[R-G] Fear the world, dominate the world: Cheney's campaign defense of "war on terror"
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri Jan 16 18:41:28 MST 2004
San Francisco Chronicle January 15, 2004
Cheney's Grim Vision: Decades of War
by James Sterngold
LOS ANGELES -- In a forceful preview of the Bush administration's
expansionist military policies in this election year, Vice President
Dick Cheney Wednesday painted a grim picture of what he said was the
growing threat of a catastrophic terrorist attack in the United States
and warned that the battle, like the Cold War, could last generations.
The vice president's tone, in a major address to the Los Angeles World
Affairs Council, was sobering, unlike many other comments recently by
senior administration officials that have stressed successes in the
war on terrorism.
Cheney mentioned only in passing the administration's domestic
policies, while saying President Bush would present a blueprint of his
domestic goals in next Tuesday's State of the Union speech.
Cheney devoted the half-hour speech to a frightening characterization
of the war on terrorism and the new kind of mobilization he said it
demanded. He sounded the alarm about the increasing prospects of a
major new terrorist attack and the extraordinary responses that are
required. While many of his remarks echoed past comments by the
president and senior officials, Cheney struck a surprisingly dour note
and suggested only an administration of proven ability could manage
the dramatic overhaul necessary for the nation's security apparatus.
"One of the legacies of this administration will be some of the most
sweeping changes in our military, and our national security strategy
as it relates to the military and force structure, and how we're
based, and how we used it in the last 50 or 60 years, probably since
World War II," Cheney said. "I think the changes are that dramatic."
He also said the administration was planning to expand the military
into even more overseas bases so the United States could wage war
quickly around the globe.
Note that Cheney feels obliged to reassure Democratic candidates who
demand tougher stance on north Korea (and the leading ones favor more
troops in Iraq as well).
"Scattered in more than 50 nations, the al Qaeda network and other
terrorist groups constitute an enemy unlike any other that we have
ever faced, " he said. "And as our intelligence shows, the terrorists
continue plotting to kill on an ever-larger scale, including here in
the United States."
Cheney provided no details, however, of the kinds of attacks he
Although the administration has been criticized by some, including
most of the Democratic candidates for president, for not doing enough
to eliminate known programs for developing weapons of mass destruction
in such countries as North Korea, Cheney said they were a priority and
confronted the United States with its gravest threat.
Again, he presented the risks of a terrorist attack involving these
weapons in stark terms.
"Instead of losing thousands of lives, we might lose tens or even
hundreds of thousands of lives as the result of a single attack, or a
set coordinated of attacks," Cheney said.
While polls show that many Americans support the president's
aggressive war on terrorism, he also has many critics for the way the
battle has been waged. The president initially justified the war in
Iraq by saying that Saddam Hussein had active programs to develop
chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The United States has yet to
find evidence of such programs since overthrowing Hussein and
installing a military occupation, prompting questions about the
president's agenda and the quality of intelligence he is receiving.
In addition, an expert at the U.S. Army War College, Jeffrey Record,
recently released a 62-page analysis that concluded the war in Iraq
might have set back American efforts to stop terrorists by diverting
precious resources to a battle that will do little to prevent new
As a result, Record concluded, the war on terrorism "lacks strategic
clarity, embraces unrealistic objectives and may not be sustainable
over the long haul."
But in his speech Wednesday, Cheney compared this moment to the
challenges faced by President Harry Truman at the beginning of the
Cold War, when there was a hot war flaring on the Korean Peninsula and
a long-term nuclear standoff developing with the Soviet Union.
Cheney said Bush was establishing, as Truman had, a new structure for
a new long-term war and spreading the military into new areas of the
globe. "On Sept. 11, 2001, our nation made a fundamental commitment
that will take many years to see through," Cheney said.
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