(Interview with Indonesian and Australian Journalists)
Wolfowitz: When I was Ambassador to Indonesia which was a long time ago a lot of Indonesians complained why don't you Americans pay more attention to Indonesia and my standard response was well look at the countries we do pay attention to -- Lebanon, El Salvador. You should be glad. [Laughter]
Well the whole world is noticing Indonesia now and unfortunately it's the reason that I was glad they didn't notice Indonesia a long time ago. They're noticing Indonesia because of the troubles and the tragedy that took place in Bali. I want our Australian friends to know we understand, at least in my mind that was as big a thing for Australia as the World Trade Center was for us. It's terrible.
But as much as Australia was a target in that attack I think in many ways Indonesia was a target of that attack in two major respects. Indonesia as an enormously important and tolerant Muslim community that the terrorists would like to turn to their image; and secondly Indonesia as a still-struggling but nonetheless definitely democratic country which is not only an anathema to the terrorists but it's also I think potentially important in the rest of Asia.
Let me just elaborate on those two points and then I'll get into questions.
On the first point about Indonesia's tolerance and its importance. It's not a secret that when I was Ambassador I fell in love with that country. I like to think that it wasn't just the classic case of Ambassadors that stay too long and they forget which country they're representing. I was always aware I was the American Ambassador and I was there because of American interests. But one of the things that was so engaging about Indonesia to me as an American was the religious tolerance in this country that has the largest Muslim population in the world.
I remember reading a book by a very distinguished professor from McGill about Islam in the modern world. He had chapters on just about every Muslim community except Indonesia. He had a whole two pages apologizing for his inability to know enough to write about the Indonesian Muslim community because he said not only is it the largest but it is potentially important because of its tradition of equality for women, and he used the word liberal traditions. I think Indonesians might dispute exactly the choice of words. I would say tolerance is the keynote.
It was symbolized again for me when the first democratically elected President of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid, head of a 40 million or so member Muslim community on almost the second or third day in office was saying prayers in a Hindu ashram.
I think Indonesia is important to the rest of us because I think -- I thought before September 11th, I thought 15 years ago when I was Ambassador, that religious tolerance is critical to modern progress. And after September 11th I would hope that it's obvious to the whole world how important religious tolerance is and therefore how important it is for the rest of us that this tolerant Muslim majority society succeed and succeed on its traditional tolerant basis.
The second point is democracy which I will freely admit there wasn't much of when I was Ambassador to Indonesia. Not because that's what we the United States wanted, but that's the way things were.
For me it's been an incredible and inspirational development over the last four years to see the Indonesian press become completely free; to see Indonesia hold free and fair elections, to see Indonesian people manage to conduct a campaign with I think, was it 43 or 46 different parties on the ballot and actually come out with a reasonably coherent result and one that was fair and respected by everybody.
I thought these were just wonderful events and all the more remarkable since they were managing to do this in the face of an economic tidal wave that overwhelmed the country at the same time.
I think it's very important for the rest of us, and I guess I mean particularly other democracies like the United States and Australia, for that Indonesian democracy to succeed, and it clearly is the goal of the terrorists to prevent that from happening. This attack in Bali was not only a horrible human tragedy, so many young lives snuffed out, but I think the damage it's done already to the Indonesian economy must be incalculable. I guess you can calculate economics but it's large. And it can get worse if something isn't done to deal with the problem.
The only good thing I see coming out of it is that it seems to me it has led to, just as September 11th was a wakeup call for the United States, I think Bali was a wakeup call for Indonesia. And I think it's clear that Indonesians now understand this is not something that we've made up or that we've invented. It's not something that only targets Americans and Australians. And thankfully it seems to me that the Indonesian police and Indonesian authorities have been going after these bombers in a very professional way, by the way. The amount of forensic sophistication that was involved in getting the serial number off of that damaged vehicle and tracing it through multiple transfers of ownership to get Mr. Amrozi, and now I think they've gone from him to capturing Samudra. I don't know the details, I know about what I read in the press to be honest. But it's an impressive story.
