'This Week' Transcript: Former Vice President Dick Cheney

KARL: Let me ask you: Did you advocate a harder line, including in the military area, in those -- in those final months?

CHENEY: Usually.

KARL: And with respect to Iran?

CHENEY: Well, I -- I made public statements to the effect that I felt very strongly that we had to have the military option, that it had to be on the table, that it had to be a meaningful option, and that we might well have to resort to military force in order to deal with the threat that Iran represented. The problem here being that a nuclear-armed Iran is a huge threat to that entire part of the world and, indeed, to the United States.

KARL: Was it -- was it a...

CHENEY: We never got to the point where the president had to make a decision one way or the other.

KARL: Was that a mistake? Was it a mistake to leave that nuclear capability intact?

CHENEY: Well, we -- we did a lot, because we were very concerned about nuclear capability in the hands of rogue states or potentially shared with terrorist organizations, and we were successful in taking down, for example, Saddam Hussein, who had messed with nuclear weapons twice previously, taking down the A.Q. Khan network, a black-market operation that was providing technology to the North Koreans, Iranians, and Libyans. We successfully obtained all the Libyan materials for their nuclear program, so we got a lot done.

We didn't get everything done. We still -- when we finished, there still was the ongoing Iranian problem and the ongoing North Korean problem. Both of them remain to be addressed.

KARL: I'd like to get your response to Sarah Palin's recent comments on Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: Say he decided to declare war on Iran or decided really to come out and do whatever he could to support Israel, which I would like him to do, if he decided to toughen up and do all that he can to secure our nation and our allies, I think people would perhaps shift their thinking a little bit and decide, well, maybe he's tougher than we think he -- than he is today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: She's, of course, talking about President Obama, seemed to be implying that this would be a good political move for him. What's your take?

CHENEY: I don't think a president can make a judgment like that on the basis of politics. The stakes are too high, the consequences too significant to be treating those as simple political calculations. When you begin to talk about war, talk about crossing international borders, you talk about committing American men and women to combat, that takes place on a plane clear above any political consideration.

KARL: So...

CHENEY: So I'd be -- I'd be very cautious about treating that kind of issue on those kinds of conditions.

KARL: We're almost out of time. We're going to get you very quickly on a few other subjects. First of all, one more on Palin. Is she qualified to be president?

CHENEY: I haven't made a decision yet on who I'm going to support for president the next time around. Whoever it is, is going to have to prove themselves capable of being president of the United States. And those tests will -- will come during the course of campaigns, obviously. I think -- well, I think all the prospective candidates out there have got a lot of work to do if, in fact, they're going to persuade a majority of Americans that they're ready to take on the world's toughest job.

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