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Interview of the Vice President
Date:12/6/2007

ur involvement overseas -- Iraq, Afghanistan and so forth -- I believe the prime enemy we face there has been al Qaeda. I think that's been true in Iraq, as well. Al Qaeda in Iraq has been sort of the long pole in the tent, if you will, in terms of the opposition we face. There have been other elements involved -- we've had some Shia-on-Sunni conflict and so forth -- but a lot of that was stimulated by al Qaeda. Zarqawi goes and blows up the mosque at Samarrain order to precipitate Shia reaction against the Sunni. And for us in the global war on terror, Iraq has been the central front vis-a-vis al Qaeda. That's how they see it. That's what they say when they want to describe it.

If you look at their strategy, it hasn't changed a lot. It's based on the proposition not that they can defeat us, not that can beat us in a stand- up fight -- they can't, they never have -- it's based on the proposition that if they kill enough Americans, they can change American policy. And they cite, as examples of that, Beirut, 1983: Kill 241 Marines and you can get the Americans to withdraw from Lebanon. We did within a matter of months. Or Mogadishu in '93.

So with that basic fundamental proposition, if we were to withdraw precipitously from Iraq, for example, without completing the mission, I think that would validate the al Qaeda strategy. It would say to them they're right, that they're -- for the United States to conduct ourselves in a way that validates the al Qaeda strategy is exactly the wrong thing to do. I think, among other things, it would encourage them to launch further attacks. I think it would encourage them, if we were to operate in a way that said, you're right, if you kill enough Americans, you can change U.S. policy, they'll kill more Americans.

That's sort of the general view I have of the world. And I think in terms of going forward, it's very important for us to succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan; that those are not isolated incidents. The notion
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SOURCE White House Press Office
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