My experience with Indonesians is Americans get impatient because things move at a different pace in Indonesia, but when Indonesia gets serious about something they're extraordinarily effective and I believe that they're now serious about this problem of terrorism and so that makes me more hopeful that together we'll move forward.
Sorry. I'm here to answer questions. But that's my opening speech.
Q: This morning Indonesian police have arrested Imam Samudra alias Gudama, the mastermind of Bali bombing. Do you have any information about that? Because Gudama, it is said that he is a member of Jemaah Islamiyah and linked to al Qaeda. Do you have any information?
Wolfowitz: Basically I know exactly what you repeated. We hear the same thing from our own officials as we hear from the press, and I suspect that the source of all that information is the Indonesian police. That seems to be the conclusion that they are -- I should be careful.
In our country we're very careful about pronouncing people's guilt or innocence when we're not sure, and I don't want to sit here outside and pronounce on a case that's in Indonesia. But it's certainly, what is clear to me is that there has been a very vigorous pursuit by the Indonesian police of the people they think are responsible and there have been some very important arrests made. I assume there will now be appropriate legal procedures.
Q: How is the U.S. contribution for the multinational team for the Bali investigation?
Wolfowitz: I know that we've made a certain amount of technical expertise available to the Indonesian police, but the impression I have is that they've done most of the detective work on their own and they've done a very good job of it.
Q: I was going to ask you, there's a pressing new development today, which was a suicide bombing in Israel. Tony Blair in response has said that it's an urgent priority to bring new energy to bear on the peace process in the Middle East. I've seen Brent Scowcroft in this morning's Washington Post said that it was an urgent priority but said that new diplomatic energy on this problem would assuage anti-Americanism, reduce the security threat to Americans generally, plus help support international opinion for disarming Saddam Hussein.
Do you agree that this should be an extremely urgent, perhaps top priority for the U.S.? And secondly do you agree with in particular the Scowcroft suggestion that U.S. and European troops could be used as part of a new effort in finding peace?
Wolfowitz: I'm not going to get into how to solve this problem. We have a lot of very good people at the State Department working very hard on it. It does seem to me that what the President laid out in June very clearly is that in order to make progress on the peace process it is essential to have a viable interlocutor on the Palestinian side and that means a leadership that is capable of making agreements and keeping agreements and controlling terrorists, and we don't have that at the moment.
While that horrible bombing like so many others underscores the value of peace, it makes it more difficult, and that's of course part of the purpose of terrorists is to make peace more difficult.
But the key to the whole process is to be able to offer Israel security in return for the kinds of concessions that are necessary for peace.
It was 25 years ago yesterday that Anwar Sadat went to Jerusalem, 25 years to the day. I remember that event almost as though -- well, it was 25 year ago I can't quite, but it's very very vivid in my mind. I remember a kind of tingle going down my spine of what an incredible thing it was that here was the leader of the most important country in the Arab world speaking in the Israeli Parliament, talking respectfully about Israel. It had never happened before. I think most Israelis thought it would never happen in their lifetime.
And when it happened it opened up an entirely new vista. People like Menachem Begin who was then the Prime Minister, who were thought to be hard-line bitter [enders] ended up giving up the entire Sinai, and Ariel Sharon ended up demolishing the last Israeli settlement in the Sinai in '81 I think or '82. When there is a real offer of peace from the Arab side, the hunger for peace in Israel is palpable. I think there's no question from the point of view of American interest, the continuing images on television of Palestinians suffering and Palestinians being killed is very very damaging to us, and anything we can do to reduce the violence and to achieve a peace agreement we will try to do. But we need really a committed leadership on the Palestinian side. There needs to be a controlling end to terrorism.
Q: Is there not an admission of U.S. impotence in the face of, as long as Arafat is in place?
