Q Let me read to you what Senator Kennedy, liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, and a long-time opponent of the war said on the third anniversary. Here's part of his statement. He said:You know, I wish Cheney would just tell us what he really thinks. Heh.
"It is clearer than ever that Iraq was a war we never should have fought. The administration has been dangerously incompetent. And its Iraq policy is not worthy of the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. Yet President Bush continues to see the war through the same rose-colored glasses he has always used. He assures the American people we are winning, while Iraq's future and the lives of our troops hangs so perilously on the precipice of a new disaster."
Dangerously incompetent is what he is saying. I want to give you a chance to respond.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I would not look to Ted Kennedy for guidance and leadership on how we ought to manage national security, Bob. I think what Senator Kennedy reflects is sort of the pre-9/11 mentality about how we ought to deal with the world and that part of the world.
We used to operate on the assumption before 9/11 that a criminal attack -- a terrorist attack was a criminal act, a law enforcement problem. We were hit repeatedly in the '90s and never responded effectively, and the terrorists came to believe not only could they strike us with impunity, but if they hit us hard enough, they could change our policy, because they did in Beirut in 1983, or Mogadishu in 1993.
We changed all that on 9/11. After they hit us and killed 3,000 of our people here at home, we said, enough is enough. We're going to aggressively go after them. We'll go after the terrorists wherever we find them. We'll go after those states that sponsor terror. We'll go after people that can provide them with weapons of mass destruction. We'll use our intelligence and our military services very aggressively. And we have.
We did in Afghanistan. We've done it in Pakistan. We're working with the Paks. We captured or killed hundreds of al Qaeda. We've done it in Saudi Arabia. And obviously, we're doing it now in Iraq. That kind of aggressive forward-leaning strategy is one of the main reasons we haven't been struck again since 9/11 because we've taken the fight to them.
Senator Kennedy's approach would be pack your bags and go home; retreat behind your oceans and assume you can be safe. But we learned on 9/11 that, in fact, what's going on 10,000 miles away in a place like Afghanistan, or Iraq can have a direct impact here in the United States when we lost 3,000 people that morning. And we know now that the biggest threat that we face of all isn't just another 9/11, it's a 9/11 where the terrorists have something like nuclear weapons, or a deadly biological agent to use against us.
The Iraq situation has to be viewed within the broader context of the global war on terror. It is a global conflict. You can't look just at Iraq and make decisions there with respect to how that's going to come out without having major consequences for everything that's going on. And I think we are going to succeed in Iraq. I think the evidence is overwhelming. I think Ted Kennedy has been wrong from the very beginning. He's the last man I'd go to for guidance in terms of how we should conduct U.S. national security policy.
Well said, Mr. Vice President.