From the 2000 Vice-Presidential Debate, between Senator Joe Lieberman and former Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney. The moderator was CNN’s Bernard Shaw:
MODERATOR: This question is for you, Mr. Secretary. If Iraq’s president Saddam Hussein were found to be developing weapons of mass destruction, Governor Bush has said he would, quote, “Take him out.” Would you agree with such a deadly policy?
CHENEY: We might have no other choice. We’ll have to see if that happens. The thing about Iraq, of course, was at the end of the war we had pretty well decimated their military. We had put them back in the box, so to speak. We had a strong international coalition raid against them, effective economic sanctions, and an inspection regime was in place under the U.N. and it was able to do a good job of stripping out the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, the work he had been doing that had not been destroyed during the war in biological and chemical agents, as well as a nuclear program. Unfortunately now we find ourselves in a situation where that started to fray on us, where the coalition now no longer is tied tightly together. Recently the United Arab Emirates have reopened diplomatic relations with Baghdad. The Russians and French are flying commercial airliners back into Baghdad and thumbing their nose at the international sanctions regime. We’re in a situation today where our posture with Iraq is weaker than it was at the end of the war. It’s unfortunate. I also think it’s unfortunate we find ourselves in a position where we don’t know for sure what might be transpiring inside Iraq. I certainly hope he’s not regenerating that kind of capability, but if he were, if in fact Saddam Hussein were taking steps to try to rebuild nuclear capability or weapons of mass destruction, you would have to give very serious consideration to military action to — to stop that activity. I don’t think you can afford to have a man like Saddam Hussein with nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
LIEBERMAN: It would, of course, be a very serious situation if we had evidence, credible evidence, that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction. I must say, I don’t think a political campaign is the occasion to declare exactly what we would do in that case. I think that’s a matter of such critical national security importance that it ought to be left to the Commander in Chief, leaders of the military, Secretary of State to make that kind of decision without the heat of a political campaign. The fact is that we will not enjoy real stability in the Middle East until Saddam Hussein is gone. The Gulf War was a great victory. And incidentally, Al Gore and I were two of the ten Democrats in the Senate who crossed party lines to support President Bush and Secretary Cheney in that war. We’re proud we did that. The war did not end with a total victory. Saddam Hussein remained there. As a result, we have had almost ten years now of instability. We have continued to operate almost all of this time military action to enforce a no-fly zone. We have been struggling with Saddam about the inspectors. We’re doing everything we can to get the inspectors back in there. But in the end there’s not going to be peace until he goes. And that’s why I was proud to co-sponsor the Iraq Liberation Act with Senator Trent Lott where I have kept in touch with the Iraqi opposition, broad base. We met with them earlier this year. We are supporting them in their efforts and will continue to support them until the Iraqi people rise up and do what the people of Serbia have done in the last few days, get rid of a despot. We’ll welcome you back into the family of nations where you belong.