Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Remarks at the World Affairs Council of Greater Philadelphia
MR. WOLFOWITZ: Thank you for the warm introduction. Thank you for finally getting me to Philadelphia. As you say, we had to go through a rather circuitous route to succeed. But I have been looking forward to the opportunity to come here, and specifically to the World Affairs Council. I really admire the great work that the World Affairs Councils do throughout America and the opportunity they offer to talk directly to Americans about the critical issues facing our country. And today I'd like to talk about, obviously, the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global war on terror.
It is important for public officials to get out of Washington and be able to share our views directly with the people, and I can't think of a better place to do that, to discuss our efforts to defend freedom than in this city where America's freedoms were first enshrined and nurtured.
We've experienced some difficulty in the past few weeks in the coalition mission in Iraq, but I think the American people have an understanding of this. They are surely as tough and determined as Americans were some 250 years ago. Significantly, it was in this city more than 200 years ago that Ben Franklin was asked, as he left the Constitutional Convention, "Well, Doctor, what have you got, a republic or a monarchy?" And his unforgettable response was, "A republic, if you can keep it."
In the first two-and-a-quarter centuries of our country's history we have learned some of the challenges of building free institutions even in what some might argue were the most favorable circumstances imaginable. In Afghanistan today 25 million Muslims who have suffered from a quarter-century of the most brutal invasion and civil war are struggling now to build those free institutions, with our help, under much more difficult circumstances. In Iraq another 25 million people, predominantly Muslims, are working to build a free Iraq after 35 years of torture and abuse by one of the worst tyrants of the last hundred years.
Their struggle is our struggle because their success will constitute major victories in what promises, unfortunately, to be a long war to rid the world of the terrible threat of terrorism that emerged in full light on September 11th, 2001.
Before I respond to questions, I'd like to provide some context about the situation in Iraq and then comment on the wider global war against terrorists. I thought the best way to provide some context for that war would be to briefly take you back to the world as it was just slightly over three years ago.
President Bush had just assumed office. He was well aware that the freedoms we value would again be challenged. The president's instructions to Secretary Rumsfeld were to transform the Department of Defense to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Shortly after taking office, the secretary visited with his counterparts in NATO and he told them about the experiences of one of his predecessors, a man named Dick Cheney. Back in 1989 when Cheney was undergoing his Senate confirmation hearings, not a single mention was made of the word "Iraq." And yet Secretary Cheney's tenure at the Defense Department would turn out to be marked -- some indeed would say dominated -- by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the extraordinary victory of the coalition in Operation Desert Storm.
It was one more reminder that we live in an era of surprise. And Rumsfeld wondered with his NATO counterparts whether some issue not mentioned in his confirmation hearings might come to dominate his time in office. I think I can tell you that terrorism was in his hearings. As a matter of fact, he highlighted it as one of his major concerns. But I don't believe the word "Afghanistan" was actually addressed as a question.
And indeed we did soon find out. It was precisely on the morning of September 11th, Secretary Rumsfeld and I were having breakfast with some members of Congress, and Rumsfeld was stressing to them the need to be prepared for the unexpected. No sooner those congressmen left , than in a single instant the Pentagon became a battle zone, the scene of billowing smoke, towering flames, twisted metal, and many dead and wounded. Americans transformed by their shock and anger were spurred into action. We went after the enemy. And to defend ourselves, we began to change the world in ways that few would have thought possible.
As President Bush has made clear from the beginning, we are in a different kind of war. September 11th changed everything for this country. In the space of a few hours, we saw the violence and grief that 19 terrorists can inflict. And we had a glimpse of the even greater harm the terrorists wished to do to us. The terrorists hate our country and everything we stand for in the world. They seek even deadlier weapons, and they would use them against us.
In the face of this danger, we have only one option, and that's to take the fight to the enemy. And we have done so. We have strengthened ties with new friends and sent soldiers abroad. Across the country, millions of porches proudly hung the American flag. Around the world, foreign capitals played our national anthem and offered condolences and support. We formed an amazing coalition of more than 80 nations, and we went to work.
