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Parting shots

"Parting shots" Continued...

To some extent, clearly, what drives our consumption and our development and production of energy, and especially our ability to move into alternative sources is the price level for petroleum products. It's so central to the economy. Then when the price goes up, then people obviously become more interested in and supportive of-and Congress does, of course-supporting alternative technologies. But when the price comes down, it sort of relieves the pressure, and everybody goes back to business as usual.

I think there's-the market works, and it does in fact function, and it affects people's vanguard.
AP: Let's move to Iran. Steve Hadley, just the other day, he said he thought that Iran was going to be Obama's biggest challenge in the Middle East. I was wondering if you shared that view?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: There's no question that it will be right at the top of the list. That-say it's number one, perhaps, but there are other concerns I think in the region too. But obviously, we are-we've been focused on Iran for a long time, continue to be focused on them. I'm sure to the extent that Obama pays any attention, he hopefully will, to the advice he gets from this administration on our way out, then Iran will be one of the things he'll focus on.
AP: Do you think the American people should be more-should fear more Iran's possible acquisition of a nuclear weapon, or do you think that they should more fear the-their backing of extremists?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Well, the thing I'm concerned about when we talk about Iran is a combination of things. The fact that they are one of the proudest sponsors of terror in the world. And they are the prime suppliers and supporters, creators of Hezbollah working out of Lebanon and was responsible among other things for blowing up the Marine barracks in Lebanon in '83 and killing 240 Marines.

They have been the prime supporters of Hamas, currently creating great difficulties obviously with respect to the Israelis and the peace process. They have continued to aggressively pursue nuclear weapons, in terms of their efforts to enrich uranium to produce fissile materials so they can build a bomb. One of the things I worry about most is that linkage between a government that supports terror and terrorists on the one hand, and on the other hand is developing a number of deadlier of weapons. And I think that's a combination that is a scary prospect, and ought to be.
AP: Do you think that more sanctions are needed, or do you guys-
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Like sanctions-
AP: -think more sanctions are needed by the U.S. and other countries, maybe?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Well, we've done a lot, but we've not yet been successful at stopping their efforts to develop that capacity. We've worked through the United Nations-
AP: Is it just we haven't waited long enough for them to work, or do we need more?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Well, I think you need to stay ahead. And we're going to be here for, what, 10 more days? So we've done a lot, but clearly more is required.
AP: President Bush's axis of evil at the beginning, was Iran, Iraq-pre-war Iraq, and North Korea. So as we leave, what would you say it would be now?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Well, clearly I think we've made major progress in Iraq. I think if you were to sit down five years ago and look at our objectives in Iraq, you'd have to say today that we've come pretty close to achieving it. We've got-we've taken Saddam's regime, we have-
AP: We're going to get to Iraq.
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Well, I'm on a roll now. If I stop, I'll forget.
AP: OK. (Laughter.)
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: We have facilitated the creation of a democracy there, they've written a constitution, held three national elections. They've become a fairly strong government, in terms of dealing with the basic responsibilities in Iraq. They've just entered into a Strategic Framework Agreement with the United States that will gradually reduce the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq over time. The level of violence is down, the lowest level, really, since '03. I mean, those are all things that I would look at and say, that looks like success to me, like in fact we've come close to achieving the objectives we had in Iraq.
AP: Obviously, the surge has been deemed a success in tamping down the violence. My question is, why did it take so long to change the gears of the strategy?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: You mean, in terms of deciding to go with the surge?
AP: Yes.
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Well, the way I look at it is different, perhaps, than what some other people would look at it. I think the surge was important; it was a vital decision by the President, and it was a combination both of sending five additional brigades, which was about 30,000 troops-not hundreds of thousands or some-well, perhaps that would have solved the problem, but about 30,000 troops-and a new strategy, in terms of counterinsurgency efforts.

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