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Cheney says Kerry holds US allies in 'contempt'
Wed Mar 17 2004 15:39:34 ET

If John Kerry had been in charge during last year's Iraq war and the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein would still be in control of Iraq and Kuwait, Vice President Dick Cheney said on Wednesday.

Kerry has accused President George W. Bush of isolating the United States in the world by failing to build international support for the invasion of Iraq one year ago.

But Cheney said: "Of the many nations that have joined our coalition, allies and friends of the United States, Senator Kerry speaks with open contempt.

"Great Britain, Australia, Italy, Spain, Poland, and more than 20 other nations have contributed and sacrificed for the freedom of the Iraqi people," Cheney said in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.

"Senator Kerry calls these countries, quote, 'window-dressing'. They are in his words, a coalition of the coerced and the bribed.

Cheney went on: "How would Senator Kerry describe Great Britain? Coerced, or bribed? Or Italy, which recently lost 19 citizens killed by terrorists in Najaf.

"Was Italy's contribution just window-dressing?"

Cheney said that the Democratic contender "speaks as if only those who openly opposed America's objectives have a chance of earning his respect."

The vice president also highlighted Kerry's voting record in the Senate on Iraq and other military issues.

Cheney told how Kerry voted against the 1991 Gulf War, but supported strong international action against Saddam in 1997, called for regime change in Iraq in 1998 and then voted in favour of military action against Iraq in a Congress resolution in October 2002.

Kerry has since said that the president decieved Congress into passing the vote. But Cheney said: "Had the decision belonged to Senator Kerry, Saddam hussein would still be in power today in Iraq.

"In fact, Saddam Hussein would almost certainly still be in control of Kuwait."

The vice president said: "The American people will have a clear choice in the election of 2004."

Refering to the September 11, 2001 attacks and the ensuing war on terror, Cheney said that the Republican president "has built a national security record of his own."

"He saw America through tragedy. He has kept the nation's enemies in desperate flight. And under his leadership, our country has once again led the armies of liberation, freeing 50 million souls (in Afghanistan and Iraq) from tyranny and making our nation and the world more secure."


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