In July of 1990, I was privileged to be here attending what was the first post-Cold War Summit of NATO, hosted by then-Prime Minister Thatcher. In opening that historic summit conference—at a time when many people were questioning whether there was any longer a need for NATO now that the Berlin Wall had disappeared—the British Prime Minister began by remarking that Europe was standing at the dawn of a new era, as promising in its own way as 1919 and 1945, she said with irony dripping from her voice. Clearly, that reference to earlier post-war eras was intended not only to underscore the promise of the moment but also the uncertainty of the future and the danger of believing that there were no longer threats in the world simply because the threat that we had worried about for so long had disappeared.
I remember the first press conference of President George H.W. Bush—or Bush 41, as we call him—after the Berlin Wall came down. He was asked what need was there for NATO now that the threat had gone away. I remember how many people discounted his wise answer that a threat did remain, and the threat was "uncertainty."
The intervening years have demonstrated both the promise of that new era and the continuing relevance of NATO. Barely a month after that summit here in London, Iraq attacked Kuwait and we found ourselves facing the first major conflict of that new era. During the 1990s, NATO not only welcomed three new members but found itself the instrument of ending ethnic strife and genocide in the Balkans. Now, at the beginning of the 21st Century, NATO has been the instrument for solidifying peace in Europe and building bridges across the continent – at the same time that it is putting in place an historic response to the extraordinary new threat posed by international terrorism.
The success of the recent Prague Summit is gratifying to me personally. I recall my own visit to Prague in April of 1991 to attend a remarkable event: Manfred Woerner, who was then the Secretary General of NATO and Vaclav Havel, the President of Czechoslovakia had invited representatives of all the NATO and Warsaw Pact countries to an unprecedented conference on European security – and indeed they all came. Such a (inaudible) conference had never happened before. Yes, there was still a Warsaw Pact at that time. It seems like ages ago. It was on that occasion that we had private discussions with President Havel about the possibility, which then still seemed remote, that Warsaw Pact countries might eventually join NATO – indeed they have.
A year later, I recall being in Moscow - this was 1992 - for discussions with my counterpart in the Russian Ministry of Defense, Deputy Minister, the first civilian deputy minister, Andrei Kokoshin. On that occasion, we pointed out that not only was NATO not a threat to Russia, but indeed it was entirely reasonable to expect that someday NATO and Russia could be security partners.
It is a real pleasure, therefore, to be able to say a decade later that NATO has not only survived, but it has extended the benefits of Alliance membership to the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe, and it has done so while also developing a new and positive relationship with an increasingly democratic Russia.
Indeed, what NATO has succeeded in demonstrating is that an alliance based on common values of freedom and democracy has had more staying power than any historic alliance built purely on a narrow coincidence of interests. It has also demonstrated that NATO is an alliance with the flexibility, at different times, under vastly different circumstances, to be relevant in confronting changing threats and seizing new opportunities.
Tomorrow, I travel to Ankara, another capital of an important democratic ally and a steadfast partner in securing peace.
But today, I am happy to be here in Great Britain, the birthplace of so many of the modern institutions of liberty and democracy that we Americans sometimes mistakenly claim as our own. Indeed, the political philosopher who most directly influenced the framers of our Constitution was a Frenchman, Baron Charles de Montesquieu, who discerned in the developing political institutions of Eighteenth Century England the outlines of modern liberal democracy. And so, when America was breaking away—on which point, I must note, some British leaders have gone on record agreeing that "a little rebellion now and then is a good thing"— when we were setting out on our own, we knew we owed a great deal to the example of this government as we set up ours. As beneficiaries of that example, we need to thank the members of Parliament and the people of Great Britain who have continued to foster this democratic tradition. And so, when we come to Britain, Americans feel at home.
In 1982, when President Reagan spoke at Westminster, he paid tribute to the role of Parliament in strengthening the rule of law and advancing what he called the "great civilized ideas." He also spoke about the character of our British allies. He told the story of an elderly British woman whose home was bombed and nearly obliterated during the Blitz. As rescuers searched through the wreckage, they found a bottle of brandy that the woman had placed behind a staircase. When they finally got to her, the poor lady was barely conscious, so a rescuer pulled the cork from the brandy and gave her a taste. As she quickly came around she said, "There now, put that back. That's for emergencies."
