DAVOS, Switzerland – Free nations, working together, must not shy from using force if diplomacy cannot deter terrorism and check the spread of the world's most dangerous weapons, Vice President Dick Cheney (search) told Europe on Saturday.
"Direct threats require decisive action," Cheney said in a speech to the World Economic Forum (search). He urged European allies to "act with all the urgency that this danger demands."
Ideologies of violence must be confronted at their source by promoting democracy in the Middle East and beyond, he told more than 1,500 political, corporate and opinion leaders at a conference on global issues.
Cheney said the world is becoming safer, but alliances and international partnerships must remain strong in fighting terrorism. If security cannot be reached through dialogue, he said, "We must be prepared to face our responsibilities and be willing to use force if necessary."
In his second foreign trip since taking office, Cheney acknowledged the work that European nations have done in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in enticing Libya (search) to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.
Then Cheney asked for more.
He urged the European Union (search) to admit Turkey, whose application to become the union's only majority Muslim member was rejected in 1987.
He said Europe and America must demand that Iran meet its international commitments not to develop nuclear weapons.
"We believe that the Iranians have been actively and aggressively pursuing an effort to develop nuclear weapons," Cheney said during a question-and-answer session after his speech.
He said America and Europe should stand as one in honoring "the legitimate demands" of Iranians, who "ask nothing more than to enjoy their God-given right to live their lives as free men and women."
Cheney asked the allies to make more European troops available for deployments and not to let the European Union and NATO duplicate efforts in providing international security.
"Europeans know that their great experiment in building peace, unity and prosperity cannot survive as a privileged enclave, surrounded on its outskirts by breeding grounds of hatred and fanaticism," Cheney said.
"The days of looking the other way while despotic regimes trample human rights, rob their nations' wealth, and then excuse their failings by feeding their people a steady diet of anti-Western hatred are over."
Cheney's appeal to nurture democratic reform throughout the Middle East comes as the U.S. death toll in Iraq has topped 500. Also, thousands of the country's Shiite Muslims, spurred by the sect's most powerful Iraqi cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani (search), are demonstrating to press their demand for direct elections, not the caucuses planned by the United States, to seat delegates to choose a transitional government.
"We urge all democratic nations and the United Nations to answer the Iraqi Governing Council's call for support for the people of Iraq in making the transition to democracy," Cheney said. "We urge all nations holding Iraqi debt to be generous in forgiving it."
Last year at the forum, as anti-American sentiment ran high during the run-up to the war, Secretary of State Colin Powell appealed to all nations to back U.S. efforts to force Iraq to disarm itself. After the war that ended Saddam's government, weapons cited as the main cause for the invasion have not been found.
With Saddam in U.S. custody, the tone at this year's forum was more conciliatory for Cheney, but not universally so.
Eva Biaudet, a Finnish lawmaker, said she was shocked by Cheney's "militarism" and his focus on increasing Europe's military capabilities. "His solution for reaching democracy was armaments, which is not really the European solution," she said. "He forgot the development part, and it worries me."
Swiss President Joseph Deiss, who met with Cheney after his speech, was more diplomatic.
"On the one hand it was a clear expression of American leadership and the will to combat terrorism in the world," Deiss said. "On the other hand, ... I felt that the Americans also are quite aware of the necessity that (it be) an action of the international community."
Even though the United States has turned to the United Nations for help in transferring sovereignty to the Iraqis, Cheney still had tough words for the organization. He demanded that the Security Council stand behind its resolutions; council members including France, Germany and Russia had sought continued diplomacy rather than invasion to disarm Iraq.
"There comes a time when deceit and defiance must be seen for what they are," Cheney said. "At that point, a gathering danger must be directly confronted. At that point, we must show that beyond our resolutions is actual resolve."
After his speech, Cheney met with Swiss President Joseph Deiss to talk about counter-terrorism, terrorist financing and the means to stop it, the security situation in Iraq and the U.N. role in Iraq, a senior Bush administration official said Saturday night in Rome, where Cheney flew after the forum.
Cheney also met with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, who was attending the forum. The two talked about regional developments and the war on terror, Iraq and the progress of India-Pakistan relations, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
During his three-night stay in Rome, Cheney will meet with Premier Silvio Berlusconi, a major backer of the Iraq invasion, and Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.