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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Interview on PBS with Charlie Rose

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
August 04, 2003

Rose: Paul Wolfowitz is here. He’s the Deputy Secretary of Defense perhaps, the best known Deputy Secretary in the history of the Pentagon. A graduate of Cornell and the University of Chicago, he previously served in the Reagan and Bush Administrations and was Dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins. He plays a principal role in shaping U.S. policy towards Iraq. I’m pleased to have him on this program to talk about that and other things. Welcome.

Wolfowitz: Good to be here Charlie.

Rose: Great to have you here.

Tell me as we begin with a broad picture here. What’s the great idea that is at play in the battle for Iraq in your judgment?

Wolfowitiz: I think it is really that the battle to win the peace in Iraq is now the central front in the war on terrorism. And the war on terrorism really has two pieces to it and both of them are in play in Iraq.

One is the whole effort to capture and kill terrorists and to root out these terrorist networks but the other piece of it which is just as important and why I think we have a real opportunity in Iraq is to, in the President’s words of a year ago, to build a better world beyond the war on terror. To demonstrate especially to the Arab and Muslim world that there is a better way than the way of the terrorist, and part of what the terrorists feed on is a sense of despair and defeat, that Muslim societies all around them are failures and they shouldn’t be. And there’s no reason, the Arabs are talented people, they come to this country and they do great things but they’ve lived under oppressive governments now for decades and we just got rid of one of the most oppressive.

Rose: Do you think the Arab world and the Muslim world understands that, that this is a real opportunity and share with the United States that opportunity?

Wolfowitz: Well you know I’m really struck because I know quite a few Arab democrats and there are a lot of Arab democrats who understand it perfectly. I am struck at how many Arabs who share our values really do see what’s at stake in Iraq. They don’t all, there are a lot of myths out there that this was a war for oil, or totake the resources of the Iraqi people: absolute nonsense and at some point they’ll see that it’s absolute nonsense. And then there are people who benefit from the stagnation of theMuslim and Arab world and they’re a little bit afraid of change and they’re not quite sure where it’s going but you know we’ve had some very interesting discussions recently with the Turkish foreign minister and with people from Turkey and Turkey is one of the great examples in the Muslim world of a country that’s secular and democratic and making real progress. And the Turks see the stakes – the Turks see that a democratic free Iraq would not only be a good neighbor for them but help join them in moving the Muslim world forward.

Rose: Why didn’t they join us then?

Wolfowitz: Oh that’s a complicated question but they are joining us now. They really want to be part of building a free and democratic Iraq.

Rose: And prepared to send troops?

Wolfowitz: They are prepared to. It’s a delicate issue because their relations with the Kurds are ambivalent to say the least. We’ve talked to them though about participating not in the Kurdish areas in the north but in the center and south of Iraq. Even more than troops though I think they want to be part of the political and economic reconstruction - I shouldn’t use that word reconstruction. I mean this country was, deconstructed by Saddam over 35 years and the wealth of the country was poured into palaces and torture chambers and tanks and artillery pieces and weapons of mass destruction. It’s really a matter of rehabilitating a country that has just been run into the ground.

Rose: The comparisons, it is said about you that you look to an East Asian model because of your own experience out there. That happened after World War II. Others say there is a model in Germany in terms of what the United States was able to do with the Marshall plan. Are they models for what you think can be done in Iraq?

Wolfowitz: Well the experience I had in East Asia, and it’s not me personally -- I mean our country had it. If you think back, for me it coincided with becoming the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia in 1982 and at that time, if you think back, Japan was the only democracy in East Asia. The Philippines made a dramatic transition to democracy and I’m proud to have played a small role in that when I was at the State Department.

Rose: You recommended to President Reagan he should let Marcos go.