Wolfowitz: I think there are a lot of things that can be done. I think we're working on a lot of things. But I guess I reject the notion that when other people can't solve their problems it's proof of American impotence.
We are there to engage and to help people when they're serious. There are obviously limits on how much we can force people to address their own problems, but I think our long-term, maybe our short-term. Our commitment to a peace settlement along the lines that the President made very clear in June of the two states living peacefully side by side is very clear and our willingness to consider anything reasonable to achieve that goal is clear.
Q: Would a disarming of --
Wolfowitz: If this is -- One last question on the subject, but this is State Department business. You're drawing me way out of my lane. I don't want to go very far in that direction.
Q: It's a question really about the Middle East and Iraq, but if Saddam Hussein is disarmed, how does that change the dynamics for Middle East peace?
Wolfowitz: Yogi Berra, one of my favorite Yankee baseball players, once said "It's dangerous to make predictions, especially about the future." But I think if you look at the past, the big breakthroughs toward peace in the Middle East, the first was Sadat. That came after the expulsion of the Soviets from [inaudible], a big reduction of Soviet power and influence. The next two were the Madrid Conference and the Oslo Agreement and those came after the defeat of Saddam Hussein and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
I think the fewer troublemakers around or the weaker the troublemakers, the better the chances are for peace. So I think the general effect will be positive but it's not going to be nirvana.
Q: There was a report yesterday I think the State Department had sent out from cables to about 50 of its embassies [inaudible], alerting their embassies to talk to the countries about possible involvement in some future action in Iraq.
I was reading this book of Bob Woodward's, I don't know how accurate all of it is but I'm interested in one section which relates to Australia which was a question about what are you doing about the Australians who had Special Forces in Tampa? The question was put to Mr. Rumsfeld who said, "We'll prepare a paper on this." Colin Powell is said to have smiled as though Mr. Rumsfeld was stalling. Then Mr. Rumsfeld said to him, "We want to include them if we can."
I guess my question is, how much do you really want the countries like Australia involved in your military actions? Is it just political cover? Or is in fact what Australia brings in the way of Special Forces or other force is that actually useful and would that be useful in Iraq?
Wolfowitz: Not to suck up to you but there aren't many countries like Australia. The Australian question is very easy to answer. Australians bring incredible military capability and professionalism and we have -- It's small, from the point of view we have ten times as much, but what Australia has offered us is top of the line military personnel, military competence. Your Special Forces are as good as any in the world. And when you're in a difficult war, and this is a difficult war, the more high quality help you can get the better.
Your question sort of alludes to the possibility sometimes even lower quality help is helpful because it contributes in a more general way to your capability.
We had some 90 countries participating in one way or another in this war on terrorism. The numbers vary. I think that's partly because some of them obviously don't want to admit that they're cooperating. That's fine. We'll take it whatever form it comes in. But there is no question that both militarily and politically, that from our point of view coalitions are better than going it alone, even though there are some imperfections in that. But the price -- It's more than worth the price from both a military and political point of view.
Q: Just to follow up, the Australians have announced in the last few days that they're withdrawing their SS forces from Afghanistan. Would they be useful to you if -- Is that the sort of capability you would find useful in any action in Iraq?
Wolfowitz: Almost anywhere including Iraq. Those sort of elite military units are called elite for a reason. They're very very good. They're generally scarce. When we look at increasing our own Special Forces capabilities we recognize that you can't just take any average person and turn them into a capable Special Forces person. So it's a capability we have benefited from enormously in Afghanistan. We're quite comfortable with the idea of letting them go home for a rest because they might be needed again in the future.
Q: [inaudible] about the resumption of [inaudible]. Some people say that the appointment of Ted Stevens, the Senator from Alaska to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee makes it easier for Americans to [inaudible]. What do you [inaudible]?