My boss, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, has observed that "everything [is] easier" when British forces are with you. Americans—from the soldiers in the field to the leaders in Washington—could not agree more. From the first days of the war on terror, Prime Minister Blair, members of Parliament, the British people and British forces in the field have stood with America and other members of the coalition in the war on terrorism. And for that we are indeed grateful.
The Importance of the Coalition
It is difficult to exaggerate how much the fury of September 11th changed America’s outlook on the world. And although the attacks took place in the United States, no one should lose sight of the fact that people from some 80 nations—including the United Kingdom —were killed when the World Trade Towers were brought down. And the innocent victims included not only Christians and Jews, but innocent Muslims as well.
That global attack required a global response. And there has been one. The commitment of our allies and partners has shown that we are indeed not alone in this defense of freedom and justice and peace.
As Prime Minister Blair said recently, "This is a new type of war, fought in a different way by different means. But, as with all wars, it will test not just our ability to fight, but our character, our resilience and, the Prime Minister said, our belief in our own way of life." Indeed, this new war has tested us on all fronts, and we have responded on all fronts. Immediately following the attack, President Bush defined the scope of our response in his address to a joint session of Congress when he said: "We will direct every resource at our command -- every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war – (inaudible) the Pentagon notice that we came last I might add – every necessary weapon of war," the President said, "to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network. "
We have been joined on all these fronts by our allies and partners, especially our NATO allies. For the first time in its history, NATO invoked Article V—in a way that some never thought we would, because of an attack on the United States. NATO AWACS, developed to counter a Soviet attack on Western Europe, instead were deployed to the United States to monitor our airspace and help prevent further terrorist attacks.
Many countries have contributed to the significant progress made in the last year. Some have joined us publicly; others have chosen quiet and discrete forms of cooperation. More than 150 countries have blocked terrorist assets of more than $100 million dollars.
Seventeen nations contributed some 6,000 troops to Operation Enduring Freedom and to the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, led first by the United Kingdom. Equally important, if not more so, the worldwide efforts of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies in cooperation with more than 90 countries have resulted in the arrest of some 2,400 individuals.
The coalition will remain vitally important as we face other dimensions in the war on terrorism. As President Bush said recently at the Prague Summit of NATO, "Never has our need for collective defense been more urgent… Freedom," he said, "still has enemies…. Every free nation is a potential target [of terrorists and terrorist states], including the nations of Europe," a fact that has led the world to unite in facing, what President Bush called, "the unique and the urgent threat posed by Iraq."
Peaceful Resolution of the Iraq Problem
So, let me here say a few words here about Iraq. The UN Security Council’s unanimous passage on November 8th of Resolution 1441, ordering the elimination of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, opened a decisive final chapter in the eleven-year struggle to achieve that goal. That strong expression of the international community, backed up by the determination of President Bush with the strong bipartisan support from both houses of the U.S. Congress and many expressions of international coalition support—particularly from the United Kingdom—demonstrate a unity of purpose that is essential if we are to convince the current Iraqi regime that this time the world is serious. It tells Baghdad in no uncertain terms that the time has come—once and for all—for Iraq to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.
The goal is not merely the resumption of inspections in Iraq. The goal is disarmament—the elimination of Iraq’s programs to build chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Disarming Saddam Hussein and fighting the war on terror are not merely related; the first is a crucial part of the second.
The peaceful implementation of Resolution 1441 can only happen if there is a fundamental change in the attitude of the Iraqi regime. It is not and cannot be the responsibility of the inspectors to scour every square inch of Iraq. It cannot be their responsibility to search out and find every illegal weapon or system. That would be a task beyond their means. Nor is it their responsibility to disarm Iraq. That is the responsibility of the Iraqi regime itself. What inspectors can do is give us some confidence if the regime has, in fact, assumed that responsibility, if it has, in fact, declared every weapon of mass destruction and every development program that exists and has, in fact, destroyed those and dismantled those programs.
The bottom line is that Saddam Hussein and his regime must fundamentally change their attitude and finally implement a disarmament that they agreed to more than a decade ago. If the inspectors are forced to go back to the old cat-and-mouse game the world saw so often before, then the effort to resolve this problem peacefully will have failed.
However, let me make it clear that President Bush is making every effort to bring about the disarmament of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction without the use of force. The goal is to achieve the disarmament of Iraqi chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and to do so—to eliminate this very serious danger to the world—if possible, by peaceful means. But, by one means or another, we will eliminate that threat. As President Bush made clear in Prague, Iraq will disarm—"voluntarily, or by force, that goal will be achieved," in the President’s words.