Wolfowitz: Well one of quite a few people who did. And I think that had a big influence elsewhere, I think it had a big influence on the transition that took place in South Korea just a year later. And South Korea has been an example that has inspired others. Taiwan, first Chinese democracy maybe in history, there’s some debate about whether there was a predecessor but no question that here’s a Chinese society that’s demonstrated a capacity for democracy. That has a huge influence by it’s example on other Chinese particularly, but throughout Asia. I was Ambassador to Indonesia for 3 years. That is the largest Muslim population of any country in the world and when I was there it was a dictator named Suharto who ran the country, now they have a democratically elected President, it’s a woman named Megawati. They’re still struggling - it’s not. I’m not saying it’s a rosy picture, but I think that kind of evolution over a 20-year period didn’t happen over night. It’s something that can happen in the Arab world as well. We’ll all be better off when it does; that’s the important point.

Rose: And how goes it so far?

Wolfowitz: In Iraq?

Rose: In Iraq.

Wolfowitz: A lot better than what I read in the newspapers. I was just there for almost 5 days. Thanks to the wonderful support of the U.S. military, I think we did about 2-weeks worth of travel in 5 days of 16 hours each. And of course our troops are doing a magnificent job, that’s part of the story. But the other part of the story is that the Iraqi people are part of this coalition.

Three really strong impressions:

Number one enormous gratitude for their liberation. As we would drive by little kids would run up to road in order to wave and give us a thumbs-up sign. Meeting after meeting with town councilmen in the Shi’a heartland in Najaf and Karbala up north. We have a mixed population of Kurds and Arabs and Turks over and over again, "Thank you President Bush", "Thank you Prime Minister Blair", "Thank you coalition troops for liberating us."

One of the most dramatic moments in that regard came when we passed the shrine of Ali in Karbala, one of the holiest shrines of Shi’a Islam and people waved and I couldn’t roll down the windows in my car because it was unfortunately armored but people in my party who did roll down the windows heard people calling out, "Thank you Bush" and "Hooray" and "Thank you America."

Rose: And where does the resistance come from?

Wolfowitz: Well that’s an interesting and it’s a very important question. And the resistance – so called resistance -- I wouldn’t dignify these people with the same word that we used for the anti-Nazi resistance. This is a reactionary resistance that aims to restore that evil regime that persecuted Iraqis of all kinds, all religions, all ethnic groups for 35-years and it is basically centered on those elements that were the instruments of terror and torture of the old regime. The so called Special Security Organization which is kind of like the Gostapo, the Special Republican Guards which is like the (inaudible) that kept an eye on the Republican Guards who were in turn keeping an eye on the regular Army.

This evil group that Uday Hussein organized called the fedayeen Saddam who was one of the major killers before the war and during the war. And interesting, Charlie, an awful lot of the killings seemed to be a kind of killing for hire, they will find some young person who is unemployed and say, I’ll give you five hundred dollars if you take a shot at an American or maybe I’ll give you more if you kill one. Well that’s turning out not to be such a great business, and the deaths of Uday and Qusay a week ago, two weeks ago was a major step forward. It helps to remove this blanket of fear. That was another impression I came away with, which is that as grateful as they are to be liberated, they really don’t believe that the job is finished and I think they’re in that respect right. This regime terrorized Iraqis so much for so long we can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a society like that. And they’re not completely certain it won’t come back and they’re not completely certain that we will stay until the job is done. I think again the success we’ve had in recent weeks in going after mid-level Ba’athist has inspired a lot of people to be more confident, to come forward with information and that’s the key to winning.

Rose: That’s interesting because there was story I read that you got little information from the so-called top leadership. They weren’t giving much information and when you turned to the mid-level people they had a lot more information and were more willing to give it?

Wolfowitz: That seems to be the pattern. When you talk to the people who are doing the questioning, they say it’s a lot like a gangland investigation here -- the top guys don’t talk but you can get the people in the mid-level to start giving you information and eventually you kind of squeeze your way up.

