March 19, 2008 — -- Five years after the start of the war in Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney offered a positive assessment of the war today and called last year's troop surge a "major success."
"On the security front, I think there's a general consensus that we've made major progress, that the surge has worked. That's been a major success," Cheney told ABC News' Martha Raddatz.
When asked about how that jibes with recent polls that show about two-thirds of Americans say the fight in Iraq is not worth it, Cheney replied, "So?"
"You don't care what the American people think?" Raddatz asked the vice president.
"You can't be blown off course by polls," said Cheney, who is currently on a tour of the Middle East. "This president is very courageous and determined to go the course. There has been a huge fundamental change and transformation for the better. That's a huge accomplishment."
Since the war began, nearly 4,000 U.S. troops have been killed and more than 29,000 have been injured in the war, which has so far cost the United States roughly $600 billion, according to the Pentagon.
By some estimates, the war will end up costing Americans anywhere between $2 trillion and $4 trillion.
Cheney also touched on the current state of the economy, admitting, "we're clearly going through a rough patch." But the Bush administration has not said the United States is experiencing a recession.
Cheney said that the downturn can, in part, be blamed on natural economic cycles.
"We've had, prior to that, 52 months of uninterrupted economic growth," he said. "Now, of course, we've got problems in the housing industry, mortgage-backed securities and so forth that have created problems that we're having to deal with."