Wolfowitz: This isn't really about politics here. I mean Senator Stevens is a -- He will be replacing Senator Inouye of Hawaii. They are remarkably -- one's from Hawaii, one's from Alaska. They both have this very strong sense of America's role in the Pacific. Alaska is actually halfway across the Pacific if you go out to the end. They've spent a lot of time over many years in East Asia. They're both World War II veterans. Senator Stevens actually flew in China during World War II. For that reason, both of them have an appreciation of Indonesia that is much much more sophisticated than most Members of Congress and that is very helpful. I've over many years found that when I've had an issue about East Asia, particularly about Indonesia, if I went to either one of them they understood the problem without my having to explain it, to talk about how to deal with it.
So I don't want you to think that there's suddenly some change in the [inaudible], changes our policy. Our basic goal in dealing with the Indonesian military is to try to improve --
We'd like to build a closer relation with the Indonesian military for a number of reasons. I would say in the first place because I think for democratic reform to succeed in Indonesia there has to be a reform of the Indonesian military. You can't scrap it. You've got to improve it from where it is. We've had a policy largely over the last ten years of isolating the Indonesian military and I don't think it's had good effect. I think it's tended to push that institution in exactly the direction that we don't want to see it go.
I am very sympathetic to the human rights concerns that people have about past abuses. I'd like to see those ended. I think that requires not isolating the Indonesian military but bringing it into more contact with democratic militaries like ours, educating the officers who want to be educated, getting them to learn more about how the military functions in a democratic society like ours.
So I view the principal goal of closer military-to-military ties is to encourage the reform of the Indonesian military in a direction that will support democracy in Indonesia. It's not for purely military purposes from our point of view. It's really part of that second goal I referred to earlier of trying to support the [inaudible] development of democracy in Indonesia.
I know that's sometimes hard for people to understand because I know a lot of real democrats in Indonesia over many years of abuses of various kinds start to think of the military as an enemy of democracy, I guess. I don't want to get into that debate. I understand why they feel that way. I do not believe, however, that the U.S. relationship with the Indonesian military is bad for democracy.
Let me just give you the example, you probably know of Yunus Yusah who was the Minister of Information who removed all the restraints on the [inaudible] the press, and he even wanted, if he had been able to, would have abolished the whole Ministry of Information but too many people would lose their job. He developed his understanding of what a free press can do to build a strong society by going to the Army Command and Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. It's an amazing story.
I'm not saying that every military officer that comes through training in the United States turns into a great democrat, but I would argue that by and large the ones that have been trained here have a much more modern outlook, a much more democratic outlook, and they'll be much more supportive of what Indonesia needs to have in terms of democracy. I don't think isolating the Indonesian military is good for democracy.
Q: Could you elaborate for us the aftermath of the Bali bombing, how would the U.S. be more helpful in terms of maybe giving aid or for anti-terrorism police force? Back then when Secretary Colin Powell went to Indonesia he [inaudible] aid mostly to help the police on the terrorism force. So how far does it go already?
Wolfowitz: We're in the early stages of implementing that. There's an expression that is known around this great big building that you're sitting in, the Pentagon, that throwing money at problems -- We're sometimes accused of throwing money at problems. There's only so far you can go so fast. I think the amount of money that Secretary Powell spoke about when he was in Jakarta is more than enough to get us through a reasonable program over the next 12 months if it's used well, in fact probably longer than 12 months. So it's not a situation where more money will make us go faster.
I think what is really needed is will and commitment on the part of the Indonesian authorities and I do think that from everything I can observe from 12,000 miles away, I think as I said that one of the only good things to come out of the tragedy in Bali is I think that will and determination to take the problem seriously is there now and I think there is more understanding from the general population about the need to do so.
Q: I hate to go into technicals, but --
Wolfowitz: Give it a try. [Laughter]
Q: When will, will it already be disbursed, the disbursement to help the [inaudible]? Has it already started or is it waiting for the next fiscal year?
Wolfowitz: I know a couple of pieces that have already started, some small training programs that we're responsible for. There are others that go in other channels. I can't give you a precise -- But it is already underway. It's not something that we're kind of waiting to move out on.