Consider these results in less than three years: The coalition has overthrown two terrorist regimes, rescued two nations and liberated some 50 million people. We have captured or killed 46 of the 55 most wanted in Iraq, including Saddam Hussein himself. We have captured or killed close to two-thirds of the known senior al Qaeda operatives. We have seized or frozen over $200 million in terrorist assets. We have disrupted terrorist cells on most continents. We have dismantled a dangerous nuclear proliferation network led by A.Q. Khan, the former head of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, a network that had been providing nuclear technology to dangerous regimes around the world, including Iran and North Korea. And we persuaded Libya, long a terrorist sponsor, to eliminate its chemical and nuclear- related programs and to accept international inspections.
Those are impressive accomplishments. But there are many other measures of progress that may not be as easily tabulated -- the bombs that didn't go off; the attacks that were thwarted by a vigilant soldier or U.S. Coast Guard patrol; the regimes that might once have harbored our enemies who dare not risk the wrath of the coalition.
In the light of all that's been done and all that's been prevented, it may be tempting for some to think that the worst is passed, and that terrorism might go back to being just another threat that receded into history. Unfortunately, that would be a dangerous miscalculation. Even today, we are still closer to the beginning of this struggle than to its end.
We face adversaries unlike any we've known. They don't seek an armistice; they have no territory to defend, no populous to answer to. They threaten us from dark corners, a diffuse and shadowy global network not easily weeded out. And despite all that has been accomplished in these recent months, they still have an advantage. The terrorist needs only to be lucky once; as defenders, we need to be lucky all the time.
And our task is complicated because the war on terror turns our greatest strengths into our greatest sources of vulnerability. Indeed, our very openness, that which makes us the most productive and free society in the world, makes us uniquely vulnerable to these enemies. Our society is based on trust, and the terrorist goal is to strike at that trust, to terrorize, to make you fearful to the point that you alter your behavior. If they succeed in that mission, then everything we've built will be lost. And that's why this war on terror can never be won solely on defense.
No matter what is done to defend against attack, terrorists can always adjust their operations and find new vulnerability. They can attack at any time in any place using different techniques. It is not possible to defend in every place at all times against every conceivable technique. So the only way to win this war is to root out terrorists at their source, to put the pressure on them. We need to change their way of life before they change ours. We need to act before the enemy develops more powerful means through which to inflict massive damage on greater numbers of our people. In short, as they say in the defense business, we need to get inside of their decision cycle.
Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. The defeat of tyranny and violence in that nation and the rise of democracy in the heart of the Middle East will be a crucial setback for international terror. We will do what is necessary, destroying the terrorists, returning sovereignty to the Iraqi people and helping them to build a stable and self-governing nation. Because we are strong and resolute, Iraq will never go back to the camp of tyranny and terror. But America must never go back to the false comforts of the world before September 11th.
Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness. And this nation has made a decision: We will engage the enemy, facing him with our military in Afghanistan and Iraq today so that we do not have to face him with armies of firefighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities. And that is why we approached Afghanistan and Iraq with such urgency.
In Afghanistan, terrorist camps have been dismantled, and the old regime's former patron, Osama bin Laden, is in flight. Afghans have drafted a new constitution with rule by the people. For the first time in decades, young girls are allowed to attend school and to see a doctor.
In Iraq, a dictator that shot at American war planes, supported and financed terrorism, sought and had used weapons of mass destruction, and brutalized his people, now rails against America from a prison, not a palace. Terrorists no longer have a friend in the seat of power in Baghdad. Slowly, painfully slowly, a new nation is being built there at a pace that is, nonetheless, rapid by any historical standard, in many ways faster than it took to rebuild Japan and Germany after World War II.