The other source of information frankly is I think you go into a neighborhood and if people are convinced you’re going to do something about it, they will turn these people in. The Washington Post about two weeks ago had this really tragic story at some length about a woman who had been tortured horribly, raped, held in a little compound behind the police academy. Her husband was actually murdered and as they put in the Post, they handed his body over to her like a piece of meat -- all because they had gotten married without the permission that was required because he was a foreigner. That woman’s story though, coming forward, has allowed us to go after people in the police force who shouldn’t be there. I think it’s given other victims like her confidence that if they do come forward with their story something will be done about it. It’s a new experience for Iraqis.

Rose: There no more important objective in American foreign policy today than to win the peace in Iraq.

Wolfowitz: That’s right.

Rose: Because it says everything to the region and if you want to stabilize the region, and because you believe it is the centerpiece of the global fight against terrorism, why is Iraq the centerpiece?

Wolfowitz: Well you know John Abizaid, who is the new Commander of Central Command who’s a remarkable General, I mean he’s a terrific soldier.

Rose: Speaks Arabic.

Wolfowitz: Speaks Arabic, knows the region. I actually first met him up in northern Iraq in 1991 when he was commanding a battalion in part what we call Operation Provide Comfort. He said, I think this a paraphrase, the heart of the terrorism problem is in the Middle East and the heart of the Middle East is Iraq and what happens in Iraq is going to determine in a crucial way which way the Middle East goes.

Rose: Why is the Iraq the heart of the Middle East?

Wolfowitz: It’s one of the most important countries in the Arab world. It’s one of the most educated populations in the Arab world and I think – now I’m going to give my interpretation: It is the place right now where there is a real struggle between the terrorist – Ba’athist terrorists aligned with foreign terrorists and those people who really want to build a free and democratic Iraq. It is the turning point, I think, in terms of what an Arab country can become, and it is very important for the security of the United States for the Arab world to see that there is a free and democratic future for Arabs.

Rose: As you know Ba’athist terrorist is one thing and al-Qaeda terrorist is another and some people make the point that this was not a stronghold for al-Qaeda and the terrorists who were responsible for 9/11. And while they may have had friends there and maybe have had bin-Laden there and may have made some connection that people are not sure about, it is not the pace center of terrorism from that standpoint?

Wolfowitz: Look that sort of assumes that what you need to have is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that they were directly connected to 9/11. But I think the lesson of 9/11 was it was about more than 9/11. It was about this whole insidious network of terrorists that work with one another and unfortunately get support from a number of governments. There’s no question that that regime harbored terrorists, including Abu Abbas whom we captured, Abu Nidal whom they killed. There’s no question this regime was offering twenty five thousand dollars for suicide bombers in Israel. There’s also no question that they were harboring al-Qaeda people, this fellow Zarquawi whom Secretary Powell spoke of in the U.N. who was crucial in the assassination of our diplomat in Jordan, Mr. Foley, and who was part of this network that was plotting to plant ricin or some other kind of poison in the subway in London and elsewhere in Europe. How close those ties were we still don’t know. We’re still digging into that but it was there and what is also important, I think that in some ways the past, that it’s no longer a sanctuary. But what is important right now is that foreign terrorist groups, including one particularly evil one called Ansar Al-Islam which is aligned with al-Qaeda or aligned with the Ba’athists in a common objective. And that common objective is they believe if they can just kill enough Americans, they think they can repeat the history of Beirut and Mogadishu -- that we will go home and they will be able to restore this evil regime with all that it means. Well, they’re not going to succeed. We’re winning this but they see it as a struggle for the future of Iraq; it is.

Rose: What will it cost? And I mean by this in terms of troops, in terms of resources, in terms of money and what’s necessary if it’s that crucial in the war against terrorism to win? How do you measure victory and what will it cost to get victory?

