Cheney : Military action still an option with Iran

Cheney : Military action still an option with Iran

The Dallas Morning News
November 3, 2007

Vice President Dick Cheney said Friday that peaceful measures to prevent Iran from menacing the Middle East and developing a nuclear weapons program have not yet worked, leaving military action as a possible solution.

“Nobody wants to resolve this in any means other than peacefully, if it’s at all possible,” Mr. Cheney told the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.

“But in the final analysis, the worst outcome would be a situation in which Iran is sort of let loose, if you will, in that part of the world with an inventory of nuclear weapons prepared to be used against other nations in the region or to dominate that part of the globe and to threaten not only the United States, but many of our friends and allies out there as well.”

In his speech, Mr. Cheney also rejected proposals that have arisen in Congress to defund the war in Iraq or to immediately withdraw or set a timeline for troop removal there.

“We will prevail in the long run by holding up an alternative to the ideologies of hatred and resentment,” he said. “A free democratic Iraq will be a strategic partner in the heart of the Middle East, helping us fight and win the war on terror.”

The vice president said Iran was trying to topple the government of Lebanon, supporting insurgents inside Iraq and Afghanistan, and enriching uranium, which could be used for a nuclear weapon.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, and it has denied providing military support for insurgents in Iraq. In Lebanon, Iran has supported the militant Hezbollah movement, which opposes the pro-Western government.

Mr. Cheney said Iranian leaders must be stopped.

“The president’s made it clear that we have taken no options off the table,” Mr. Cheney said. “It’s the only responsible position for him to take.”

Mr. Cheney’s speech comes a day after Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that Iranian leaders have given assurances that they will try to stop the flow of projectiles and other weapons from Iran to Iraq.

Dr. Gates, however, said that he didn’t know whether to believe the Iranians and that it was too early to tell if the flow of weapons had been reduced.

One expert said it’s unlikely the U.S. would go to war with Iran.

“Because there is no political consensus in the United States to take military action against Iran, and because our military options are limited because of what’s going on in Iraq, the situation is different,” said Jon Wolfsthal, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

But Mr. Cheney “doesn’t want Iran’s leaders to feel so comfortable that they can do anything they want, and he wants them to think about the consequences,” Mr. Wolfsthal said

Mr. Wolfsthal said there were other options in between war and diplomacy, including the use of covert actions and remotely piloted crafts that could be used in strikes.

“The president is clearly trying to keep Iran’s leaders guessing, but in my view there are no good military options,” he said.

Mr. Cheney spent much of his short speech discussing the dangers of a premature withdrawal from Iraq.

He said that security in Baghdad and elsewhere was improving and that there was evidence the troop surge in Iraq was working.

But he added there were difficult days ahead and the country should not lose its resolve.

He likened an early departure from Iraq to the U.S. decision to “walk away” from Afghanistan after the Soviet Union withdrew more than two decades ago, leading to renewed war and an eventual takeover by the Taliban, which provided a haven for al-Qaeda.

“No one can now plead ignorance of the potential consequences of walking away from Iraq, of withdrawing coalition forces before Iraqis can defend themselves or control their sovereign territory,” Mr. Cheney said. “Every tyrant in that region and well beyond would take note of our failed resolve, and friend and foe alike would decide that America’s word cannot be trusted.

“This would only dissipate much of the effort that’s already gone into fighting the global war on terror, and the blows would rain down heavily on those who had had the courage to stand with America in this conflict.”

Friday was a homecoming of sorts for Mr. Cheney, who lived in Dallas for five years while he was CEO of Halliburton Co. when it was based here.

The vice president spoke to the World Affairs Council for about 15 minutes before answering questions that were submitted in advance.

He addressed a question that has dogged the White House since the U.S. invaded Iraq: Is this all about oil?

No, Mr. Cheney said. It just so happens that the Middle East has a lot of oil, and the U.S. consumes a lot of oil. But the U.S. leaders don’t pursue politics to benefit any one particular industry, he said.

He added: “We didn’t go into the Middle East – we didn’t go into Afghanistan because of oil. Afghanistan doesn’t have any oil.”

When asked to comment on Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, Mr. Cheney visibly held himself back.

“Diplomacy is hard sometimes,” he said to the crowd, which included Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

Venezuela cut Exxon and other major oil companies out of a major oil field in the country by altering their contracts, and Exxon has filed for international arbitration.

Mr. Cheney also expressed support for building more nuclear power plants in the U.S.

“It’s important from an environmental standpoint,” he said, referring to the fact that nuclear plants don’t emit pollution or greenhouse gases, though they create nuclear waste.

“It’s good, safe technology, and there’s no reason in the world not to use it,” he added.

More than 75 protesters crowded onto a narrow strip of grass outside the Hyatt Regency Dallas, where Mr. Cheney spoke.

And two hecklers managed to make it into the lunch.

While answering audience questions that were read by a moderator, Mr. Cheney was heckled by a war protester wearing a T-shirt that said: “End the War in Iraq Now.” She stood up at the back of room and said, “Don’t attack Iran!”

She was led away by event staff and security.

A few minutes later, a man shouted something similar and was also ushered out. The vice president appeared to hear the second heckler because he paused for a moment, but he made no mention of the interruption.

On Thursday Mr. Cheney headlined a fundraiser for Sen. John Cornyn and the National Republican Senatorial Committee at the home of Dan and Gail Cook.

Beforehand, the vice president went shopping with his wife, Lynne Cheney, at Highland Park Village.

Staff writer Elizabeth Souder contributed to this report.


Bolton: U.S. should pursue “regime change” in Iran

Iran Focus
November 4, 2007

London, Nov. 03 – Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton says he believes further negotiations will not convince Tehran to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program, and ultimately Washington should be considering to pursue a policy of “regime change” in Iran.

” I think diplomatic approaches are not going to stop Iran from continuing to perfect its nuclear-weapons programs”, Bolton told The New York Times Magazine in an interview to be published on Sunday. ” Our options are very limited and not all that attractive, one being regime change in Tehran, the other being the use of force”.

Asked why he believed Tehran should not have nuclear weapons, Bolton pointed to the theocratic nature of the regime.

“When you have a regime that would be happier in the afterlife than in this life, this is not a regime that is subject to classic theories of deterrence. Retaliation for them, which would obliterate their society, doesn’t have the same negative connotations for their leadership”, he said.

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