While there is much news that is saddening from Iraq, there is much good news today as well. Just two months ago, the Transitional Administrative Law was approved by the Iraqi Governing Council. It's the most liberal basic governance document in the Arab world, with assurances of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly. One development that took place in the final few days leading up to that interim constitution, as it's sometimes called for shorthand, was a demonstration by Iraqis, including Iraqi women, against a resolution of the Governing Council that was felt to be constricting of women's rights. And I remember seeing on the Internet a picture of two Iraqi women in very traditional Muslim garb, covered entirely except for their faces not veiled, in this demonstration, and one of them saying, "We didn't suffer under Saddam's tyranny for so long to be tyrannized by a new group." The Iraqi Governing Council responded to that pressure, and there are fundamental rights for women enshrined in the new constitution.
In the economy we have successfully introduced a new Iraqi currency that gets rid of Saddam's face, that evil face that people used to have to see every time they conducted an economic transaction. More than 4.5 trillion Iraqi dinars have been exchanged, making it the most heavily traded currency in the Middle East. And its value, while stable, has appreciated since it was first issued. Oil production and power generation have both surpassed pre- war levels. All 22 universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges are open. Coalition forces have rehabilitated over 2,200 schools. All 240 hospitals and more than 1,200 health clinics are open. And a statistic that is both encouraging and, in a certain way, shocking, health care spending in Iraq has increased 30 times, 3,000 percent, over its pre-war levels; shocking because it tells you something about how Saddam misused his country's resources. And in what I think is an extraordinary development in a country where there was not only no such thing as a free press, where people were terrified to speak their minds, even to their closest friends, 170 newspapers are now published in Iraq today.
As we approach the date when Iraqis will achieve self-government, our coalition and the Iraqi people are enduring some tough moments. Let's be clear: we're engaged in a test of wills. And let's be clear: we're engaged still against an enemy that inspires awesome fear.
It was just a little over a year ago that we all watched the statue of Saddam Hussein fall in the heart of Baghdad. And I think we can probably all remember the live coverage of that historic moment. Iraqis, eager to start a new page in their national history, enthusiastically tried to pull down the statue with the limited resources they had: a length of rope that didn't even reach all the way to the ground. Eventually, a group of U.S. Marines saw what was happening and joined in the Iraqi effort. Working together -- working together I believe is symbolically significant -- the Marines and the Iraqis brought down that symbol of oppression and provided an image that will be etched in our collective memory forever. And on that day, 25 million of some of the most talented people in the Muslim and Arab world were liberated from one of the worst tyrannies.
According to a somewhat popular theme still these days, the world is full of bad guys, and Saddam Hussein is just another bad guy. When I hear Saddam referred to in that way, I can only conclude that the person speaking lacks even a most basic understanding of what it was like to live in Saddam's Iraq. In my career, as Buntzie mentioned, I've known some pretty bad guys, as they say, up close and personal, people like the former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, or the former Indonesian dictator Suharto. To paraphrase a famous vice presidential debate, I knew these men, and Ferdinand Marcos was no Saddam Hussein.
Saddam Hussein was much more than just another bad guy. He institutionalized and sanctioned brutality on a scale that is simply imaginable (sic) to most Americans.
The stories go on and on.
Let me just mention one that is current. You can read about it -- not, that I know of, in the national news, but in the Houston newspapers. They're reporting about a group of seven Iraqi businessmen who are at the Texas Medical Center in Houston where they're undergoing surgery to repair some of the damage inflicted on them some 10 years ago.
When Iraq's economy was falling into shambles, Saddam's way of placing blame was this: he ordered a few merchants to be rounded up. With flimsy evidence, they were found guilty of destabilizing the Iraqi economy and were sentenced to lose their right hands. The amputations were filmed and the video, as well as the hands, were sent to Saddam.
In a Houston doctor's office recently, one man was quoted as saying you spend your whole life doing and saying the right things, then someone comes and cuts your hands off for no reason at all. It's a torture that never ends. Hopefully, for these men, at least to some degree, it will end with the treatment they're getting now in Houston.
But in fact, that fear that is instilled by a thousand or tens of thousands of such acts of brutality is not a fear that goes away overnight. It is a fear that we are still contending with in Iraq and it is a fear that our enemy works every day to instill in the minds of Iraqis.