But Saddam Hussein will not easily give up the weapons, which he worked so hard to obtain and has paid such a high price to keep. It has been estimated that the Iraqi government has sacrificed more than $100 billion in oil revenues to avoid complying with the UN resolutions that mandated the end of its Weapons of Mass Destruction programs
Saddam Hussein will give up those weapons only if he believes that doing so is the only way in which he and his regime can survive.
The debate is not between those who desire peace and those who love war. I know of no one, no one, except the terrorists, who loves war. The issue is how best to increase the odds of a peaceful outcome.
Let’s acknowledge that there is a seeming paradox here. The simple truth is that our only hope, and let me emphasize—our only hope—of achieving that peaceful outcome is if we can confront the Iraqi regime with a credible threat of force behind our diplomacy. To be effective, the two must be part of a single policy. They are not two separate policies.
That paradox was well understood by President John Kennedy in 1962. When Kennedy began negotiating with the Soviet Union for the removal of their missiles from Cuba, he assembled a powerful force to demonstrate to Khrushchev that, if the missiles were not removed peacefully, the United States would force their removal. That action was risky, but without it, a peaceful resolution of the Cuban missile crisis would not have been possible.
As Prime Minister Blair has reminded us recently, given the ongoing threats we face, we must remain vigilant. We must be prepared to act. We cannot wait to act until the threat is imminent. The notion that we can wait to prepare assumes that we will know when the threat is imminent. That wasn’t true even when the United States was presented with the very obvious threat of Soviet missiles in Cuba. As President Kennedy said at that time, "We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation’s security to constitute maximum peril." That was John Kennedy 40 years ago.
If it was true 40 years ago facing a threat that was comparatively easy to discern, how much more true is it today against threats developed by terrorists who use the freedoms of democratic societies to plot and plan in secret.
Just stop and think for a moment. When were the attacks of September 11th imminent? Certainly they were imminent on September 10th, although we didn’t know it. In fact, the September 11th terrorists had established themselves in the United States long before that date – months or even a couple of years before. Anyone who believes that we can wait until we have certain knowledge that attacks are imminent, has failed to connect the dots that led to September 11th.
As we seek a peaceful outcome to the Iraqi problem, we recognize that we would never have succeeded in the United Nations without the support of our coalition partners. And we would have no chance of getting Saddam Hussein to take the UN’s seventeenth and latest resolution seriously were it not backed up by the resolve of the brave men and women in the armed forces of our two nations and those of many others.
Winston Churchill expressed a similar truth about the will and means to use force when he observed in 1949 that "we arm to parley." As that great statesman and leader knew so well, in some cases, only a credible threat of force opens the way to diplomacy.
President Bush has made it clear that when the national security of the United States is at stake, he will not play games. He will not tolerate the game that Secretary of State Powell has characterized as "rope-a-dope in the desert"; the game that the Iraqi regime was so adept at playing over the last decade. The President of the United States has made his determination clear; his intentions are unmistakable. If Saddam Hussein and his regime underestimate the President of the United States and his partners here in the United Kingdom and around the world, they will have made a big mistake.
Turkey as a Member of Europe
Let me talk about a broader aspect of the war on terrorism and something that connects to the very important current issues facing Turkey in Europe.
Soon after September 11th, my boss, Secretary Don Rumsfeld reminded people of a big mistake that we should not make. It’s a big mistake, he said, to focus too much on one individual or one aspect of the war on terror. That is why he and President Bush have reminded us so often that this battle on terror will not be over quickly.
And, indeed, the war on terrorism requires more than just defeating and capturing terrorists, more than breaking up terrorist networks and eliminating state support for terrorism, even though those tasks are obviously essential. In the long run, real success also requires building what President Bush referred to in his State of the Union Address last January as a "just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror." Doing so means supporting people who share our values of tolerance and freedom, and who are struggling to achieve them, particularly in the Muslim world. "America," the President said, must "take the side of brave men and women who advocate [the values that bring lasting peace] around the world, including, the President said, the Islamic world, because we have a greater objective than eliminating threats and containing resentment."
Tomorrow, I’ll be traveling from here to Turkey. The Turks are striving to develop a free and democratic and tolerant society that can be a useful model for others in the Muslim world.