Wolfowitz: Well we’re spending four billion dollars a month right now on our troops; that’s not a small amount of money. How long we’ll have to keep doing that depends on the progress in the war and that’s something you just can’t predict. There’s a lot of work to be done not just to restore the infrastructure of Iraq. There was actually relatively little war damage but to rehabilitate it from these 35-years of abuse. I would say two things, maybe three. I mean it probably will be expensive, but number one, there are a lot of resources that Iraq will eventually be able to apply to its own rehabilitation. Not right now – I mean right now they’re going to need help and certainly the –

Rose: And oil resources will not cover it?

Wolfowitz: No. But in the long run this is a country that’s rich in natural resources and even more importantly, rich in human resources. And I think the lesson of modern economics is that it’s the people that really make economies. It’s a very, very talented, educated population.

The second point, though, is this is part of making the world safer for us. And we’re here in New York. I mean people here don’t need any reminders of what terrorism can cost us even when it’s just some commercial airplanes as a weapon. And if we don’t succeed in this struggle to essentially do to terrorism what was done in earlier centuries with slavery and piracy -- to make it essentially a outlaw activity, one that countries don’t support and don’t have these networks, then the dangers facing us are enormous. So the stakes are large and I think this country is up to it and I think the American people understand how large the stakes are.

Rose: Is there a window of opportunity here? Where if we don’t make significant strides in a month or in six months, we don’t have Iraqis in principal positions? We will be losing ground to those who are in opposition to us?

Wolfowitz: There is a window of opportunity and the faster we can move on certain things, the better it is. You want to retain that sense of gratitude, you want to retain the support of the population and the longer people go without electricity, the longer they go without jobs, the greater the danger is that they might as – I think it would take a lot though -- to think that maybe it’s better to have Saddam back with all of his cruelties. I think that regime was so terrible, the willingness for some patience is not inconsiderable, but time is not something you want to squander here. It’s much better to, I think, move quickly and on things like electricity -- to try to fix that electricity system as fast as you can so people go back to work, so that young people are not unemployed. There’s an urgency to this, yes.

Rose: The Administration does not want to go the UN and get a new resolution does it?

Wolfowitz: Well first of all we have a UN resolution – I mean sometimes even I get into this discussion as though there’s a very good resolution now.

Rose: Or amended or add to it?

Wolfowitz: We want all the help that we can get militarily, economically and there are some countries who’ve at least said they will be able to do more if there was another resolution and we’re certainly open to looking at that possibility. But what we don’t want to have is a resolution that instead of bringing us help brings a lot of slowness in this process. We were just talking a few minutes ago about the need for urgency, the need for speed. I was struck by the way both military and civilians, Americans as well as British as well as some other coalition partners who had experience in Kosovo and Bosnia -- almost everyone I heard said we are way ahead of where we were in those places at a comparable time. In fact, General Sanchez who was in Kosovo the whole first year gave me a list of ten things that had already been accomplished in Iraq that weren’t accomplished in Kosovo after 12 months. I think it’s, in part, because we have set up very consciously a pretty stream-lined chain of command, enormous authority given to Ambassador Bremer as the President’s representative. We’ve got town councils stood up all over the country.

Rose: I hear you saying any UN resolution – new or amended resolution that reduces American control or coalition control or limits the actions of Ambassador Bremer is not something that you would favor?

Wolfowitz: I think that’s a fair statement.

Rose: And that’s the price of getting UN support are countries to come in under a UN mandate then it’s not worth paying?

Wolfowitz: Well look we have over 20 countries that are coming in already.

Rose: But you’d need more because if you had more then you could bring some of the American troops home and I know you want to do that?

Wolfowitz: Well we’d like to – I mean we’re getting over 20,000 -- I think close to 30,000 -- coalition troops already coming in. I met the Commander of the Polish Brigade that’s going to take over one of these main cities. We’re going to have an Italian Brigade taking another whole province, a Dutch Brigade taking a whole province, there’s a lot that’s moving forward. And look, there are some countries that are not going to come in until we’ve taken care of the Ba’athists. They don’t want to send their troops into a combat zone. So they may say they want a UN resolution but that’s not the only obstacle. We’d like a UN resolution if it’s helpful, it shouldn’t be just people trying to interfere with what I think has been actually a pretty smooth and rapid movement forward.