Voice: The State Department does control the police funding issues. That's a better question to ask the Department of State.
Q: If I can just stay on Indonesia for awhile. In going back and looking at the Bali bombing, I think it's fair to say that Australians were pretty shocked about what happened and had in fact little preparation or idea for what was going to happen despite September 11 in America.
There's a debate now amongst some of the intelligence services and certainly the regional intelligence services that Australia had sat more on the optimistic side on understanding the al Qaeda penetration in Southeast Asia and that the United States along with other countries like the Philippines and Singapore sat on the more pessimistic side as to how far al Qaeda had penetrated Southeast Asia.
I wonder what your views are on that and also your understanding of how great the penetration of Southeast Asia was of al Qaeda and whether you still think it's a very serious problem there.
Wolfowitz: I can honestly say I'm not aware of these international differences that you alluded to. I suppose if I were aware of them I couldn't say so. [Laughter] Honestly, it hasn't come to me that way.
What I am aware of is a general increased understanding of how bad the problem is. I know, I can even speak personally that before September 11th I knew there was a terrible al Qaeda problem. I didn't see powerful evidence of it in Indonesia. I knew there were other kinds of extremists that seemed indigenous. I'm not going to start naming them, you know who they are. They seemed like a problem for Indonesia but not necessarily a problem for us.
I think that since September 11th not only -- I think the activity level has probably gone up, but more importantly, our knowledge level has gone up. Why? One explanation is, I'll give you a for-instance. Because we got into Afghanistan, cleared out the Taliban, we got into an al Qaeda safehouse somewhere in Afghanistan that had a videotape that tipped us off to this group in Singapore. The Singaporians were shocked that people in that type place could actually be organizing a Cole-type attack on an American ship. They were probably more shocked than we were because our Navy knows they're vulnerable everywhere. It probably doesn't have quite the same [inaudible] Singaporians had before this.
We're all getting wakeup calls one after another. I have to tell you something too, by the way. You've mentioned how shocked Australians were. This kind of thing is shocking even when you've been shocked already. I notice how shocked the Israelis are by this latest bus thing. You never get used to the sight of human bodies strewn in the streets. We may get hit again in this country. We've seen it before, but it is shocking.
But it's startling to learn that you have it in your own society. It was startling to Singaporians. Those arrests, I think helped lead to some networks throughout Southeast Asia. I would say in some ways perhaps the Filipinos and the Malaysians as early as the mid '90s were tracking some of these people. They may have been a little less surprised than the rest of us. But I think we've all had a kind of rude awakening.
You asked how widespread this is. Part of the rude awakening is it doesn't take very many bad actors to kill 200 people in Bali. It doesn't take very many bad actors to kill 3,000 people in the World Trade Center. That's what's so disturbing about this phenomenon. That's why it's very important to understand that you need not to capture individuals or protect individual places, but you've really got to try over a long period of time to shrink these networks, to dry them up, to dry up their sources of money and support. A metaphor that's been used often is draining the swamp. But we're in for a long struggle.
Q: I want to follow up on that. Quite a number of these countries and their leaders have said that if America does go to war with Iraq, countries like Australia will probably be there with them. These will have a sort of a destabilizing approach, especially in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia and prompt more terrorist attacks.
How concerned are you about the security threats in the region, in the Southeast Asian region if war does go ahead? And do you think there's anything much that can be done to counteract that threat?
Wolfowitz: I think first of all, let me emphasize -- I say it so often I get tired of it myself and I forget that I haven't said it already.
Our real goal, the President's real goal in this confrontation with Iraq is to achieve the peaceful disarmament of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. I don't accept the idea that war is inevitable, which may or may not be the premise of your question. If it's the premise, I want to reject it.
I would freely admit it will require an enormous change in attitude on the part of the Iraqi regime, which has paid an incredibly high price for over 11 years to hang onto these weapons. On the other hand they've never been confronted with a serious determination by the United States. They've never been confronted I think with a resolution as strong as the one thats came out of the U.N. a couple of weeks ago. So that is our desire.