It is the great good fortune of NATO and the West, indeed of the world, that Turkey, one of our strongest, most reliable and most self-reliant allies, occupies one of the most important strategic crossroads in the world. Against the background of an economic crisis and profound changes in domestic politics, Turkey, which has been committed to integration with the West since the creation of the Turkish republic by Kemal Ataturk nearly 80 years ago, also faces a defining moment in its relationship with Europe and the West. It would be to the benefit, not only of Turkey and Europe, but the to entire world, including my country, if the December 12th EU Summit in Copenhagen can succeed in advancing two important goals: a settlement in Cyprus and an agreement on a date to begin negotiations on Turkish membership in the EU. The United States strongly supports the efforts of the UN Secretary General to achieve a Cyprus settlement.
The decision on EU membership is, of course, Europe’s to make. But history suggests that a European Union that welcomes Turkey will be even stronger, safer, and more richly diverse than it is today. The alternative, exclusionary choice, is surely unthinkable.
Although the two issues in principle are separate, both Turkish and European leaders recognize that Turkey's EU application and the long-standing Cyprus problem are linked at the practical level. The plan put forward last month by the UN Secretary General provides the basis for a just and lasting solution.
If the two sides are willing to engage in serious constructive negotiations to resolve their differences in accordance with the Secretary General's plan – and provide tangible evidence of this determination by Copenhagen – the European Union could look forward to the accession of a Cyprus involving both peoples of that troubled island. Cyprus could be transformed from a perennial problem that divides Turkey and Greece – and become instead a showcase for Turkish-Greek cooperation, eliminating one of the most troublesome issues on the Turkish-European agenda.
Turkey was a staunch NATO ally through 40 years of Cold War and helped stabilize Central and Eastern Europe. Its strong commitment to peace continues today, with Turkish troops serving in peacekeeping forces in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Ten years ago, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Turkey played a crucial role in the coalition that liberated Kuwait and later provided critical support for Operation Provide Comfort that enabled hundreds of thousands of Kurdish refugees to return to their homes.
When international terrorism struck the United States last year, Turkey offered its unconditional support, including bases, over-flight rights and the deployment of ground forces in Afghanistan. Later, Turkey came forward to take over the leadership of ISAF in Kabul, building on the excellent foundation established by our British allies.
And Turkey offers a valuable model for Muslim majority countries striving to realize the goals of freedom, secularism and democracy. As the great Anglo-American scholar of Turkish history, Bernard Lewis, has observed, "Turkey’s experience shows that democracy is difficult, but also that it is possible."
Those who would criticize Turkey for its problems confuse what is challenging with what is fundamental. They focus too much on the problems Turkey is struggling to solve today and ignore where it is heading. What is fundamental is Turkey's democratic character—a country that believes in freedom and that changes its leaders at the ballot box.
Demonstrating its desire to be part of a greater Europe, Turkey has confirmed its commitment to pursue a broad range of reforms. Turkey has undertaken sweeping constitutional reforms, as suggested by the European Commission. It has strengthened the protections for a free press and provided for free and fair elections. It has conferred Kurdish linguistic and educational rights. Very importantly, Turkey’s new government has just decided to end the state of emergency in Southeast Turkey. Turks know that there is more to do, but I am confident that they will do it and the European Union can do a lot to encourage them.
Turks have also shown the courage to correct the structural weaknesses in their economy and as a result, there have been encouraging signs that the economy has begun to turn the [inaudible]. The United States has a strategic interest in the economic success of Turkey, and we are committed to continuing to help Turkey, in the IMF and elsewhere, in taking steps to recover from the present economic crisis.
Turkey’s recent election has been described by some as a "political earthquake," and there is no question that it has transformed Turkey’s political landscape. Most informed observers agree that in this election Turks were casting their votes for the concept of responsible and accountable representation. They were not, as some might fear, seeking to politicize religion. The AK Party, which is best known for its Muslim identity, but which rejects the Islamic label, has also strongly declared its belief in a Turkish destiny in Europe, and the government it has formed has demonstrated this since coming into office. It has repeatedly expressed its support for the separation of religion and the state, which is the basis of Turkish democracy. If it carries through with its stated positions, there is no more reason to fear this party than religious-based parties in Europe and elsewhere in the world that combine religious faith with belief in tolerance and religious freedom and the separation of church and state.
