Cheney: America 'Won't Wait to Be Hit Again' by Terrorists
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network and other terrorist groups "were actually at war with this country before 2001," Cheney told attendees at the Association of the United States Army's annual meeting and exposition.
In 1983, an explosives-laden truck killed 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, Cheney recalled. Afterward, U.S. troops were withdrawn from Beirut, he said.
And "time and time again, for the remainder of the 20th century, the terrorists hit America and America did not hit back hard enough," Cheney said. In 1993, terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in New York City, he noted. During the same year, he recalled, extremists in Mogadishu, Somalia, ambushed and killed 18 American soldiers.
Cheney said terrorist bombers struck again in 1996, killing 19 U.S. servicemembers, mostly Air Force members, at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. In 1998, the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were the targets of terrorist bombings, he recalled, that killed 231 people, including 12 Americans. And in October 2000, 17 sailors died when terrorist suicide bombers in Aden, Yemen, attacked the USS Cole, he said.
Over time "the terrorists came to believe that they could strike America without paying any price," Cheney pointed out. And on Sept. 11, 2001, "they attacked the United States directly," he said.
Now four years old, the global war on terrorism "is a new kind of war against the most ruthless of enemies," Cheney said. The terrorists behind the Sept. 11 attacks "have proven their eagerness to kill innocent men, women and children by the thousands," Cheney pointed out.
"The fight we are waging," he noted, "is every bit as urgent as it is dangerous."
That danger continues to be very real, in part, because terrorist organizations like al Qaeda want to obtain weapons of mass destruction, Cheney said. And the terrorists, he noted, "would not hesitate to use such weapons at the first opportunity."
The Sept. 11 attacks convinced the U.S. government to take the offensive against global terrorists, Cheney said, rather than to "sit back and wait to be hit again." Accordingly, America's strategy to prevent future terrorist attacks on the homeland, he said, is predicated on "taking the fight to the enemy" in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.
Today in Iraq terrorists "are testing our resolve and trying to shake our commitment to democracy in that part of the world," Cheney observed. The terrorists are fighting hard in Iraq, he said, because they "regard Iraq as the central front in their war against the civilized world."
Iraqis are slated to vote for a new constitution in an Oct. 15 referendum. The terrorists want to take over Iraq as a base and as a springboard to new attacks and conquests, the vice president explained, noting they'll do "everything they can" to derail Iraq's march toward democracy.
However, America "will stand by our friends" and "we will help Iraqis build a nation that is free and secure and able to defend itself," Cheney vowed. The United States "will confront our enemies on this and every other front in the war on terror, he said.
And "with good allies on our side, we will prevail," he said.
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