I think the President has said more or less that we have to achieve the disarmament of those weapons -- peacefully if possible, if necessary by the use of force. But the use of force is not the first resort.
You ask a very fair question. You've certainly thought through as carefully as you possibly can all the implications of war. We understand there are real risks if we have to use force, including the risk that you mentioned. But we think the dangers of the continuation of the Iraqi development of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons, the continued defiance of now 17 UN resolutions is just too big a danger to go on living with indefinitely.
I think while probably terrorists will try to claim -- They use any excuse that's available to justify killing innocent people. That may turn out to be a convenient excuse at the moment. But the fact is I think they've demonstrated that whenever they have a chance to kill people, they kill people. They're limited by their capability, not by what we do. They're not responsive to what we do. Bali was not a response to anything, the World Trade Center wasn't a response to anything. They may claim the next act is a response to something but it isn't. In fact bin Laden made it perfectly clear in 1998 that in his view, what a perverted view of religion. His perverted view of religion is that killing people was a religious duty.
That is so at odds with the overwhelming Indonesian view of Islam.
I have to say I was delighted with the poll that USA Today published some time ago that showed some kind of disturbing attitudes in parts of the Arab world about the World Trade Center bombing including -- I don't want to mention bad statistics. Indonesia stood out as a country where only a tiny percentage of people believed that the attacks were morally justified, and I'll bet half of those didn't understand the question. And I think Bali has brought it home again.
Q: But do you think that the regional terrorist threat will go up if Iraq is subjected to military action?
Wolfowitz: These things are not easy to predict. I think they're very speculative.
If we knew enough about how the terrorists operate and plan to be able to answer that question with any precision, we'd have even more of them arrested than we do.
Before I was working this building for Secretary of Defense Cheney 11 years ago, before the first Gulf War and we were fearful of a big increase in violence and terrorism and big mobs and so forth at the end of the Persian Gulf War. As it turned out, none of those alarmist predictions happened. Does that mean they won't happen this time? I don't know. We have to prepare for the worst.
Q: Militarily and physically [inaudible] Pakistan [inaudible] and Philippines [inaudible]. [Inaudible] in public relations war against terrorists [inaudible] forthcoming war. How do you see the role of Indonesia in the [inaudible] partnership with the United States? In some sort of public relations campaign against [terrorism]. Because I think that is where Indonesia can contribute. We cannot contribute militarily, physically, but in the [strategy] of [inaudible] against terrorism. I think the United States is winning the military war but losing the popular opinion.
Wolfowitz: The war on terrorism is not primarily a military campaign. The military has an important role to play but it isn't the most important role, and as the President has said, our President has said, we have to apply all the elements of national power -- intelligence, law enforcement, diplomacy, economics, finance. I think the last thing listed was the military and for good reason. We can do certain big things like Afghanistan but when it comes to tracking down terrorist cells in Hamburg or Jakarta or New York City or wherever they are, it's obviously not a military task, it's a law enforcement/intelligence task.
In that whole picture, to come to your question, I think ultimately it is most importantly a battle for the minds of people. I think in some ways, it may be presumptuous for a non-Muslim to say it. I think in many ways it's the struggle for the heart of the Muslim world and I think from my experience in Indonesia, I think the great majority of the world's Muslims are on our side of the fight, at least now and not on the side of the terrorists. But I think it makes all three of the countries you just mentioned have a special kind of importance -- Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia. They're each very different, but they're each big Muslim countries in which there is -- there is success in building democratic and tolerant societies. It could make a very big difference in changing I think the outlook for the world's Muslims, just as I believe that successes from the early successes in today's democratic and capitalist countries set a path even for the people of China, which they're slowly moving along.
