The Bush administration is defending
the high cost of the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. The latest administration
statements come as a new opinion poll suggests most Americans have concerns about
the president's request for $87 billion for military operations and reconstruction
efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Three top administration officials appeared
on American television Sunday to make the case for the administration's request
for the additional funds.
On NBC's Meet the Press, Vice President Dick Cheney said, in effect, that
the United States has no choice.
"It's a significant expense," he acknowledged. "No question about it. But
it is going to be much more expensive down the road if we wait. It is less
money, frankly, than the events of 9/11 imposed on us here in the United States."
Mr. Cheney hinted the White House may ultimately have to ask Congress for
even more money, and he said he does not know how long American troops will
be deployed in large numbers in Iraq. But he made clear there is no turning
"This is about a continuing operation in the war on terror. And it is very
important that we get it right," he said.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld picked up the theme on the CBS program, Face
"It's a lot better to be fighting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan than
it is in the United States," defended Mr. Rumsfeld.
Mr. Rumsfeld was asked about a new poll conducted by The Washington Post newspaper
and ABC television that indicates many Americans are concerned about the $87
billion spending request. Six out of 10 of those polled said they do not support
the proposal. The secretary of defense said the public really has to understand
that the goal extends far beyond rebuilding Iraq.
"What this proposal by the president really does is say, 'look, we have a
chance to put that country on a path to democracy, a path towards representative
government, a path so that you'll have a country that is friendly with its
neighbors, instead of invading its neighbors. And that will be a very good
thing for that region. It will be a very good thing for the world,'" he explained.
Also appearing Sunday on American television was Secretary of State Colin Powell,
who spoke from Baghdad, where he met with senior officials of the Iraqi interim
government and the U.S. led provisional authority. He talked about Bush administration
efforts to get a new U.N. resolution on Iraq that would encourage international
contributions of troops and money.
He said once again that a demand from France for a quick turnover to Iraqi
control will not work, that more time is needed for a smooth transition. He
went on to say that the job will get done sooner, if more foreign troops are
sent to Iraq to help stabilize the country.
"We want more troops in from other nations, because the more troops you have,
the quicker you can bring security throughout the country, and you can get
the reconstruction going on a safe and secure basis," said Mr. Powell.
Mr. Powell went to Iraq after attending a meeting in Geneva of the five permanent
U.N. Security Council members. He said the full council will discuss the matter