Tomorrow is the deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq, a date Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is calling a “great victory.” But in a new interview with Washington Times radio, Vice President Cheney was still pushing the U.S. to stay in Iraq, saying that withdrawal would “waste” the sacrifice of U.S. troops:
Mr. Cheney told The Washington Times’ America’s Morning News radio show that he is a strong believer in Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and that the general is doing what needs to be done.
“But what he says concerns me: That there is still a continuing problem. One might speculate that insurgents are waiting as soon as they get an opportunity to launch more attacks.
“I hope Iraqis can deal with it. At some point they have to stand on their own. But I would not want to see the U.S. waste all the tremendous sacrifice that has gotten us to this point.“
Cheney said that he respects Odierno, who is concerned that there “is still a continuing problem.” Cheney was referencing Odierno’s comments from a CNN interview yesterday. However, Cheney left out the rest of the general’s comments, in which he said that he doesn’t see such “a breakdown in stability” likely to happen:
ODIERNO: Well, again, I think — I think it has to do with if we see a breakdown in stability in Iraq; if we see a consistent increase in violence; if we see that the Iraqi security forces aren’t able to respond; if we have some event that it caused some instability, then that would cause us to, maybe, after we’re asked by the government of Iraq, to help.
I don’t see that right now. I believe we’re on the right path. And I want to make sure you understand that. I believe we are still on the right path. I think security and stability is headed in the right direction as we move through 30 June.
Furthermore, in an interview with CBS yesterday, U.S. ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill said that in “overall trends, you see that violence in this year, ’09, are considerably less. … We think, we are certainly ready to make this move and most importantly we believe the Iraqi forces are ready to take over this mission.”
Cheney has long been fear-mongering on U.S. withdrawal, hoping to keep troops in Iraq as long as possible. In April 2008 he made the misleading claim that al Qaeda would “acquire control” of Iraq’s oil resources if the U.S. left, also compared withdrawal to “betrayal.”