Modern Turkey demonstrates that a democratic system is indeed compatible with Islam, a Muslim understanding Ataturk once expressed, when he said: [phonetic: Islam ahLAK deMEKtir]. "Islam means morals and values." And in upholding Islam’s morals and values, there can be a separation of religion from state—a separation that is completely compatible with personal piety. As we understand in the UK and the US, and as Ataturk captured it when he said: [phonetic: Din inSAN ilay Allah arasinDAbir ishtir], "Religion is a matter between man and God."
People who share the values of freedom and democracy that grew out of European civilization are seeing increasingly that these are not just Western values or European values. They are Muslim and Asian values as well.
Europe now has a strategic opportunity—by helping Turkey realize its aspirations to join the EU, Europe would contribute to the progress of a country that has the potential to be a model for the Muslim world. Turkey’s success could demonstrate to the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims that there is a far better path than the path of destruction and despair offered by the terrorists and demonstrate that the benefits of free and prosperous and open societies are available equally to Muslims as to everyone.
Turkey’s democratic model can also serve as an inspiration to Iraq. During my meetings tomorrow with Turkish officials, I look forward to hearing what they have to say concerning the future of Iraq. As its neighbor to the north, Turkey has large and legitimate interests in Iraq, and it has suffered economically from Iraq’s international isolation since the time of the Gulf War. Turkey is naturally interested in the fate of Iraq’s Turcomans, who, like the rest of the Iraqi people, have suffered grievously under tyrannical rule. Turkey reasonably wishes to be assured that events in Iraq won’t have a negative impact on its own security, in particular that the territorial integrity of Iraq will be preserved and that no independent Kurdish state will be created in the north. That is also the United States policy.
It is vital to democratic Turkey, and to us, that the people of Iraq also govern themselves democratically, with full respect for the rights of all its citizens, and that the territorial integrity of the country be maintained. A democratic Iraq can stimulate economic growth with neighbors like Turkey and stabilize the region.
Beyond the reach of Baghdad for a decade, Iraqis of the north—predominately Kurds, but Arabs and Turcomans as well—have demonstrated an impressive ability to manage longstanding differences and even develop relatively free and prospering societies. They have done this even though they labor under the same economic sanctions that have applied to the rest of that country. Once freed from Saddam’s tyranny, it is reasonable to expect that the rest of Iraq’s educated, industrious population of 23 million could rapidly build a modern society that would be a source of prosperity, rather than insecurity, for its neighbors.
We may someday look back on this moment in history as the time when the West defined itself for the 21st Century—not in terms of geography or race or religion or culture or language, but in terms of values—the values of freedom and democracy. It was a great British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, who once said, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all of the other systems of government which have been tried." In our time, more and more people who have tried those other systems of government are turning, in their own different ways, to freedom and democracy.
As Copenhagen approaches, Turkey hopes eagerly to receive a firm date to begin accession talks, even while recognizing that it will take some time for Turkey actually to enter the EU. This should involve a commitment, not only from Turkey to stay the course of reform, but also a commitment from Europe’s leaders to stand by Turkey. In other words, a mutual commitment to finally complete the process of Turkey's integration into the West.
I might note the strong leadership that the government of this country has given to that cause and, in fact, the Foreign Secretary, I believe, is in Turkey now or on his way to Turkey and I hope, during my visit there, to have some time to exchange views with him.
As Europe’s leaders stand by Turkey, they will be making a great contribution to the war on terror and to building what President Bush called "a better world beyond."
In May, 1945, not far from here, from a balcony in Whitehall, Churchill spoke to the people who had accepted his call to victory—"victory at all costs, victory in spite of terror, victory however long and hard the road may be."
He told his countrymen who’d walked that long road with him, "This is your victory…. Neither the long years nor the dangers, nor the fierce attacks of the enemy, have in any way weakened the independent resolve of the British nation."
We may make the same declaration today. Despite the terror and no matter how long and hard the road may be, Britain and America together, along with free peoples throughout the world, will once again heed the call to victory.
The friendship our nations have long enjoyed remains a powerful force against terror and for freedom.
For people who cherish freedom and seek peace, these are difficult times. But, such times can deepen our understanding of the truth. And this truth we know: the single greatest threat to peace and freedom in our time is terrorism. So this truth we affirm: the future does not belong to the terrorists. The future belongs to those who work to dream the oldest and noblest dream of all, the dream of peace and freedom.
