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Vice President Cheney Defends Bush Administration Policy on  Iraq, Terrorism - 2004-01-15


Vice President Dick Cheney has defended the U.S. war on terror and the war in Iraq, which he says reflect a new approach to U.S. security. The administration official spoke in Los Angeles. Mr. Cheney said 2003 ended with two significant victories for the United States. The first was the capture of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"Then, five days later, came the announcement by Libya Colonel Moammar Gadhafi that his regime would voluntarily reveal and dismantle its nuclear and chemical weapons programs, as well as its longer-range missiles and biological weapons-related efforts," he said.

Mr. Cheney went on to say traditional doctrines of containment and deterrence are ineffective against terrorists and rogue regimes that develop weapons of mass destruction. He said the Iraqi leader sought ties to terrorist groups, and had built and used such weapons.

He said the United States and its allies, through their action in Iraq, have sent what he calls an "unmistakable message."

"The pursuit of weapons of mass destruction only invites isolation and carries other costs," he said. "By the same token, leaders who abandon the pursuit of those weapons will find an open path to better relations with the United States of America and other free nations."

With the U.S. presidential race gaining momentum, Mr. Cheney's remarks were made against a backdrop of criticisms of the Bush administration by leading Democrats, who say the war in Iraq has misdirected U.S. efforts away from the war on terror.

But Mr. Cheney sees the two as linked, and says the current threat requires resolve and action. He compared today's situation with the one that President Truman faced at the end of World War II, as a "Cold War" was developing with the Soviet Union.

He said Mr. Truman oversaw a strategic shift in U.S. security institutions, and says a comparable response to a different kind of danger is underway today.