Vice President Dick Cheney defended his controversial comment that the Iraqi insurgency is in its “last throes,” saying Thursday that the recent spike in violence is a final convulsion before the opposition forces collapse.
In a CNN interview, Cheney compared the recent fighting in Iraq to the Battle of the Bulge and combat on Okinawa in World War II, climactic confrontations that preceded the surrender of Germany and Japan.
“The toughest battles ... both in Europe and in the Pacific, occurred just a few months before the end,” said Cheney, who appeared as part of a broad administration effort to counter criticism of the war. “I see this as a similar situation, where they’re going to go all out. They’ll do everything they can to disrupt that process. But I think we’re strong enough to defeat them.”
Since Cheney referred to the insurgency’s “last throes” last month, militants have unleashed dozens of attacks claiming hundreds of lives. Cheney’s comment has been cited by numerous politicians of both major parties as an example of the administration’s overly optimistic portrayal of the war.
In Senate testimony on Thursday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and senior U.S. military leaders made clear they believe that U.S. forces face a long road in Iraq. Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top American commander in the Persian Gulf, said the insurgency is about the same as it was six months ago but he believed there were now more foreign fighters coming into the country.
Last week, President Bush ducked the question of whether he agreed with Cheney’s view. Bush said he understood “how dangerous it is there.”
In the CNN interview Thursday, Cheney cited the dictionary definition. “If you look at what the dictionary says about ‘throes,’ it can be a, you know, a violent period, the throes of a revolution,” he said.
Cheney also defended the treatment of more than 500 suspected militants held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“They got a brand-new facility down at Guantanamo,” Cheney said. “We spent a lot of money to build it. They’re very well treated down there. They’re living in the tropics. They’re well fed. They’ve got everything they could possibly want.... There isn’t any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we’re treating these people.”