FULL INTERVIEW: Vice President Dick Cheney

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I am confident because I've worked over the years with both the Iraqi people that are involved, as well as the Americans that are involved; because I know the effort and the sacrifice that have been made by the men and women of the United States military; because I know and have watched people commit their lives in Iraq to this enterprise who have lost family members or been seriously threatened themselves by virtue of the fact they've been willing to sign on with Americans and be part of the enterprise.

There are millions of people all over the Middle East that have bet on America; that have been willing, for example, in Afghanistan, to participate in elections, to serve in their parliament, to get elected President, to sign up for the Afghan security forces. Same thing in Iraq. These are people that put their lives on the line every single day, and they're there because the United States is there, because we've made the commitment, because we've chipped in and sent our own forces to participate in this enterprise. And all of that goes up in a puff of smoke when the United States quits; when we decide all of a sudden, well, it's too tough; we're going to pack our bags and go home. That's not the way you achieve the change we're trying to achieve here.

It is hard. It has been difficult. No question it's been costly, in terms of treasure and life, but it's worth it. And we are going to get it right. As I watch events unfold, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, I am convinced that we are changing the course of history, and it was absolutely the right thing to do.

RADDATZ: One of the things that troops have said to me, and their families, in talking to a lot of them, is that they are the only ones sacrificing. They look at the rest of the country, and say, no sacrifice was really made. Was it a mistake not to involve the country to a greater degree?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think -- I'm not sure how you would have involved them to a greater degree. We've made this probably the most important priority of our administration. We talk about it all the time.

RADDATZ: What sacrifice have most Americans made?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think they've been asked to support the effort and the enterprise. But it's not the kind of thing, for example, where you would have wanted to institute a draft. We've got an all-volunteer force; it's one of our great assets, one of our great national assets. I suppose you could have created a sense of sacrifice if you'd gone back to the draft, but that would have, in my opinion, done serious damage to the state of our military. We built a volunteer force because that was a decision we made 30 years ago, and it's been a very good -- a good decision.

I think in terms of sacrifice, obviously we've expended considerable public funds on this enterprise, and those are funds that could have been used for some other purpose. But we think this is the most important use that we could put them to. The country has, in fact, supported financially the endeavors we've been involved in.

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