Thursday, March 18, 2004

Cheney's Speech

Opinionjournal has a transcript of Cheney's speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on Wednesday. It's clearly a campaign speech, divided equally between praise for Bush and put downs for Kerry. I noticed immediately that it hits on many themes which the blogosphere has been saying that Bush needs to put forward in his campaign. Either the blogosphere's becoming more influential, or we're just pointing out the obvious. As an example, Cheney stresses the need to go on the offensive against terrorism:
This great and urgent responsibility has required a shift in national security policy. For many years prior to 9/11, we treated terror attacks against Americans as isolated incidents, and answered--if at all--on an ad hoc basis, and never in a systematic way. Even after an attack inside our own country--the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center, in New York--there was a tendency to treat terrorist incidents as individual criminal acts, to be handled primarily through law enforcement. The man who perpetrated that attack in New York was tracked down, arrested, convicted and sent off to serve a 240-year sentence. Yet behind that one man was a growing network with operatives inside and outside the United States, waging war against our country.

For us, that war started on 9/11. For them, it started years before. After the World Trade Center attack in 1993 came the murders at the Saudi Arabia National Guard Training Center in Riyadh, in 1995; the simultaneous bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in 1998; the attack on the USS Cole, in 2000. In 1996, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad--the mastermind of 9/11--first proposed to Osama bin Laden that they use hijacked airliners to attack targets in the U.S. During this period, thousands of terrorists were trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. And we have seen the work of terrorists in many attacks since 9/11--in Riyadh, Casablanca, Istanbul, Mombasa, Bali, Jakarta, Najaf, Baghdad and, most recently, Madrid.

Against this kind of determined, organized, ruthless enemy, America requires a new strategy--not merely to prosecute a series of crimes, but to fight and win a global campaign against the terror network. Our strategy has several key elements. We have strengthened our defenses here at home, organizing the government to protect the homeland. But a good defense is not enough. The terrorist enemy holds no territory, defends no population, is unconstrained by rules of warfare, and respects no law of morality. Such an enemy cannot be deterred, contained, appeased or negotiated with. It can only be destroyed--and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the business at hand.

This leads into the appropriate attack on John Kerry later in the speech: "In his defense, of course, Sen. Kerry has questioned whether the war on terror is really a war at all. Recently he said, and I quote, 'I don't want to use that terminology.' In his view, opposing terrorism is far less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering, law enforcement operation."

About Kerry's claim of support from foreign leaders, and his refusal to say who they are, Cheney has this to say:
A few days ago in Pennsylvania, a voter asked Sen. Kerry directly who these foreign leaders are. Sen. Kerry said, "That's none of your business." But it is our business when a candidate for president claims the political endorsement of foreign leaders. At the very least, we have a right to know what he is saying to foreign leaders that makes them so supportive of his candidacy. American voters are the ones charged with determining the outcome of this election--not unnamed foreign leaders.

Which is a point that bears repeating. It is the business of the voters what Kerry is saying to foreign leaders, since we are the ones who will decide whether he will be running our foreign policy.

Cheney also takes Kerry to task on his promises to rebuild alliances while he simultaneously attacks them:
Sen. Kerry speaks often about the need for international cooperation, and has vowed to usher in a "golden age of American diplomacy." He is fond of mentioning that some countries did not support America's actions in Iraq. Yet of the many nations that have joined our coalition--allies and friends of the United States--Sen. Kerry speaks with open contempt. Great Britain, Australia, Italy, Spain, Poland and more than 20 other nations have contributed and sacrificed for the freedom of the Iraqi people. Sen. Kerry calls these countries, quote, "window dressing." They are, in his words, "a coalition of the coerced and the bribed."

Many questions come to mind, but the first is this: How would Sen. Kerry describe Great Britain--coerced, or bribed? Or Italy--which recently lost 19 citizens, killed by terrorists in Najaf--was Italy's contribution just window dressing? If such dismissive terms are the vernacular of the golden age of diplomacy Sen. Kerry promises, we are left to wonder which nations would care to join any future coalition. He speaks as if only those who openly oppose America's objectives have a chance of earning his respect. Sen. Kerry's characterization of our good allies is ungrateful to nations that have withstood danger, hardship, and insult for standing with America in the cause of freedom.

Cheney also addresses on Kerry's flip-flopping on the issue of Iraq:
A neutral observer, looking at these elements of Sen. Kerry's record, would assume that Sen. Kerry supported military action against Saddam Hussein. The senator himself now tells us otherwise. In January he was asked on TV if he was, "one of the antiwar candidates." He replied, "I am." He now says he was voting only to "threaten the use of force," not actually to use force.

And of Kerry's hypocrisy in attacking Bush's lack of adequate support for the troops while voting against the supplemental funding bill:
Sen. Kerry has also had a few things to say about support for our troops now on the ground in Iraq. Among other criticisms, he has asserted that those troops are not receiving the materiel support they need. Just this morning, he again gave the example of body armor, which he said our administration failed to supply. May I remind the senator that last November, at the president's request, Congress passed an $87 billion supplemental appropriation. This legislation was essential to our ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan--providing funding for body armor and other vital equipment; hazard pay; health benefits; ammunition; fuel, and spare parts for our military. The legislation passed overwhelmingly, with a vote in the Senate of 87-12. Sen. Kerry voted "no." I note that yesterday, attempting to clarify the matter, Sen. Kerry said, quote, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." It's a true fact.

Finally, Cheney notes that Kerry's Senate voting record on Defense is one of the worst in the country:
On national security, the senator has shown at least one measure of consistency. Over the years, he has repeatedly voted against weapons systems for the military. He voted against the Apache helicopter, against the Tomahawk cruise missile, against even the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. He has also been a reliable vote against military pay increases--opposing them no fewer than 12 times.

Many of these very weapons systems have been used by our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are proving to be valuable assets in the war on terror.

There's so much stuff on Senator Kerry that I kept thinking it was the majority of the speech, when in fact it was less than half. And all of these talking points have been brought up on the blogosphere in the preceding months, including many of the old quotes of Kerry from the nineties which Cheney uses.

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