This is an enemy that offers no vision of hope. Unlike almost any other so-called guerrilla war that I can recall, usually guerrillas emphasize their positive program. These only emphasize death and fear and destruction, and remind people that they are on a list to be punished, if and when the Americans leave. Which is why our will becomes so important in winning this struggle.
Until Iraqis are convinced that Saddam's regime has been permanently and irreversibly removed, and until a long and ghastly part of their history is put to rest and overcome, that fear will remain and it will remain one of our biggest challenges.
That history of atrocities and the punishment of those responsible are directly linked to our success in helping the Iraqi people build a free and democratic future. Convincing them of this truth -- that Saddam and the Saddamists are finished -- will continue to require investments of our time and our resources and our precious men and women in uniform, to continue to build trust among the Iraqi people.
Iraq has been a free country for a single year, after decades of systematic abuse by a regime of murderers and torturers. A year after Iraq's liberation it is important to pause and consider what we have accomplished together with the Iraqi people. As one soldier recently wrote to the Houston Chronicle, the reality is that we're accomplishing a tremendous amount here and the Iraqi people are not only benefitting greatly, but are enthusiastically supportive. The terrorists seek to derail that progress, but they must not be permitted to do so. A band of terrorists and murderers must not be allowed to determine the future of 25 million Iraqis. But we will not finally defeat that enemy simply by incapacitating the terrorists we find or breaking up their cells, though both are essential. We also need to find ways to make it difficult for them to recruit new adherents, to find ways to persuade people that hatred for the West is built on lies told to them by leaders who lie to them.
If we keep our commitment to helping Afghans and Iraqis chart their course toward a better future and demonstrate that we have no motive other than a more peaceful planet, then we will have struck a major blow to the ideology of terror and made major steps forward in making our country safer. The terrorists know that; that's why they're fighting us so fiercely today. They know that they have no future in freedom.
I would refer you, by the way, to a remarkable letter, a pretty amazing letter , by one of the terrorists fighting us in Iraq, a man named Abu Musaab Zarqawi, a close affiliate of al Qaeda, writing to his colleagues in Afghanistan. It was captured en route. It's available on the Internet. It is remarkable how he realizes that their only hope lies in sowing enough destruction and chaos, and creating a civil war before the Iraqis have their own government and their own country.
These terrorists know that the Iraqi and Afghan people's success in taking hold of their future will one day serve as a powerful example to oppressed people in neighboring lands. As George Washington said, "Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth."
And so we must see the mission through in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we will. We must continue to prosecute the war on terrorism as a war, using all the elements of national power, not simply law enforcement, and we will. And we must help the hundreds of millions of Muslims who would like to live in freedom, and who believe in moderation, to succeed in changing the face of the Muslim world for the better. And we must continue putting pressure on terrorist regimes to give up their ambitions for weapons of mass destruction the way Libya has, and pursue innovative approaches to stopping the shipment of those capabilities, and we will. And we must continue to transform our military structure from a Cold War posture to one that is more suited to the demands of this era.
In recent days there's been a lot of discussion about the actions of some members of the military involved with the care of prisoners in Iraq. The actions of the soldiers in those photos are totally unacceptable. They betrayed their comrades who serve honorably every day, and they have damaged the cause for which brave men and women are fighting and dying.
Let me repeat, those actions are totally unacceptable. We will deal with the offenders and we will take action to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. Our system works.
Secretary Rumsfeld will be testifying at length on this subject tomorrow before the Senate Armed Services Committee, be talking about how we learned of these offenses, the actions we took and the steps we're taking to correct any problems. And I'm sure it will be covered live, and I encourage you, if you're disappointed at getting me today, you can get many hours of him tomorrow.
But it's also important to remember that the misdeeds of a few do not reflect the noble work and sacrifice of the many. Today in places across the globe our soldiers are carrying on in the spirit of the brave men and women who risked all right here in Philadelphia to build, against all possible odds, a great nation, a global symbol of hope and a free society that offers an example of opportunity for all.