Rose: What’s your judgment about weapons of mass destruction and what happened?

Wolfowitz: Oh I think we’re going to find them. David Kay who’s been put in charge of the search is absolutely confident we’ll find them. I’ve seen a lot of intelligence estimates over the years, I’ve seen very few that were as unanimous as this one -- that they had chemical weapons, they had biological weapons, and they were working on nuclear weapons.

Rose: You think you will find them because he hid them somewhere and you have not yet been – because he may have been a master in camouflage and covering up? You will find them somewhere?

Wolfowitz: He had 12 years to deliberately hide and conceal and you know you fly over Baghdad – a couple of impressions, one is how much electricity there is and how many cars are driving around the streets at night. But the other, this is a city the size of Los Angeles and you look at those houses and you say any one of those houses could have a lethal quantity of anthrax in the basement. You’re not going to find that with house-to-house searches you’re only going to find that when people start to talk about what they did.

Rose: But we’ve been there long enough and talked to enough people you would think that there would be some indication so far?

Wolfowitz: Well there are some indications - let me say also we just found some leaflets circulating in Baghdad about – well I don’t know when we found them, David Kay told me about them about a week ago, threatening people with death if they give us information about weapons of mass destruction. Well when there are threats like that out there, people are going to probably, if they know something, be a little bit careful. So it will take time and we want to be careful not to jump forward with somebody’s testimony if we can’t corroborate it in other ways. But as I say, I’ve rarely seen an intelligent judgment that was as unanimous as that one.

Rose: Even today?

Wolfowitz: Even today.

Rose: And not withstanding the fact that Iraqi scientists, according to what I read are saying that there were no weapons of mass destruction?

Wolfowitz: Well they may be lying. They may have been deliberately dismissed in order to continue the program another way. You know even we’re able to hide things, I don’t know how many years we hid the whole fact of stealth technology until we unveiled it and we don’t do it with torture and threats of death, we just do it by keeping the number of people who actually know the truth extremely small. If you think about the stakes for this regime and 12 years to do it and Charlie, if they didn’t have weapons of mass destruction why on earth did they go for 12 years with those sanctions giving up over a hundred billion dollars over that period of time? You think of the palaces he could have built with that?

Rose: Obviously, so what do those Iraqis who you have in custody say to that very question? If he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction as you say, why would he give up a hundred billion dollars in revenue?

Wolfowitz: Well I’m not interrogating them so I don’t know what they say. I know what other Iraqis say is, why are you Americans so obsessed about weapons of mass destruction? These graves that you’re digging, Saddam Hussein was a weapon of mass destruction. The damage that he did to our country was a weapon of mass destruction.

Rose: As you know the reason that they’re obsessive is because it was used as a reason for urgency with respect to the war?

Wolfowitz: Let’s not jump to conclusions, I mean we will get to the bottom of what went on, but it’ll take some time.

Rose: What do these people like Tariq Aziz tell you? I mean I’m fascinated by what they’re saying? Are they saying we just followed orders, we were fearful our life, we had to do what he did or he would have killed us? Or are they saying we believed Saddam gave us a good life, we among the privileged class and so we served an evil dictator?

Wolfowitz: I think at the top level for the most part they just don’t say anything or they seem to be lying. And I asked one of our people in fact, well, can’t you threaten them, can’t you do a plea bargain with them and they made a very interesting comment. And I’m surprised I didn’t see it before I asked the question.

Rose: This is what I wanted to know.

Wolfowitz: He said the whole concept of plea-bargaining in the old regime did not exist. If you told the truth you simply got executed sooner and with less torture. And I repeat, the threat of retribution from the Ba’athists is around and the more we can remove that threat the more we can remove this blanket of fear, I think the more we’ll get to the truth about everything including weapons of mass destruction.

