Full Interview: Dick Cheney on Iraq

ABC: Okay, we won't go back and forth with the figures, but, but for instance, Captains, you lost a couple of thousand Captains who didn't reenlist because of deployments and because of these redeployments.

VP: Martha, I fundamentally believe that the force is in great shape, that the men and women who serve deserve the thanks of all of us as do their families who oftentimes bear a heavy, heavy burden. And I can't say enough good about them or their commitment or the repeated demonstrations of their loyalty and their honor to go participate in whatever they're called upon to do.

ABC: Gen. Petraeus has talked about having a pause after the drawdown in July. Do you think it's important after that, and I think he's talked about six to eight weeks after that, or eight to ten weeks for a pause, do you think it's important to continue a drawdown in the fall, if possible?

VP: I say it's important to continue the drawdown, that isn't the way I think about it. It's important to achieve victory in Iraq. It's important to win, to succeed in the objective that we've established. The question about what force level that takes is a judgment that's based upon the recommendations the commander in the field. Um, obviously we look at the advice, for example, from Ryan Crocker, our Ambassador that's there as well, too. All of this goes through the chain-of-command in the Pentagon. The Joint Chiefs have an opportunity for input and advice. The Secretary comes in. All of this goes to the President with a set of recommendations. But the, the criteria that will be applied is how do we make certain that we succeed in Iraq? And it may be that we can make judgements about reductions down the road and the President will make those when the time arrives, but I don't think he's likely to try and say now what the force ought to be at the end of the year. Conditions on the ground will determine that.

ABC: I guess, I guess the other think I would say is to put more pressure on the Iraqi government. Is that not a consideration for any sort of drawdown?--

VP: I don't bother with that analysis. (Stepped on) That argument I've heard made by our Democratic friends. But as I look at that, um, I don't think that's the way to achieve what we want to achieve here. Having made the commitment and the sacrifice and spent five years now. We're on our way to achieving our objective. The surge has been remarkably successful and there's no reason now to decide what the force level is going to be in December of oh-eight. What you do want to do is we'll see whether or not we should continue the current effort to get down to pre-surge levels which everybody expects we will do. And then based on conditions at the time, then I'm sure the President in the future will make judgments about further drawdowns.

ABC: Speaking of the President and the future--

VP: And the last time we came to one of these points, we had all this wisdom that obviously he's going to want to reduce troop levels and he didn't. He added five more brigades. That was the right call to make. He didn't follow conventional wisdom and I doubt that he will this time either. He'll make a decision based on what he thinks it takes to succeed.

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