Recently as he prepared to lead his troops into action in Fallujah, a Marine company commander took time to write his father, a retired Marine:
"This battle is going to have far-reaching effects on not only the war here," this Marine wrote, "but in the overall war on terrorism. We have to be very precise in our application of combat power. We cannot kill a lot of innocent folks. There will be no shock and awe.
"This battle is the Marine Corps' Belleau Wood for this war. A lot of terrorists and foreign fighters are holed up in Fallujah. It has been a sanctuary for them. The Marine Corps," he said, "will either reaffirm its place in history as one of the greatest fighting organizations in the world or we will die trying.
"The Marines are fired up but," he said, "I'm nervous for them because I know how much is riding on this fight. But every time I've been nervous during my career about the outcome of events when young Marines were involved, they have always," he said, "always exceeded my expectations.
"God bless these great Americans," he concluded to his father, "who are ensuring that we continue to fight an away schedule."
And let me join with him in saying God bless all of our Marines and soldiers and sailors and airmen and Coast Guardsmen. Our prayers are with him and with all of our people currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other remote locations of the world. They are making America and the world more secure by helping the Iraqi people and Afghan people build free and prosperous democracies in the heart of the Middle East. Whether members of active duty, Reserve or National Guard units, or civilians, these heroes embody the best ideals of our nation, serving so that our people can be safe and so that others may be free. We thank them all for the sacrifices they endure.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz has agreed to answer questions, and I just want to re-state the council's question policy, which is that we want questions, not statements, not long introductions to a question. All the folks here have come to hear him, and we want them to be able to do so.
So -- and we have roving mikes around the country -- ah, around the country -- (laughs, laughter). Well, we -- our stretch is really quite wide -- around the room. And so we will wait till the mikes get to you. Do I have some questions? I think we have a student over here, and then, perhaps, the -- Helen in the back?
Q What lessons did the U.S. learn in Vietnam that are currently being applied to our strategy in Iraq?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: Thank you. I think the differences are much larger than similarities, but I would say two things that apply, and I -- they probably apply, I think, across a great many of what is -- I wish there were a better word for it -- called low-intensity conflict. It's not low-intensity if you're in it. One is the importance of inspiring the people, who are really the decisive battleground here, with a vision that we're providing something that is to their benefit. This is not a war that's going to be won against the Iraqi people; it has to be won with the Iraqi people. And that's the second point. In fact, it's a war that has to be won by the Iraqi people. Our role is to give them the opportunity to stand up their own political institutions, to stand up their own security forces, and to get the basic elements of a functioning economy working. But they have to -- in the end of the day, they're going to be the key to success.
I would emphasize that they are already doing, I think, much more than is commonly known. And it seems to me every time we have an Iraqi police unit that is disappointing in its performance, it makes the front pages. But when Iraqis die in the line of duty, it doesn't make the front pages back here. More than 300 Iraqis have died fighting with us since the beginning of this conflict, and most of it, really, since September 1st. And in the recent fighting that has been very severe, while there have been quite a few disappointments, especially out in Fallujah and down in the what we call the Shi'a heartland, the -- there are other places like Mosul, which has been a real success story. And in fact, I guess I'd like to emphasize that because the 101st Airborne Division, which very successfully worked in Mosul to separate the small percentage of the population that are enemy from the overwhelming majority that I think really want to see a new Iraq, was led by General Dave Petraeus, who's going back to Iraq, has been nominated to have a third star to go back to Iraq to take overall charge of this effort of building Iraqi security forces. And the key to success is going to depend on Iraqis in the end.
Q Sir, that last question leads directly to my question, which is, okay, at the end of the day, where are we? What is -- can you give us some brush strokes of what is our exit strategy for Iraq, and some idea of a timeline?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: Okay, when you say "at the end of the day" I think you're recognizing we're not at the end of the day; we're in a process. And just to give you a sort of comparative standard, in Bosnia, after the Dayton Accord in 1995, some people, I think mistakenly, said we would be out of there in a year. I think we quickly came to our senses. It's now nine years later, but we have been steadily moving out of Bosnia, and by the end of this year there very well may be only the most minimal American military presence. That's nine years.