Q: Paul, I think the applause you just heard is a good indication of the manner in which your speech has been received. I was struck, if I may make a comment in using the privilege of the chair for a moment, to put to you a question. I was struck by the fact that as Deputy Secretary of Defense you spent about, in terms of time, close to one third, one half of your time talking about relations between Turkey and Europe which is indeed an extraordinarily important topic, and it was also interesting for me as a European, to hear that there was something out there which only Europe could do and not the United States of America. And that the United States of America was strongly supportive of multi-lateralism, that is, at least, the multi-lateralism which we are practicing in Europe.
But let me put a question to you. You mentioned the Cuban Missile crisis and I think it is a very exquisite comparison to make vis a vis the crisis which we are undergoing presently. At one stage during that crisis and my recollection here is that Bob Kennedy, the President’s brother at the time, had a discussion with the Soviet ambassador in Washington, indicating that a de facto quid pro quo between the Soviet Union and the United States existed, while the Soviets would withdraw their weapons of mass destruction from Cuba, but that the United States would not invade Cuba. Some have suggested that a similar message be conveyed to Saddam Hussein. Is that something you would consider or not?
WOLFOWITZ: First, if I could just comment briefly on the amount of time I spent on Turkey. It really is impossible for saying how decisive this period is and how remarkable this confluence of events is, including this Turkish election. Who would have predicted a year or two ago that we might be on the edge of a Cypress settlement because a ‘quote’ Muslim party had been elected in Turkey. But certainly everything that this election has done is moved in the direction of making it easier for that more likely that that outcome might be achieved and I think also the great efforts this new government has made to make clear its support for Turkey’s integration in Europe.
It’s a remarkable series of developments, it’s a decisive couple of weeks and it is of huge strategic importance and strategic in many senses of the word. But I would say most important in that larger strategic sense, which goes to the heart of the matter, that one of the reasons this is going to be a long struggle is because it’s not simply a matter of containing enemies, it’s a matter of demonstrating to those who might be recruited to their cause that there’s a better way, a better alternative and so I think reform in the Muslim world is a fundamental strategic objective. And I hope that as people wrestle with all of the very, sometimes understandably parochial issues that come on the table to realize that the stakes here are huge for all of us, for a European role or an American role, but we are going to cheer as hard from the sidelines as we possibly can.
The question that you asked me is clearly one that ultimately policy is going to be decided by the President of the United States. But I think what he has made clear is that his determination to use force if necessary comes because of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. And implicit in that, I believe clearly, if that threat can be removed peacefully then the need to use force goes away. But the abhorrence of the regime does not go away; and I think people in this country are more familiar than even the Americans are with the whole history of the Balkans. The fact that the alliance concluded that it was appropriate to use force to end ethnic cleansing and genocide in Kosovo, but when that ended, the use of force ended, our concerns about Milosovic did not end. And, indeed, he is now sitting in The Hague facing a war crimes trial. I’m not saying that analogies are only suggestive rather than conclusive but I think it has been useful.
Q: The intent of getting rid of the key Iraqi weapons systems is obviously very strong and you’ve repeated it forcefully. But could you say a little more about why you think doing so is also instrumental in helping to suppress further acts of Al Qaeda international terrorism, such as bombing Mombassa or for that matter somewhere like Lebanon?
A second question, if I may, would you comment on certain speculation in the media that some of the key Iraqi weapons capabilities may have already been relocated outside of Iraq?
WOLFOWITZ: I think our concern, our principle concern of Iraq and the concern that leads us to contemplate actions as serious as the ones we are contemplating, was the concern that President Bush expressed very clearly in the State of the Union message and that is the danger that weapons of mass destruction could some day be put in the hands of terrorists.
I think it goes back to some, an understanding, of just how profoundly the events of September 11th changed America’s understanding of the risk and the stakes. I think indeed if we had understood that it was possible for 3,000 Americans to die in a single day, and have the graphic experience of what that entailed, we would probably would have taken much more forceful against Afghanistan long before. But we can’t wait until 30,000 Americans or 300,000 or even possible 3000,000 die as a result of an attack by weapons of mass destruction to deal with the threat posed by countries that have the weapons and develop them and support and work with terrorists. That is the heart of the issue.
We still don’t know who was behind the attacks in Mombassa, so it’s pretty hard to say how any particular action is going to affect that. But the notion that we can’t do more than one thing at a time, that we can’t pursue this war on many fronts is not only wrong, but it seems to me quite inconsistent to suggest that we are working very hard in different ways with the government of Indonesia, which is very cooperative with the government of Pakistan, the government of Pakistan, which is very cooperative but has some real limitations on what it can do in certain parts of the country, with the governor of Yemen which has been largely cooperative, to eliminate sanctuaries for terrorists.
