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Wolfowitz: Newly Freed Iraq Provides 'Greater Security' for U.S., World

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2003 – An Iraq newly freed from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein provides "a greater security for our country and for the whole world," U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said here April 17.

Also, the Iraqi people now have the opportunity to build better lives for themselves under a new, democratic government, the deputy defense secretary told Fox News television host John Gibson.

"And that will be truly a brand new development for the whole Arab world," Wolfowitz said.

He pointed to other areas of the world such as the Philippines and South Korea -- in which the democratic process successfully supplanted less citizen-friendly governments.

A democratic Iraq, he emphasized, can be a role model of self- government for the Arab world.

"I think it's the prospect of inspiring other people by example to do what I think the Iraqis are now free to be able to do," Wolfowitz said.

In the days since the dictator's fall from power, news reports have depicted some Iraqis looting government buildings. Such events, Wolfowitz believes, are a natural outcome when a formerly oppressed people are freed from the iron rule of a brutal dictator like Hussein.

However, he noted that law and order is returning to the country and "things are settling down." "What we're finding is even a relatively small presence of American or British forces begins to give the Iraqis the courage to take care of their own affairs," the deputy defense secretary remarked.

Wolfowitz maintains the United States and its allies "paid a very big price" for seeking to control Saddam through sanctions and the establishment of northern and southern fly zones for more than a decade since the end of the Gulf War.

"It was a price that was paid in money. It was a price that was paid in lives," he pointed out.

However, "the biggest price of all was that we made ourselves a huge target for people like Usama bin Laden," Wolfowitz declared, "who kept complaining about the fact that we were bombing Iraq every day, and that we had troops occupying the holy land of Saudi Arabia."

Regarding the ongoing search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Wolfowitz noted that if they're there, "we've got to find them so (they) don't fall into the wrong hands."

However, he continued, "right now we're focused" more on restoring order and stabilizing social conditions in Iraq.

The whole point of the United States and its allies going to war with Saddam was security and the liberation of the Iraqi people not oil Wolfowitz emphasized.

"We went to war to remove a threat to us and we removed that threat," he pointed out. He added, "It's also clear in the process we've removed a regime that was brutalizing the Iraqi people it was never a war for oil."

Televised images of jubilant Iraqis celebrating their new freedoms demonstrate the feelings of a populace that's been liberated from a despot, Wolfowitz noted.

The war, he concluded, "actually liberated a whole important country in the Arab world."

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