Wolfowitz Says Iraqis Now Have Chance to Change History
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WURZBURG, Germany, Jan. 31, 2004 For at least 20 years, the Middle East has been "heading down the wrong road," and now the Iraqi people have the chance to change the course of history, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said here.
Wolfowitz, visiting the headquarters of the 1st Infantry Division, which is deploying to Iraq in February, said the Middle East is at an important turning point. He said the U.S. job is to aid the Iraqi people as they make the transition from 35 years of "sadists and torturers" under Saddam Hussein's rule to a representative government.
The threat still exists, he added. "Saddam didn't kill a million people all by himself," Wolfowitz said. "Some of those people are still around."
Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, 1st Infantry Division commander, said the division has a big job ahead of it. "On one hand, we will be killing and capturing terrorists and foreign fighters," he said. "Simultaneously, we've got our work cut out with respect to stability and support operations to set the condition for Iraqi civil-military self-reliance."
Wolfowitz also defended the intelligence community during a short interview with reporters traveling with him. "You have to make decisions based on the intelligence you have, not on the intelligence you can discover later," he said. He was discussing former Iraqi Survey Team leader David Kay's statement that he doubts the coalition will find stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
Kay also said Saddam's Iraq was in violation of a number of United Nations Security Council resolutions, Wolfowitz reminded reporters.
"It's very important to have the best intelligence you possibly can have," Wolfowitz said. "I think our intelligence community has done some extraordinary work," he added, citing work that led to Libya's decision to abandon its weapons-of-mass-destruction program and the discovery that North Korea was violating of the 1994 Framework Agreement as specific examples.
Wolfowitz said it is important to understand "where you got it right and where you got it wrong. But we could not possibly accomplish what we do in the world without the magnificent work of our intelligence community."