Clearly, allowing sanctuary for terrorists in Iraq is not going to help us in fighting against Al Qaeda. But let me come back to the main point, in saying over and over again since the State of the Union message last January, is this danger that instead of losing 3,000 people in a single day, it could be 10 or 100 or even 1000 times as much, and that is not a threat we want to continue living with indefinitely.
Q: Mr. Deputy Secretary, on this side of the Atlantic it would be fair to say that you have the reputation of a hawk. I wonder whether in defense of that virtue you would confirm that your advice after the September 11th was to bomb Baghdad, and I wonder if you could confirm what role the British Prime Minister may have had in dissuading your administration in taking that course. And secondly, whether you have any evidence at all to link Saddam Hussein or any aspect of Iraq with events of September 11th?
WOLFOWITZ: You know we have, I think, one of the most impressive national security teams perhaps any president has ever assembled. Indeed, I don’t know why it didn’t strike me until a few days ago that the Vice President, the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense have all been seriously considered as Presidential candidates at one time or another. I’m not sure if that’s ever happened before. I think you would have to go back to Dean Acheson and George Marshall to find a Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense as formidable as the two we have now.
This is a President who loves to debate an argument. If people aren’t arguing he will stimulate them to argue because he learns from that. He gets a clear idea of what the alternatives are and he also is very comfortable making decisions after he’s heard an argument. And another thing about this team which, in a way, is in some respects all the more impressive since they are such strong willed people in it but totally unsurprising when you think about how much experience they all have, is that when the President makes a decision that is the policy of the United States. We don’t think along with two or three independent separate competing policies, it’s not a good way to do business.
So, we’ve had lots of debates and discussions. I would say finally that most of them are essentially about tactics. The basic strategy, the strategic role is a clear one and as I said it is not only to deal with Al Qaeda and terrorist networks and state support for terrorism, but it is this much larger goal of dealing with fundamental causes. And I can’t resist saying that I don’t think that most fundamental cause is poverty, as much as I would support all kinds of efforts to reduce poverty. Bin Laden obviously wasn’t driven to this by poverty. By I do think the sense of failure in the Muslim world is a serious part of that problem. And I believe that issues we are talking about involving Turkey speak to that larger issue. I know I’m saying it again, but it really does bear repeating, that encouraging Turkey in its aspiration to be part of the West is a major part of achieving that larger strategic goal which really has to be our goal.
Q: Do you think that the publication today by the British government, a dossier detailing Iraqi torture is part of a coordinated effort to establish the reasons of war against Iraq even were Saddam to fulfill his obligations?
WOLFOWITZ: I think that if you want to ask that question, it might go to a British spokesman. But there’s been broad agreement that there are three problems, perhaps more, but three principle problems, which that regime presents us with.
One is its weapons of mass destruction, a second its support for terrorism, and the third its terrorizing of its own people. I’m struck at how often people will say, well we all know how bad Saddam Hussein is, and the truth is I don’t think we all do know how bad Saddam Hussein is.
We all knew how bad Milosovic is. Well Milosovic is a Sunday school teacher compared to Saddam Hussein. Scott Ritter, who’s earned a reputation recently as a major defender of the Iraqi regime, or at least a critic of American policy, said not long ago that he didn’t like to talk about these things because it would encourage those people who want to wage war, and he is waging peace now. But he did see a prison in Iraq which was truly horrible and because he’s waging peace he said he didn’t want to explain quite how horrible it was.
I can tell you what he did say was that the stench of human excrement and vomit was everywhere, that the prisoners were howling and crying and clearly deprived of food and water and the oldest prisoner was twelve and the youngest was a toddler. This was a prison for children who had been political enemies of the Iraqi regime. I think only North Korea is a place where you could find such horrors in the world today and there are obviously a lot of pretty bad governments. So, I think that that is a relevant fact. It becomes particularly relevant should it become necessary to use force to resolve the first problem, the problem of weapons of mass destruction, because I think it does mean that this is not a regime that enjoys more popular support even if they produced a 100% vote in the last election. And I think when the Iraqi people no longer have to fear Saddam he and his clique will certainly have to fear them.
