if diplomacy fails, nations must be prepared to use force.

Mr. Cheney was addressing an audience of about 1,500 political and business leaders at the annual World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos. Although he justified the war in Iraq and said the U.S.-led coalition there is making progress in stabilizing the country, the tone of his speech was conciliatory toward Europeans still skeptical about Washington's reasons for going to war.

In Mr. Cheney's view, the international community faces three fundamental responsibilities in its efforts to fight terrorism and stop the spread of dangerous weapons.

"First, we must confront the ideologies of violence at the source by promoting democracy throughout the greater Middle East and beyond," he said. "Second, we must meet these dangers together. Cooperation among our governments and effective international institutions are even more important today than they have been in the past. Third, when diplomacy fails, we must be prepared to face our responsibilities and be willing to use force if necessary. Direct threats require decisive action."

The vice president says Europe should join the United States in encouraging the Iranian government to honor what he called the legitimate demands of the Iranian people.

But Mr. Cheney also stressed that the United States and Europe together should support those who he says work and sacrifice for reform across the entire Middle East to avert people from turning to terrorism as a solution to their frustrations.

"We know from experience that the institutions of self-government turn the energies of human beings away from violence to the peaceful work of building better lives," said Dick Cheney. "Democracies do not breed the anger and the radicalism that drag down whole societies and export violence. Terrorists do not find fertile recruiting grounds in societies where young people have the right to guide their own destinies and to choose their own leaders."

Mr. Cheney called on democratic countries everywhere as well as the United Nations to get involved in Iraq, and he said nations should be generous in forgiving that country's massive foreign debt.

He said that if the United States had not acted in Iraq, the country's people would still be living what he called the nightmare of Saddam Hussein's rule and the fallen Iraqi leader would still be defying the United Nations.