Cheney on Iraq: 'It's Important to Win'


Petraeus has spoken on the record about his desire for a pause, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates has publicly endorsed the idea. If the security situation is stable, Petraeus will likely signal that the drawdown can continue in the fall.

When asked about the possibility of resuming a U.S. military drawdown from Iraq in the fall, Cheney said what's important is that the U.S. succeeds in Iraq.

"That isn't the way I think about it," Cheney said, referring to the possibility of a drawdown. "It's important to achieve victory in Iraq. It's important to win, to succeed in the objective that we've established."

"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," Cheney said. "Conditions on the ground will determine that."

Cheney Slams Democratic Candidates

Cheney dismissed the suggestion that a drawdown would be an important message to the Iraqi government that the United States wasn't staying indefinitely in the country.

"The idea that we can walk away from Iraq is, I think, terribly damaging on its face, and to say that, 'well that's the only way we can get the Iraqis to take on responsibility,' I don't believe that's the case," he said.

Without addressing the Democratic candidates specifically, the vice president said those who want to pull out of Iraq are "seriously misguided." He said the presidential candidates would be risking an attack on the homeland if US forces withdrew, arguing that terrorists would find safe havens in other countries.

Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both have said they'd withdraw US forces from Iraq if elected president. Sen. John McCain has advocated a continued U.S. presence in Iraq until security and political situations improve.

When asked if he was talking about any candidate in particular, Cheney said, "I am talking about any candidate for high office who believes the solution for our problem in that part of the world is to walk away from the commitments that we've made in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere."

Today the Democratic presidential candidates commented on the milestone of 4,000 US military dead in the war.

Tens of thousands of our brave men and women have also suffered serious wounds, both visible and invisible to their bodies their minds and their hearts," Clinton said Monday in Philadelphia. "As president, I intend to honor their extraordinary service and the sacrifice of them and their families by ending this war and bringing them home as quickly and responsibly as possible."

In a released statement, Obama said: "It is past time to end this war that should never have been waged by bringing our troops home, and finally pushing Iraq's leaders to take responsibility for their future."

The 4,000 U.S. killed in Iraq figure includes seven civilians who worked for the military services while serving in Iraq.

Last week Cheney made headlines when asked about recent polls that show about two-thirds of Americans say the fight in Iraq is not worth it.

"So?" Cheney replied during that interview. "You don't care what the American people think?" Raddatz asked the vice president at the time.

"You can't be blown off course by polls," Cheney said during that interview.

Today, Cheney defended that answer.

"Look, there are alot of people out there, Martha, that don't agree with me about a lot of things, but if I wanted to be loved, I'd ought to be a TV correspondent, not a politician," he said.

With files from ABC News' Jonathan Karl and Luis Martinez.

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