Rose: Do you believe that it is necessary to have more and more Iraqis in the police and in the effort? That once you have the Iraqis as the public perception of police and military you will get more Ba’athists under control?

Wolfowitz: Well absolutely and it’s in Mosul where they’ve turned in Uday and Qusay. They were already training an Iraqi I think they call it Self Defense Force. It’s an interesting mixture of some Kurdish fighters, some what we used to call the Free Iraqi Forces, and some people rehabilitated from the old Army. In the city of Kirkuk, the whole police function is now taken over by Iraqi police. So we’re making progress. It is the most important thing -- even more important than getting Indian troops or other foreign troops in this to get Iraqi troops. There are a lot of Iraqis who would be very happy to risk their lives guarding places, fighting Ba’athists. It shouldn’t just be Americans, it doesn’t have to be just Americans.

Rose: You were saying that the majority of Iraqis that you run across and that you know believe that the overthrow of Saddam couldn’t have come quicker. They are thrilled that the Americans did it and that they want to get on with self government and they’d like to see us leave as long as what?

Wolfowitz: Well they don’t want us–it’s very interesting. There are polls and the polls show pretty consistently, they want to be sure that we will eventually leave, but they want to be sure we don’t leave too soon.

Rose: Because leaving too soon would mean what?

Wolfowitz: Mean the return of this horrible regime, which they have known to have enormous staying power and to have come back from defeat in the Iran/Iraq war and defeat in the Kuwait war and those two in particular. So I think what they would really like to see, and they are starting to see it more and more, is us receding into the background -- the standing up of the governing council in July, it’s the interim governing council. We’re going to have to get a constitution, have elections. I think that was a very important step for them to be convinced that eventually they will, and hopefully sooner rather than later, they’ll be running their own affairs.

Rose: Are you getting more and more people stepping forward to offer some kind of information about Saddam himself?

Wolfowitz: We get a lot of people who say they know something and I guess we won’t know until we actually get him which of that information was reliable. In fact after the two sons were killed there began to be a flood of information. It was a little bit hard to digest it at first, but yes we’re getting more cooperation.

Rose: And you think that’s a matter of months before he’s?

Wolfowitz: You know Secretary Rumsfeld was asked the other day are you getting closer, and he said there’s just no way to know how close you are until you actually get him.

Rose: Is there any sense though you’ve missed him by hours? There was a story once?

Wolfowitz: Not that I know of. I’d like to think we got that close but not that I know of.

Rose: Let me talk about one issue about urgency. What – many people say that this was a war of choice and not a war that was necessary at this time. So the question is, what did we gain by going when we did and what would we have lost by going later?

Wolfowitz: Okay, but let me answer that. But also let me also point out that in many ways this was a war that never ended. This was a continuation of a war that was supposed to have ended in 1991 with UN Resolution 687, that declared the terms of ceasefire. And Saddam violated those terms over and over and over again.

Rose: The war certainly ended too early for you specifically?

Wolfowitz: I think we probably let our – let the pressure up at just the moment when it might have made a difference. But I think – I mean one of the important considerations to me is that we had put together an enormous effort to get a minimal and grudging compliance with the UN resolution and it wasn’t even compliance. I mean they were frustrating inspectors. They were making lying declarations. We not only had tens of thousands of troops mobilized to get that effort going, but enormous pressure on countries in the region who were supporting us. Many of them supporting us quietly and tactfully, the notion that you could have just continued for months and months or another 12 years with that kind of pressure is nonsense. Just think about the fact that shortly after the fall of Baghdad there was that awful bombing in Riyadh, which sort of shook the Saudi regime.

Rose: Change your attitude about terror?

