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Protesters Against Possible War Marching Up the Wrong Road, Wolfowitz Says

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2003 – It was Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's turn this week to relay a simple message to Iraq's Saddam Hussein: Disarm or be disarmed; time is running out.

His words joined the recent chorus of other administration officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and even President Bush himself.

In separate interviews with the British Broadcasting Corp., Independent TV London and PBS National Public Radio, Wolfowitz delivered the message and then addressed anti-war protesters, saying they're free to demonstrate but they've been doing it with the wrong purpose in mind.

"If the people of Baghdad were free to demonstrate, you'd see millions in the streets saying 'Please come; why haven't you come sooner?'" Wolfowitz told NPR's Melissa Block.

"If the demonstrators want to prevent war, the best thing they could have done would been to demonstrate in front of the Iraqi embassy and sent a message to Saddam saying time is running out for a peaceful solution here," he said.

Wolfowitz later said the "real tragedy" is that protesters should be marching to change Iraqi policy, not U.S. policy.

"If (Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein) saw a few million people on the streets saying, 'Your time is up, you'd better change,' that would be the one hope of getting him disarmed or getting him to leave peacefully."

He told BBC that war with Iraq will become necessary if Hussein does not change his ways, meaning that Iraq must comply with the demands set forth in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441.

"Clearly the purpose of the U.N. resolution is to disarm him," Wolfowitz said. "If he disarms peacefully, the purpose of the resolution would be achieved." If Iraq has to be disarmed by military force, the only way to do it is to remove Hussein and his regime, he added.

Wolfowitz told Sir Trevor McDonald of ITV London that he respects the right of people to protest but most, he said, do not understand why war with Iraq may be likely.

"Those who think that if it comes to war, it's going to be a war for oil or a war for Israel don't understand the issue," he said. "The issue is about a real and present threat and a threat that only gets worse the longer we wait."

The goal of any war, if it comes to that, would be to remove a real threat to the United States, Europe and the Persian Gulf states, as well as the Iraqi people, Wolfowitz told NPR.

"President Bush and (British) Prime Minister Tony Blair and other world leaders understand that it is their job to secure the future of their people, and that's what they're doing," he concluded.

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