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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Media Stakeout with Phoenix TV/TV France

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
February 25, 2003

(Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Media Stakeout with Phoenix TV/TV France)

Q: Could you explain if -- for French TV -- if the United Nations can't succeed in disarming Saddam is the war still the first solution according to you?

Wolfowitz: I hope that the United Nations will stand up to its responsibilities. What the United Nations did in Resolution 1441 was really a historic step, and now it's a historic test. I think it's important if the UN is going to be effective in solving problems in the future it's very important that it mean what it says.

But we're really at a point that unless there's a fundamental change, there has to be a fundamental change in Saddam's policies towards these weapons of mass terror that [inaudible]. I think the one real hope for a peaceful outcome is to convince the people around him and maybe himself that their best hope for their own personal safety is to leave Iraq.

In that respect, I must say unity of the international community--a unified message is sent that the coalition is together, would be one of the most valuable things.

But let me just [inaudible], because one reason I came here today was to talk about the quite extraordinary experience I had last Sunday in Dearborn, Michigan which is, for your listeners, it's where several hundred thousand Iraqi-Americans and Iraqi immigrants live. These are people who really know what's going on in the country. Some of your colleagues in Baghdad have interviewed Iraqis. There isn't an Iraqi in Baghdad who can speak the truth without being terrorized.

These are people who have families in Iraq, who have recently come from Iraq, and I'll tell you, they were unanimously supportive of President Bush's policy, and one of the reasons why is every single one of those people there had some really terrible story. One man told about rescuing three Kurdish or Turkomen--he wasn't sure which, survivors from a mass grave that had several hundred people that had been massacred. This guy was an [inaudible]. Another man who is actually the Imam of the largest mosque in the United States told how nearly half of his family of some 30 people had been killed. It was one story after another. They're just desperate for the liberation of their country and that's what--if it comes to the use of force--this will be for the liberation of Iraq, not the occupation of Iraq. And I think every country that stands with us and stands with the Iraqi people would be proud of doing so.

This is actually a little sign that one of them hand-made for the event. It really expressed the sentiment of that group. These people are so pro-American and so eager to see [inaudible]. The only thing that could lose their support is if we make a mistake here and a year from now [inaudible] horrible regime [inaudible].

Q: [inaudible], many people in France have this feeling that [inaudible] agreement, have the feeling that the United States were discovering a new tie in Iraq. But U.S.'s main concern [inaudible] for American people and you even [brought] some bases in the '90s for that.

Wolfowitz: Look, we started being concerned when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Saddam had every chance after he was defeated in that war to comply with the [inaudible] that were made of him and he's been defying them time after time. I believe it was Mitterrand who made a great call, correctly, I believe, about the oppression of the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein. It breaks my heart, frankly, to see so many people saying--and I agree with them--that they're against war. I'm against war. But they ought to be sending the message to Saddam -- the decision of war and peace is in his hands. He's the man who's been at war with his people now for several decades.

Q: [inaudible] that the states need stronger U.S. policy [inaudible]?

Wolfowitz: We're not going around the world to [inaudible]. We're respected most of all not for military might. I think we're respected for who we are and what we stand for and our values. Those are values that are universal. Again, I think the democracies of the world have a responsibility to stand up for human rights, to stand up for people who are being oppressed. Again, I find it very disappointing that there is this [inaudible] from the European countries who have proud traditions of standing for human rights, but they ignore the way Saddam treats his people.

Q: [inaudible], could you explain that?

Wolfowitz: Someday maybe I can write my autobiography. I've done a lot of things that your listeners might be surprised at. I was the American Ambassador to the largest Muslim population country in the world. I played a significant [inaudible] my career in helping to ease President Marcos out of power in the Philippines and paved the way for a democracy. I believe in the values this country stands for, I believe in avoiding war if at all possible. This is a war that Saddam created. We didn't go out looking for one. And I think, by the way I really believe in our European and Asian alliances. I think at the end of the day, and I hope we'll get there--having democracies stand together is a key to keeping the peace in the world. And we'll get through this one way or another. I hope we get through it arm in arm, but we'll be arm in arm by the end of the day.

Thank you.