Wolfowitz: It changed the attitude about terrorism but you know it happened after we were – we had finished the job in Iraq -- or the major job -- and we no longer needed the base forces in Saudi Arabia. So they were able to deal with their terrorism problem free of that burden. If it had come in the middle of a build up of a war against Iraq and they’d told us we’re sorry but the terrorists are a bigger problem for us in Iraq and would you please leave. I mean it would have been a very, very big blow. So we had assembled quite a coalition in spite of some of the things that are said, and in my view it was much more important to keep those countries of the region that were critical to our success in the coalition, than continuing, hoping that maybe, maybe, maybe if we waited long enough France would join us.

Rose: Plus we had – because the French were talking about 5 more months, letting inspection do it’s part and all that.

Wolfowitz: This time it was 5 more months. I mean it’s been 12 years of 5 more months.

Rose: So you worried specifically that if we waited we might lose some of the momentum to go to war?

Wolfowitz: Some of the ability to win, yes.

Rose: The ability to win?

Wolfowitz: And you know it looks easy in hindsight. There were a lot of dangers that were prevented by the fact that we had what we needed when we needed it.

Rose: And nothing would have been gained by delay in your judgment? Nothing?

Wolfowitz: I can’t see what would have been gained and you know a lot of – let’s remember what that UN resolution was supposed to do. It was supposed to be the last and final chance for Saddam to comply with what he was supposed to have done 12 years before, and he was supposed to give a full and complete declaration of what he had, which everyone agrees he didn’t do and he was supposed to comply fully with the UN inspectors, which everyone agreed he didn’t do. Now some people say, okay, but you know the UN inspectors were making progress. They were finding things he hadn’t declared. They were finding things he had hidden. They were destroying them -- if you’d only given him more time. Look how hard it is with all that we have in Iraq today to find what’s there, and you think 200 UN inspectors working for another 12 years wouldn’t have done the same?

Rose: So we wouldn’t have found them even if we had 5 more months in your judgment? Since we haven’t found them this far?

Wolfowitz: That’s right. Since it’s been this difficult, I think it tells you how much more (inaudible). Everyone is convinced they’re there. Joe Wilson is convinced they’re there.

Rose: The idea of the future. What lessons does Iraq hold for the United States in terms of how it views its mission in the world?

Wolfowitz: It’s central and there’s a certain simple-minded view that democracy is the solution for all the world’s problems, that all countries can be democratic and that it’s easy to make fun of that. But I still think at its core it is essentially a sound principal. That we do, we are comfortable in a world where people can determine their own form of government freely. That when people have that chance they tend to go in the direction that we’ve seen in Europe, we’ve seen in East Asia -- that they like to go about their business, they like to take care of their families, they don’t like waging imperial wars of the kind that Saddam Hussein continued to wage and that we will be much better off and this problem of terrorism can be licked if the Muslim world begins to join that trend of history.

Rose: And Iraq will make that – will more likely make that happen?

Wolfowitz: I think it’s not going to guarantee anything, but I think it’s a major step in that direction.

Rose: As you know other people will make this argument. It is created on anti-Americanism around the world and that it’s made it more difficult for some states, some nation states would like to be on our side to join with us in the fight against terrorism. And made in some cases cooperation more difficult than easy?

Wolfowitz: Look anti-Americanism is a problem that didn’t start with Iraq.

Rose: But has Iraq increased it? I realize it didn’t start but that’s the argument many make that it ended terrorism than helps it?


Wolfowitz: It certainly hasn’t in Iraq. There are 20 million Iraqis most of whom are grateful for what we’ve done. And I believe if you think forward a few years, and we succeed in Iraq, we’re going to have 20 million witnesses to what we accomplished. I’m sure there was a lot of anti-Americanism in Germany and in Japan, I don’t want to make, compare those -- those are very different situations, but you can’t measure these things by the moment, but Germans and Japanese, their success is very much attributable to what the United States accomplished.

