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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Interview with Tom Ricks, Washington Post

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
December 18, 2002

Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2002

(Interview with Tom Ricks, Washington Post)

Wolfowitz: Hello, hi Tom, fine, thank you.

Kevin Kellems: And I'm here too, full disclosure.

Q: (inaudible)


Wolfowitz: First of all, it has to be said, first of all, that the President hasn't made any decision yet about the use of force and we are still hoping that this thing might be resolved by the voluntary disarmament of Iraq. So, but with respect to thinking about the use of force, it would be a terrible mistake for anyone to think that they can predict with confidence what the course of a war is going to be, especially against someone like Saddam Hussein who has chemical and biological weapons.

And, we have been thinking through the implications of the possible use of force here for months, and thinking very carefully about all the ways in which things can go wrong and that's the only prudent way to plan. The, you've got to be prepared for the worst case; it's the best chance you have of preventing it, and that's something that Rumsfeld and Franks have been emphasizing from the beginning and pushing very hard on, and constantly thinking about new questions and new issues to answer. In fact, I think if you check out what the Secretary said in his press briefing just today, he specifically said that making an assumption that Iraqi forces might fold quickly is not, I'm quoting here, "not the way to look at the situation."

Well he, yeah, and it's, it's also prudent to think about how things could break your way so that, among other things, you don't plunge ahead with an assumption that unnecessarily kills Americans or Iraqis or civilians, because things may break in a more favorable direction, and you need to be prepared for that.

But the best way to handle that is clearly from a base of being able to handle the worst things and I've been emphasizing repeatedly in, go back and find it in the Fletcher speech where I remember it clearly. I think I said it, in London I said it, I mean I say it in most opportunities because I believe that, one of the really big risks here, and obviously much bigger than it was ten years ago, is that Saddam ends up using his most terrible weapons. And that is something that we think a lot about and we are very concerned about, and we wouldn't be contemplating this course of action if it weren't for the very substantial risks in leaving him alone with those weapons.

By the way, if I'm optimistic about anything, it's not the course of war. I think people are overly pessimistic about the aftermath. It doesn't mean that I'm confident about the aftermath, but there's certainly some reason to think that would go better rather than worse, but I think when it comes to the military planning, we've really got to think very hard about the ways things can go wrong.

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