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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Interview with The Washington Post

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
September 06, 2003

(Interview with Michael Dobbs, The Washington Post.)


     Wolfowitz:  If we are talking about shifting ground, it seems to me that those who were opposed to the policy to liberate the Iraqi people are the ones who keep shifting their argument.


     Q:  Uh huh, Why?


     Wolfowitz:  Well, think about it.  They said it would be too dangerous to do because it would lead to the use of WMD.  Interesting.  That was a prominent argument.  It would lead to massive street fighting in Iraqi cities.  It would lead to humanitarian catastrophe.  What else -- it would lead to massive environmental damage due to the destruction of Iraq’s oil fields.  It would lead to intervention by Turkey, Iran, I think.  It would lead to large scale ethnic conflict in northern Iraq.  Oh yeah, and it would cause the collapse of friendly Arab governments.  That’s a partial list.  But, all of those things were highly touted and none of them happened.  Now, all that they are left with is that there are some thousands of former Ba'athists and some hundreds of al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists who are killing Americans and Iraqis.  I am sorry.  I am going too fast probably.  Should I slow down again? 


     Q:  If you could speak up a bit that would help me.


     Wolfowitz:  Okay, we can back over it.  Anyway, they are killing Americans and Iraqis and U.N. officials and moderate Shi’a leaders in order to destabilize Iraq and prevent the emergence of an Iraq that is of, by, and for the Iraqi people.  I mean, it seems to me that they are the ones who keep forgetting all the wrong arguments and now all they are left with is that, yes, the enemy is trying to kill us and break our will.  And, the only way the enemy is going to win is if they get to the will of the American people.  That’s what they tell themselves.  They talk about Beirut and Somalia.  Saddam Hussein told April Glaspie in 1990 that, “You Americans can’t take casualties.”  We can.


     Q:  So, you reject the basic premise of the argument which is that -- I mean, can you address that point somehow.  You have shifted grounds (Inaudible.).


     Wolfowitz:  We haven’t shifted grounds.  We have been clear from the beginning that there are three pieces here that fit together and that liberating the Iraqi people from a terrible tyranny has been one of the major arguments.  And, in fact, that is the argument that used to be unanimously agreed on by Congress and the former Administration and the new Administration.  But, what we also said was -- particularly in light of September 11 and the way we had to look at the potential threat of terrorism and WMD -- it was a three-part argument as laid out by Powell in his U.N. presentation.  As laid out, I am quite certain, if you looked at Cheney’s speeches, it’s there.  It’s there in the President’s State of the union message.  But, I would say most of all, I am the one who was often criticized for talking too much about what Iraq could become once it was liberated and, indeed, what I believe it has to become -- because we have taken on a task and we have to win it.  But, when we win it, it will, in fact, advance American interests in the larger battle on terrorism.

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