I would emphasize Iraq is vastly more important to our country, to our future, to winning the war on terrorism than Bosnia, so the stakes are enormous. I think given what that country has been through, as I tried to explain in my opening remarks, it's pretty amazing it's done as well as it has in the last 12 months.
To briefly encapsulate, the process forward on the political front -- and it's important to emphasize this -- it's a process, and a lot of attention to this July 1st date, when Iraq will have what we call the interim Iraqi government, which will be the first sovereign Iraqi government since liberation, is a step in a process. Some people think this is the end of the day and the Americans will leave. In fact, I have to tell you, one of the things we have to counter in the minds of quite a few Iraqis, some of them are fearful that that's exactly what it means. It doesn't mean it. There are over 100,000 American troops will be in Iraq on June 30th, and there will be just as many American troops in Iraq on July 2nd. But what there will be is a sovereign Iraqi government. To give you a timeline -- that's what we had in Afghanistan, actually, in December of 2001.
That government is to be replaced by an elected transitional government. You notice we go from interim to transitional. The key thing is we go to elections at the end of this year so that that elected transitional government assumes office next January. You might even say that of all the responsibilities of the interim government in the next six months, the most important one is to help organize elections, with the help of the United Nations.
The most important task of that transitional government that starts in January is to produce a constitution, so that the end of next year -- and now I'm getting close to the end of the day -- although it's still many, many steps beyond, I'm sure. But it will be a constitutionally elected Iraqi government.
Now, in parallel, we are moving as rapidly as we know how, to create Iraqi security forces that can effectively preserve law and order, can effectively fight gangs like Muqtada Sadr, and most importantly, can deal with really the most vicious enemy we face, which is this combination of old strong men from the Saddam regime and their terrorist allies -- some of them foreigners, some of them Iraqis. That's going to take time. But I think the goal is, particularly when it comes to providing security in populated areas, that Iraqis will be assuming more and more of that responsibility. It's a strategy for success.
That word exit puts an emphasis on when you go and when you leave. We're successful every time we can turn the principal responsibility for an Iraqi city over to Iraqi security forces. In the recent fighting up in Mosul, when the enemy attacked the city government -- or the provincial government, excuse me -- in downtown Mosul, the governor, who is a Sunni Arab, stood his ground. The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps stood its ground. The Iraqis, though they knew that we were there if they needed help in extremis, the Iraqi security forces restored order in Mosul. That's already a major step toward success.
Q Hello Undersecretary, thank you for gracing us with your presence today.
When I look at the post-9/11 world, I see the U.S. toning down its rhetoric on the horrors of the Russian invasion of Chechnya; I see us toning down our rhetoric on Chinese actions in Xinjiang in Central Asia; I see us not talking enough about what Malaysia and Singapore are doing with their internal security acts; and I finally see us trying to reconstitute relations with an Indonesian army that, although reformed, has still been implicated in numerous human rights abuses.
Given these examples, plus the controversial nature of the Patriot Act and the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, in addition to the most recent abuse of Iraqi prisoners, how does the United States manage to maintain its image as a beacon of hope and democracy without backsliding on these issues and being seen as a culprit that violates individual rights and civil liberties?
(Light applause, scattered boos.)
MR. WOLFOWITZ: I think it's an important question. And it's a real challenge. And I would -- you know, you've listed some things that concern you. I would say, in fact, you mentioned Indonesia is a country I know very well and I have hopes for. In fact, I was quite excited five years ago when they finally threw off the tyranny of President Suharto and began to build a democracy. And they did it in the worst possible circumstances; they did it in the wake of a real economic typhoon that had virtually collapsed the Indonesian economy. They've been making pretty impressive progress in the face of that over the last five years. But they, too, face a threat from terrorists. They need security against those terrorists. And we need to work with them in a sensible way to achieve some balance between defeating terrorists, which does require violent actions, which does require detaining people, which does require interrogating people, but at the same time we've got to do it in ways that meet the standards and ideals that we fight for. That's why we have said over and over again the kind of behavior that is depicted in those photographs is not only so unacceptable, but it is fundamentally damaging to the cause for which we're fighting. And we have to take action to do everything we can to prevent it in the future.
