NEW ORLEANS – The advance of U.S. troops into Baghdad is proof that early criticism of the war's plans was misguided, Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday.
The war "one of the most extraordinary military campaigns ever conducted," Cheney said, speaking to the annual convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
"With every day, with every advance of our coalition forces, the wisdom of that plan becomes more apparent," Cheney said.
He dismissed critics as "retired military officers embedded in TV studios."
Cheney said the war has sent a clear message to all violent groups that the United States has the capacity and the will to wage war on terrorism and win decisively.
Cheney's comments came shortly after U.S. Central Command in Qatar declared that Baghdad had been added to the list of areas that the Saddam regime no longer controls. Marine and Army units, welcomed by clapping Iraqis, were seizing and destroying buildings in Baghdad, despite sniper fire from roving bands of holdout fighters.
But Cheney cautioned that Saddam Hussein's regime still controls a lot of territory in northern Iraq and fierce fighting may lay ahead.
Cheney said he expected the United Nations, as well as war opponents such as France, to have humanitarian involvement in the postwar efforts in Iraq.
However, the key role in the reconstruction of Iraq and the creation of a new Iraqi government "has to reside with the U.S. government," Cheney said.
"We don't believe that the United Nations is equipped to play that central role. It will play a very important role, but I think the central role will reside with the coalition," Cheney said.