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Homeland Security

American Forces Press Service

Cheney Addresses Terrorist Threat in Los Angeles Speech

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2004 -- In a speech that often evoked the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney emphasized Jan. 14 that the global war against terrorism is a long-term struggle.

Cheney spoke to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.

"Remembering what we saw on 9/11, and knowing the nature of these enemies, we have as clear a responsibility as could ever fall to government," Cheney said. "We must do everything in our power to keep terrorists from gaining weapons of mass destruction."

He said the issue is an urgent responsibility that has shifted the country's national security strategy. "There are certain moments in history when the gravest threats reveal themselves," the vice president said. "And in those moments, the response of our government must be swift, and it must be right."

Cheney told the group the U.S. national security strategy during the Cold War that emphasized deterrence and containment is not sufficient to meet the threat of terrorism today.

"It's hard to deter an enemy that has no territory to defend, no standing army to counter, and no real assets to destroy in order to discourage them from attacking you," he said. "Containment is meaningless in the case of terrorists. And neither containment nor deterrence offers protection against rogue regimes that develop weapons of mass destruction and are willing to pass along those weapons secretly to a terrorist on a suicide mission."

Today's world, he said, calls for a very different strategy. "Given these realities," he added, "There can be no waiting until the danger has fully materialized. By then, it would be too late. And so we are waging this war in the only way it can be won -- by taking the fight directly to the enemy."

The vice president said that on the night of 9/11, President Bush declared what has become known as the Bush doctrine: "Any person or government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and will be held to account."

The vice president said that although the more than 125,000 U.S. troops serving in Iraq are confronting terrorists every day, the use of military force by the United States always is the last option in defending the nation and its interests. But, he added, "Sometimes the last resort must be taken."

Cheney said the U.S.-led coalition's actions in Iraq not only removed one danger -- Saddam Hussein -- "but made it more likely that other dangers can be dealt with through diplomatic means." He cited Libya's decision to dismantle its program for weapons of mass destruction and to invite international oversight of the process.

By making its intentions clear and by "matching resolutions with actual resolve," Cheney said, the United States has sent an unmistakable message: "The pursuit of weapons of mass destruction only invites isolation and carries other costs. 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."

The vice president said the undoing of Saddam's regime and the "welcome commitments" from Libya will bring greater security to the United States and its allies. But he cautioned that "especially in moments of success, we need to remember the long-term nature of the struggle we are in, and the serious dangers that still exist."


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