Cheney Defends Troop Surge At Manhattan Event
04/21/2008 09:12 AM
A day after the pope blessed the World Trade Center site, Vice President Dick Cheney was in Manhattan Monday, where he said a troop withdrawal from Iraq would increase the odds of future terror attacks in the United States.
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Speaking to members of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank in Midtown, the vice president defended the surge of troops.
"Those who insist that we leave Iraq should at least give some thought to what we leave behind," Cheney said, who suggested that what would be left is a collapsed country, ripe to breed the kind of terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks.
Cheney said that withdrawing troops would create a "massive setback." The vice president used Afghanistan of the 1980s as a case in point.
After the Soviet Union left Afghanistan following a proxy war during the 1980s, American support of insurgents slowly ended. Cheney says that triggered the country's collapse, allowing the Taliban to enter and, eventually, offer safe haven to Osama bin Laden.
"He did that, set up training camps, trained an estimated 20,000 terrorists in the late 90s, some of whom came here to New York on 9/11 and killed thousands of Americans," said Cheney.
Turning to Iraq, the vice president implied Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who favor withdrawing troops, are "inviting the same kind of outcome as in Afghanistan."
"Failure in Iraq would embolden al-Qaeda and other like-minded groups, by handing them a staging area for further attacks with America as the target," said Cheney.
But what Cheney didn't mention was that al-Qaeda was not in Iraq until after the U.S. invasion and that the U.S.-supported Afghan factions that supported bin Laden.
The war in Iraq isn't just central to the presidential race, it's also reappearing in another heated bid to unseat the city's only Republican Congressman.
Later, the vice president headlined a fundraiser for Staten Island and Brooklyn representative Vito Fossella. He again faces backlash for backing President George W. Bush. Neither he nor his aides would comment on the meeting with Cheney, at the home of a billionaire oil businessman.