I would underscore, I think, one of the most important developments in the last year, and it's had a big effect in the Middle East, has been President Bush's speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, where he talked about the fact that we need to begin taking a different approach to the Arab and Muslim world. It doesn't mean that we are suddenly going to go changing governments by force, imposing democracy, as though democracy is something you impose on people, but that we are going to work to give Arabs the chance to build the kinds of free institutions that we have lived from -- under and benefited from for so long. And it recalls to me, in the introduction it was mentioned that when I was assistant secretary of State in 1986 I was one of the people participating in American policy that effectively helped the Filipino people get rid of the Marcos dictatorship in a much more peaceful way. I would underscore that was the best way for those things to happen.
When I became assistant secretary of State in 1982 there was one democracy in all of East Asia, and that was Japan. And there were, frankly, a lot of people who, I guess, considered themselves realists who said, That's the way it has to be, that's the way it's going to be forever, that Marcos is a -- I heard this -- Marcos is a bad guy, but you don't understand how inept the Philippine opposition is. I heard people -- intelligent, rational, humane people -- saying Korea has never had a democracy in its history, and it's not capable of one. I heard people say, yeah, Taiwan has a terrible dictatorship, but it's not nearly as bad as the one on the mainland.
I mention those examples because in the course of the 1980s every one of those countries became a democracy, some more successful than others, but every one, I think, better off for it. And I think what the president spoke about in that speech at the National Endowment for Democracy, what he spoke about again a few weeks later in Westminster in London, sets out a horizon that some people say is hopelessly unrealistic; but I think it's a false realism that says we're better off if the Arab world continues to be governed by dictators.
One reason some of those dictators would like to see us fail in Iraq is because they know it means change, and positive change. It doesn't mean things will move forward uniformly positively, it doesn't mean that we won't make some terrible mistakes, or at least individuals will make some terrible mistakes, and it doesn't mean that we aren't going to have to make some difficult compromises because this is a war and wars are difficult. But I think we're headed in a very important new direction and I think the world's going to be much better off 10 or 20 years from now because of the incredible sacrifice that our soldiers and sailors and service-people are making.
Q Thank you, Secretary of State. I'm Morton Janvier (sp). I'm from Haiti. Everything have been said, as a former soldier, everything a human being says is a lie. That's what the universe is all about. The universe is a lie. So I was in Haiti, which is my country. I saw people -- (inaudible) -- we need food, that's the only thing we need. So since I was born, this country is the way it is, and now it's worse.
And as a superpower, I'm here, since I came here -- we will come to my question, as everything is a lie, people say I'm crazy, I don't know anything, I'm just so stupid, I'm a bad person. So what can I do, if you were in my place, in a situation I can help my country? I have the skill required to help them, but because everything is a lie, if I have to talk to anybody, anywhere -- I've sent letters, I've talked to people everywhere. It just doesn't work. That's the way the universe goes. You can't change it.
So now, what can be done to see the whole world together, every country? We don't have to fight each other in the sense we hate each other. We must love each other, share in the same piece of cake together, because we belong to one universe.
Thank you very much.
MR. WOLFOWITZ: I'm not sure if it was a question, but I think you are certainly expressing your desire to see Haiti do better. And I think one of the keys to success everywhere is when people take responsibility for their own future, as we hope is going to happen in Iraq and we've seen happen -- I mean, let me say this. We've seen it happen in many, many places in the world where 20 or 30 years ago, people were prepared to write people off.
MODERATOR: I think we have time for just one or two more. Yes. And the young man with the tie. I think there was a gentleman behind him. The white shirt.
Q Secretary Wolfowitz, I just returned from deployment with the Enterprise in the Northern Arabian Gulf. And the principal topic of conversation -- (interrupted by applause). I'm just a reservist, I wasn't there that long. But thank you. (Laughter.)