I think what the Muslim world and especially the Arab world needs is some models of success. We don't have enough of them. Indonesia may not feel at this delicate stage of its history that it's a model of success. I think it has the real potential to be a model of success. It requires overcoming some huge economic problems, it requires dealing with terrorism, it requires reforming their military; but it doesn't require teaching tolerance, it doesn't require teaching democratic values, it doesn't require developing a free press. You have some wonderful ingredients to build on.
Turkey is going through a very interesting period, again through economic crisis. But they just had an election that produced a very startling result. They seem to be absorbing that in a very orderly, democratic way. I find that encouraging.
Pakistan has the biggest challenge of all and I think it's because the extremist education penetrated the Pakistani schools so deeply that there's a lot of repair work to be done. The political situation is less favorable.
Q: [inaudible] the United States?
Wolfowitz: I don't know the full list, but it may very well not have been. But that -- come back. Your question kind of assumes the only countries that matter are the countries that contribute militarily. That's just not true. I think the countries that matter are the countries that contribute in the long run to winning this struggle which is -- I know people say we're being simple minded, but it is a struggle between good and evil and --
Q: Information war.
Wolfowitz: And I think the reason the terrorists went after Bali is they [inaudible] obstacles to victory, and that means Indonesia's success will be an obstacle to their victory and it's very important.
Q: Very quickly on that question. When the United States was looking to institutions where you listed Indonesia and Turkey and, I was thinking about Afghanistan rather than Pakistan. Immediately after you left Notmindi got up and said well very interesting states but look at the countries he didn't talk about. Israel was of course one point there.
Just quickly, for all the good work that may be done in those countries isn't the United States missing an opportunity to do more to resolve that issue in the Middle East and improve its image in the Muslim world and also bring alongside more people and reduce more terrorism just by paying far more attention than it's been paying to the Middle East process?
Wolfowitz: You're going into State Department business, but the U.S. has paid a lot of attention to that problem. Secretary Powell put enormous energy into it last April, trying to keep that crisis from blowing up. I think much more successfully than people realize because you have to put it against things that didn't happen. They were really on the edge of a major escalation, a war between Israel and Syria. I think his intervention and some other interventions helped to prevent that.
I think ultimately it led to a certain unwinding of the violence. And in fact -- I think the initiative that the President announced in June to try to begin to push reform of Palestinian institutions is a major part of this picture. It's going to take some time I think to get the results, but it's absolutely crucial.
There isn't a magic solution to that problem. If there were one, people would have come up with it a long time ago. The United States made a major push in the second Camp David thing to try to achieve the settlement, and look at what happened. The aftermath is a carnage environment.
So things don't go in a straight line here, but no one should underestimate or misrepresent the American commitment to a peaceful outcome. It would clearly serve our interests. Clearly the violence [inaudible], but we're not the cause of violence.
Q: I guess Roy and I have been reading the same book. According to --
Wolfowitz: [inaudible]? [Laughter]
Q: According to Woodward the Secretary of State pointed out a number of possible risks of any military action against Iraq including destabilization of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, plus, to use a phrase from the book, it would suck all the oxygen out of everything else the U.S. was doing militarily and diplomatically across the board.
Are these the real risks of a military confrontation with Iraq? And if so, are they risks that we're prepared to take?
Wolfowitz: The Secretary of Defense put together a list of, I don't know if it's 19 or 20 awful things that could happen in the context of, if there is a war with Iraq. He's been pushing us to think very hard of all the things that can go wrong and unfortunately there are quite a few. The problem is there are also a lot of things that can go wrong if you continue having, as the President put it, one of the world's worst dictators in possession of the world's worst weapons so that's the thing you have to balance.
I think the only thing in the long list of risks that people like to assemble the one that I think is usually generally overstated is the supposed risk of instability if we lose Saddam Hussein as the controlling force over Iraq.
You know, I'm accused of being excessively optimistic here. I don't see how it could be any worse than it is with that man there. He's a destabilizing force in his country. He's a destabilizing force in his region. He mistreats his own people as horribly as any leader in the world except possibly the North Koreans. And I think rather than being a risk, I think there's a potential opportunity there. That's not a reason to go to war, but of all the risks I worry about, and I worry about a great many, I'd love to have the opportunity to deal with the risks of an Iraq without Saddam Hussein.