As far as the argument about cooperation, I mean I see evidence day after day of countries who may disagree with us on Iraq or on other matters of policy but do not by any means refuse to cooperate with us against terrorism. The fight against terrorism is a very fundamental fight. I think there’s some 90 countries that you can count in that coalition and they’ve stuck with us. Our cooperation with Pakistan is ever so strong as before.

Rose: You were saying that anybody that argues that this is – has been an impediment in the war against terrorism quite the contrary, it has helped us in the war against terrorism?

Wolfowitz: I believe it really has, yes.

Rose: And it will help in the future more so because you will create out of Iraq not withstanding the battles now, not withstanding the fights, notwithstanding some sake of slogan, although others will step forward to say it’s much faster than we appreciate, it will in fact. If it works out in Iraq it will be the strongest argument against terrorism that can be made?

Wolfowitz: I think it would be powerful– if it works out in Iraq I believe it will be a powerful argument in the Muslim world that there is a much better way than the terrorist way, and that Americans really did do something for themselves but in the process did something for an Arab people. And that Arab people are capable of building a country that’s a model for their world.

Rose: We have certainly done things before for Muslim people and I’m thinking of Bosnia and Kosovo and places like that.

Wolfowitz: And probably didn’t get enough credit for it but yes, we have. I mean in fact we went to war in Kosovo, and we brought in peacekeepers in Bosnia. We’ve sent in troops into Somalia, rescued Kuwait. Every one of those countries are majority Muslim population, but this is something a little bit different. This is really – this is the heart of the Arab world, the heart of the Muslim – I shouldn’t say the heart. It is a centerpiece for that world and success in Iraq is going to make a very big difference.

Rose: Is that the reason that before 9/11 you have felt so strongly, some say – I’m looking for a better word, some say obsessive about Iraq?

You were there before 9/11, you were there in 98’ and in the letters you write, you were there in 91’.

Wolfowitz: I wasn’t alone. I mean we had great majorities in both houses of Congress saying, and for that matter the Clinton Administration, saying that the liberation of Iraq should be a goal of American policy. What’s changed with September 11th for me and I think for this country, was before September 11th it seemed to me a cause definitely worth contributing to -- that we should be supporting the Iraqi people and the Iraqi opposition to try to overthrow that regime. But I would have not said we should send 150,000 American troops and go into Baghdad and risk American lives on that scale.

Rose: 9/11 changed it for you.

Wolfowitz: Because it brought home the fact that regimes like that, and that regime in particular, are a danger to our country and that they can cause tragedies that would make September 11th look small in comparison.

Rose: You going to win - in Iraq, the peace?

Wolfowitz: The United States is going to win in Iraq, the coalition is going to win and the Iraqi people are going to win.

Rose: What ought to be the great debate in American foreign policy now?

Wolfowitz: Now there’s a good question.

I really think the great debate right now should center on what I think we should have learned from September 11th and we seemed to have forgotten awfully quickly. It wasn’t just about one terrorist group or one man named bin-Laden. It was really about the reality of this danger that we talked about for years and even those of us who talked about it, I think, never quite believed it would really happen. That modern technology in the hands of terrorist groups could produce tragedies of just unbelievable proportions. And if that’s the case we’ve got to think about dealing with that problem root and branch. And there are two fronts in that battle: one is rooting out terrorists, dismantling the networks, but the other is to encourage moderate progressive tolerant forces in the Muslim world.

I have to confess that that’s something that’s been a matter of interest to me for a long time. I was in Indonesia for 3 years. It was inspiring actually to be in a country, the largest Muslim population in the world, where tolerance really seemed to be the watch word of most Muslims. And I think with the price of intolerance, the danger of the evil that’s represented by Osama bin-Laden didn’t really come home until September 11th. I think we need to figure out how to address that together and recognize that its going to take some time.

Rose: Thank you for coming.

Wolfowitz: Good to be here. Thank you.

Rose: Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, we’ll be right back, stay with us.

 

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