MR. WOLFOWITZ: You earned the applause, though.
Q The principal topic of conversation around the table, from the lowest ranks to the highest, was are we putting our money in the right place, considering we have a limited budget to fight the war on terror. And if so, aren't we making ourselves more vulnerable at home fighting the war on terror around the world because we're focusing so much money in Iraq?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: I don't think -- I mean, if we're talking about the amounts of money involved up against the challenge for American security, I mean, I can't think of a war we've fought where the stakes are so high, and where we still -- the defense burden was as relatively small as it is.
I think the question is are we doing what we need to do. And I think -- I'm not the expert on homeland security. I know we're putting enormous resources into defensive measures. And in fact, I know we in the Defense Department are looking at how we can do more -- because we have some of the best biological defense research in the world, how we can do more to accelerate those kinds of efforts and stay ahead of possible terrorists threats.
But I would repeat what I said in the speech and what the president has said over and over again. We're not going to win this war simply on defense; we're not going to win this war simply by sitting back and figuring out how we can prevent every possible terrorist attack. I think we will be better off in the long run when Afghanistan and Iraq are secure places and no longer sanctuaries for terrorists; when governments are out of the business of actively sponsoring terrorists; when the financial and technical resources that these networks feed off of can be dried up. It doesn't mean you can prevent every individual terrorist in the world; people can still do things individually. But the threat will be significantly more manageable when it's down to just isolated individuals and not global terrorist networks or state sponsors of terrorism.
MODERATOR: Yes? Last question, please.
Q Mr. Wolfowitz, the policy of transformation obviously played a major role in both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. Would you say that the administration's authorization of upward of 10,000 new troops to be sent to Iraq represents a retreat from that policy?
MR. WOLFOWITZ: You know, there's a lot of mythology on this subject that somehow there was some theoretical doctrine of, as you referred to, a transformation of how to manage the Defense Department that was the reason why we fought the war in Afghanistan with 10,000 troops instead of 100,000 troops the way the Soviet Union did.
In case you didn't notice, the Soviet Union's 100,000 troops was a major liability. And I can tell you, because I had these discussions with General Franks . You may not remember this, but I think three weeks into the war in Afghanistan we were already said to be in a quagmire. And I was pressing him, I'll admit it, as to whether -- are you sure you don't need more troops? He was the one who emphatically said he not only didn't need more, he didn't want more. He said if by February the situation hasn't changed, I'll come back and look at it again, but I do not want to suffer the same fate as the Soviet Union did; I do not want to become an onerous occupying power.
And that's been the strategy we've been following in Afghanistan ever since. I think it's the right strategy. I think it's not simply a question of where would you get half a million peacekeepers for Afghanistan, I can't imagine half a million peacekeepers being welcome in that country for long.
Iraq is a completely different issue. But again, it's not some abstract theory about how to manage the Pentagon that was at work, it was, again, the combatant commander. And it happens to be the same combatant commander, General Franks, who said my goal is not to have the largest force possible on the ground, that the bigger the force is the lower the risk. He said, in fact, the way to minimize risk frequently is to be fast; to get in fast, to get to Baghdad fast, get across the border fast, to get ahead of the enemy. And I think he used the phrase "Speed kills -- it kills the enemy. "
And there is a fundamental tension between having a very large force and having a force that moves rapidly. And I think there's no question -- I shouldn't say no question; all these things are debatable. But it seems to me he made the right judgment, and that the reason the major combat phase went so miraculously well and quickly was because we got to Baghdad fast.
We're in a different situation now. The fact that we need extra troops -- and we do need them, particularly to deal with Najaf and Karbala, is, again, not a point of doctrine. We're not approaching this thing doctrinally, we're approaching it based on the situation as we face it at the time, on the commanders' requests at the time. That doesn't mean that the commanders' requests are not scrutinized intelligently by the civilian leadership of the Defense Department. But I don't know of a single request for forces that our commanders have made that has been turned down. They're getting what they need. They do not want more than they need because that becomes a problem.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much.