So it is relevant, but let me repeat what I said earlier. The reason why the President of the United States concluded that it is worth confronting the very considerable risks that are involved, first of all to the men and women who serve under his command, but secondly the risk to the neighborhood, to the world of resolving this problem as necessary to the use of force, is the problem of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
The focus of the UN Security Council Resolution 1441 is to achieve the disarmament of those weapons. That doesn’t remove all of the problems posed by the Iraqi regime, but it is our principle concern and it is the risk that makes in the President’s judgment and the judgment of his advisors, it is that risk which makes it worth considering the risk of action, which we believe at the end of the day, smaller than the risk of inaction.
Q: You mentioned earlier that it would be impossible for inspectors to scour everywhere in Iraq. There is already considerable evidence, apparently from intelligence services, that Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction in places where the inspectors will not go, how long will America wait before it takes action?
WOLFOWITZ: We’re talking about if it comes to the use of force we’re talking about the gravest decision a country can make. And it is clearly a decision in our system that only the President can make and he has made it very clear that his goal is to try if possible to achieve a peaceful resolution on this issue. I think that one of the important tests is coming on December 8th when Iraq is required to make a full, what is it, full, final and complete declaration of what it has, and we won’t know definitely whether they are telling the truth at that point, but we presumably would have a reasonably good idea. The best possible outcome would be for them to give us the names and addresses of all those houses where they are hiding things. We know they are hiding things and if they want to convince us that they really have turned a new leaf, then they are going to have to be transparent, open and forthcoming, because that is the real test.
Q: You’ve been fulsome in your praise for Tony Blair Mr. Wolfowitz, but on Iraq, Tony Blair has appeared to make a connection between Iraq and Israel and the Palestine problem by saying it’s easier to solve or to tackle Iraq if at same time one kick starts the Middle Eastern peace process. He has called for a new peace conference on the Israel-Palestine issue, so far from your administration the answer comes back none, when, if at all, might there be an answer to Mr. Blair’s calls and others calls from Europe for a peace conference?
WOLFOWITZ: Francois made a comment that here I am from the Defense Department, talking about diplomacy for the Europeans, so I lost my safeguard. But quite seriously, I mean I can say some things about our broad goals, but the tactical issues really are very much State Department issues, and I don’t want to step in to that lane.
But clearly, the United States, and through many administrations including this one, is strongly supportive in achieving a peaceful settlement between Arabs and Israelis in the current instance, particularly between Israelis and Palestinians. It is very damaging to have these continuing scenes of conflict and bloodshed and we know it’s horrible and hurtful. It’s tragic to think how close they came at the last Camp David meeting during the Clinton administration and what looked like a viable settlement that would have led to the outcome that seems inevitable -- of a Palestinian state and an Israeli state living peacefully side by side. And it is tragic that in the collapse of those talks, followed some of the worst violence and terror that we’ve seen in that area. And I do think that that may be the principle obstacle to the negotiations coming to an end. There’s no question that negotiated outcome is very much in our interests. I also think that there’s not much question of a negotiated outcome is going to be the eventual result, but certainly it would be nice if it happened sooner rather than later.
I think it was 25 years ago last month that Sadat made his historic trip to Jerusalem, it’s amazing to think back at how much that trip, that speech to the Israeli Knessett was a psychological breakthrough that changed the whole climate and one hopes desperately that some great statesman may come forward with a psychological breakthrough of that kind, but in the meantime we have to keep slogging away, step by step.
Q: Mr. Wolfowitz, you constantly infer a connection between Saddam Hussein and terrorism and Iraq and September 11th, and yet you provide no evidence, is that because there is no evidence?
WOLFOWITZ: Well, first of all I haven’t constantly inferred anything of the kind you say. But the fact is that there are connections if you go back for example and read George Tenet’s unclassified letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee, I believe it was a Senate Committee, about 2 months ago which got a lot of attention because of what it says in the beginning whether he might actually use weapons of mass destruction, there’s a great deal of detail in there that summarizes on an unclassified basis what our intelligence people have concluded to date, Iraqi connections to Al Qaeda, and of course, we know about many other Iraqi connections to terrorists of different kinds including widely advertised bounties that they provide to the families of suicide bombers. It’s a long record, some of its out in the open. But it’s the nature of state support for terrorism that a great deal of it is concealed. One sort of sees a tip of an iceberg, but that tip has been described, and I suggest you go back and read the Tenet letter if you want a summary.