Q: Many suspects of the main actor of terrorist attack in Bali were arrested -- Amrozi, Gudama and [inaudible]. And Indonesian government also extends the detention of the radical Muslim cleric [Habu Basam Bashir]. Also many extremist leaders in Indonesia [inaudible] and Islamic Defense Fund [inaudible] and others also were detained now. Do you think they reflect the end of Muslim radicalism in Indonesia?
You are a former U.S. Ambassador in Jakarta and former Dean [inaudible].
Wolfowitz: I actually thought you were going to go in a different direction with that question, which you didn't ask it but I will just comment on it, I know there is a lot of controversy about what is appropriate and isn't appropriate when it comes to law enforcement action against terrorists, and I can't sit here as a non-Indonesian and judge what's appropriate. I can say that we have the same controversies here. We live under a rule of law, we believe deeply in civil liberties, in fact we're fighting to defend civil liberties. So we have to be very careful about how we follow the law and protect the liberties when we go after criminals. And these particular criminals have developed very sophisticated ways of exploiting the freedoms of a democratic country to hide and to operate.
We've made some changes in our laws that strengthen our ability to go after terrorists but we think also protect the liberties of ordinary Americans. I think Indonesia faces some of those, and I thought you might ask me about that.
I think the question you asked me about whether this is the end of the problem, I wish I could say it probably is, but I have to say it probably isn't because I think, just as I don't think we've seen the end of the problem here in the United States, I think it's going to take a long time, it's going to take persistence. In fact one of the greatest enemies of success here would be to say oh well, the problem's, we arrested five big people, the problem's gone.
We've got to keep after it. We've got to go after some of the root causes of the problem. But I am struck by something which is we have a group of Australian journalists and Indonesian journalists here, and I couldn't have said this ten years ago. You both represent great democratic allies. [Laughter] And it's not a trivial point. I think ultimately what is going to succeed here is democracy. I have enormous faith in ultimately the power that comes from that. I know we create some problems for ourselves in many ways. Civil liberties [inaudible], but I'd much rather have our problems than the problems of the other side. I think it's a huge strength and it's wonderful to be able to think that instead of just having to say my Australian friends are a democratic country that Indonesia is also.
Kevin gave me a little note too suggesting that it might be helpful just to emphasize two really important simple concepts that are central in our thinking about Iraq. One is the simple phrase "the risk of action versus the risk of inaction." I think sometimes even in our country by the way, especially outside our country, people think that somehow the debate in this country is between people who are absolutely sure that war is the solution and then other people are absolutely sure that war is the wrong thing.
I think we all understand that it's a dangerous way either way we go. If we do nothing about Iraq it's going to be dangerous. If we have to use force against Iraq it's going to be dangerous. What the President has been doing is weighing those different dangers.
I suppose that brings me to the second point. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the best solution is a peaceful solution. The only way we'll get a peaceful solution against a man like Saddam Hussein who has made it so clear he wants to hang onto these weapons is to convince him that the only way to survive is to give them up. I don't know if we can convince him of that. Anything less than that has been tried for 11 years and hasn't worked. That's where we're at.
I think we have some chance now thanks to the kind of solidarity of the world [inaudible] that Security Council Resolution. I think we have a better chance because of the cooperation we'll get from I think most of those 51 countries including definitely Australia, maybe Indonesia. I'm sure if we had something to ask from Indonesia, I imagine they will cooperate. But we're not looking for military forces in Iraq.
Q: Did you ever think that the President would get this far in the inspection process that we would have seen Blix and [inaudible] in Iraq?
Wolfowitz: Look, I think with real resolve and real determination we can change the way Saddam Hussein thinks. It didn't happen just by another resolution. It happened because of the resolution and determination of Congress. [Inaudible] clear point.