So Dick Cheney made another “surprise” visit to Iraq, did he? He last entered Iraq on December 18, 2005. He gave a brief speech to US Marines at Al-Asad Air Base, then took a few questions from the Leathernecks.
“From our perspective, we don’t see much as far as gains,” said Marine Cpl. Bradley Warren, the first to question Cheney in a round-table discussion with about 30 military members. “We’re looking at small-picture stuff, not many gains. I was wondering what it looks like from the big side of the mountain – how Iraq’s looking.”
Cheney replied that remarkable progress has been made in the last year and a half.
“I think when we look back from 10 years hence, we’ll see that the year ’05 was in fact a watershed year here in Iraq,” the vice president said. “We’re getting the job done. It’s hard to tell that from watching the news. But I guess we don’t pay that much attention to the news.”
Although he said that any decision about troop levels will be made by military commanders, Cheney told the troops, “I think you will see changes in our deployment patterns probably within this next year.”
Later that day Cheney agreed to an interview with ABC News’Terry Moran.
They’ve had three elections this year; each one has gotten better and stronger and more effective. I do think it’s serving to undermine the legitimacy of the insurgency. I think it will make it increasingly difficult for the insurgents to be effective.
And while the level of violence has continued, I do believe that when we look back on this period of time, 2005 will have been the turning point when, in fact, we made sufficient progress both on the political front and the security front so that we’ll see that as the watershed year.
And in response to another question…
And we had that election in January — first free election in Iraq in decades — and that we will be able to look back from the perspective of time, and see that 2005 was the turning point, was the watershed year, and that establishment of a legitimate government in Iraq, which is what that whole political process is about, means the end of the insurgency, ultimately.
That’s my point, that, in fact, the political process did proceed successfully, and that they have made every single milestone represents ultimately the end of the insurgency because there will be legitimate democratic government in Iraq. And I don’t think the insurgents will be able to stand up to it.
Yet here we are, 17 months later, with Cheney sneaking into Iraq. He’s no longer calling 2005 a “watershed year”, calling for a change in deployment patterns or predicting the end of the insurgency, is he?