WASHINGTON - Vice President Cheney yesterday defended the administration's strategy in Iraq and labeled as "hogwash" suggestions that blunders there undermined his and President Bush's credibility.
"If the history books were written by people who are so eager to write off this effort, to declare it a failure, the situation would have been over a long time ago," Cheney said in an interview on CNN's Situation Room. "Bottom line is that we've had enormous successes."
Cheney gave no ground to critics of the strategy the Bush administration has pursued in Iraq. The biggest mistake, he said, was underestimating how much 30 years of Saddam Hussein's rule had damaged the country and hampered its citizens' ability to take charge.
Cheney, who was one of the chief proponents of going to war as invasion planning began almost five years ago, dismissed any concern that an Iraq dominated by Shiite Muslims allied with Iran eventually would turn against the United States.
"That's not going to happen," he said. "The reality on the ground is, we've made major progress, we've still got a lot of work to do."
The United States "accomplished our objectives" of overthrowing Hussein and establishing an elected government, Cheney said. He said he continued to have confidence in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Cheney would not speculate on the 2008 presidential race.
Asked whether he thought Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D., N.Y.) would make a good president, he said: "No, I don't." Asked to explain, he replied: "Because she's a Democrat. I don't agree with her."
Cheney also declined to describe his experience of sitting next to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, during Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday night.