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"We Will Not Live at the Mercy of Terrorists"

Vice President Dick Cheney lays out a compelling case for action against Saddam Hussein.

1:07 PM, Aug 26, 2002 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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I WANTED to call your attention to the highly significant speech delivered today to the Veterans of Foreign Wars by Vice President Dick Cheney. The vice president lays out more comprehensively and forcefully than any senior administration official has so far the need for regime change in Iraq and the likelihood that preemptive military action will be required to achieve this result, and he responds effectively to recent critics of the Bush Doctrine.

The debate in the administration is over. The time for action grows near. Congressional leaders should seriously consider a resolution authorizing use of force when they return next week. Passing such a resolution as soon as possible would provide the president with maximum flexibility and an opportunity for tactical surprise, would strengthen his hand vis-a-vis our allies, and might embolden internal opposition in Iraq.

VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY'S August 26, 2002 remarks in Nashville, Tennessee:

(Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much.

Thank you, Jim. And I appreciate your introduction and your strong leadership for the VFW. And I especially appreciate your warm welcome. I've been looking forward to this opportunity to visit the historic city of Nashville and to being with the members of the VFW and the Ladies Auxiliary.

I see many good friends here in the audience this morning. And though I have attended your convention in the past, it's a special privilege to stand before you today for the first time as vice president of the United States. (Applause.) And it's my great honor to serve with a commander-in-chief every soldier and every veteran can be proud of, President George W. Bush. (Cheers, applause.)

I'm grateful to Jim Goldsmith and Diana Stout for their hard work on behalf of the nation's veterans and military personnel. I also want to thank Bob Wallace, your fine executive director, who runs the Washington office. And permit me to be among the first to wish great success to Ray Sisk of California, who will accede Jim this--succeed Jim this Friday as the VFW commander-in-chief, and Betty Morris of Maryland, the incoming national president of the Ladies Auxiliary. I know Ray and Betty will do a superb job.

As members of the VFW, you are united by common experiences and shared commitments. In the military, you devoted yourselves to a cause above self-interest, served with a firm sense of duty and developed personal standards that make you an example for your families and your fellow citizens. The daughters of an Army Air Corpsman described growing up with her father and the values she learned from him without even knowing it. As she recalls, "Honesty, integrity, hard work, personal responsibility and perseverance were all around me. And I absorbed them almost imperceptibly."

Our veterans have had a similar effect on the entire nation. Those values are embodied in this organization. In the VFW, our nation sees a continuing ethic of service, shown in the time, talent and money you've given to citizens in need.

Last year alone VFW members gave more than 16 million hours to worthy causes. Your Operation Uplink has allowed service members and hospitalized veterans to make free calls home. I know they and their families are deeply grateful to all of you.

The VFW also serves the nation by leading on a range of important issues, such as health care and education, employment opportunities and homeland security, military readiness and the quality of life for our service families. The VFW stands firm for protecting our country's flag and for defending the right of every American to pledge allegiance to one nation under God. (Applause.)

Our administration is proud to have the strong ties with the leadership and the membership of the VFW. We believe that in dealing with the federal government every veteran deserves a response that is fair, respectful and prompt. (Applause.)

We are working every day to improve the level of service to our veterans. On taking office, we found a large claims backlog numbering in the hundreds of thousands. The backlog is falling steadily, as is the average time for processing each claim. But there's a lot more work to be done, and Americans' (sic) veterans can now be certain that someone is doing it. The president put a solid, results-oriented veteran in charge of the department, Secretary Tony Principi. Under our administration, you won't receive excuses, you will receive action. (Applause.)