31 January 2003
Wolfowitz Warns Terrorists Could Get Weapons of Mass Destruction
(Says terrorist states can be expected to deal with terrorists) (6150)
Weapons of mass destruction under the control of a government that
deals with terrorists could ultimately end with the terrorists,
according to Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz.
Speaking to journalists from Southeast Asia January 28, the Defense
Department official drew upon the threat as a rationale for seeking to
disarm the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Wolfowitz noted that Iraqi state institutions participate in hiding
and concealing Saddam Hussein's weapons. Saddam Hussein's son, Qusay,
heads a large group of security and intelligence personnel that
conceals Iraq's illegal weapons from the United Nations weapons
inspectors, he said.
The Defense Department official estimated that there are "some twenty
Iraqi intelligence and security people hiding weapons for every single
inspector there is in Iraq."
The United States, he added, knows there are ties between Saddam
Hussein's regime and "a whole range of terrorist groups, including al
The United States also knows that "Saddam has these weapons,"
The United States, he continued, is not prepared to wait until the
Baghdad regime turns such weapons over to a terrorist group such as al
Reprising the events that led up to the September 11 terror attacks on
the United States in which 3,000 people were killed, Wolfowitz noted
that by June of 2001, it was already "too late to do anything in
The terrorists had already established themselves in the United
States, he said.
"In fact, the last hijackers arrived in April of 2001," Wolfowitz
said, "The pilots all arrived the year before."
It is the nature of such a threat that one doesn't acquire the hard
evidence of the threat until one has been attacked, he suggested.
Wolfowitz warned that if the Baghdad regime continues to defy United
Nations resolutions calling for it to disarm, then the United States
will disarm the Iraqi regime, by force if necessary.
He suggested that people in Muslim nations such as Malaysia and
Indonesia should realize that the U.S. campaign is not aimed at the
people of Iraq, but only at the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein that
has been "abusing its own people in a most gruesome way for decades."
In a similar manner, Wolfowitz said, the war against terrorism is not
a war with Muslims, in fact, "It's the terrorists who want to impose a
very narrow and intolerant view of Islam on their fellow Muslims."
Wolfowitz said the terror bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali
demonstrated how "just a tiny number of these extremists can do
horrible damage to a whole country, horrible damage to its economy,
horrible damage to its reputation."
What many of the nations of Southeast Asia have in common with the
United States and Western Europe is that they are democratic societies
with civil liberties which terrorists seek to exploit, Wolfowitz said.
Terrorists "love civil liberties; they love police forces that obey
the law," he said.
"They've found for a long time that the Philippines is a comfortable
place to operate, not because your country likes terrorists, but
because your country treats people fairly decently, and they come in
and out fairly decently," Wolfowitz told a Philippines reporter.
"I think we all need to be realistic about the need for good law
enforcement, and we're wrestling with that problem here in the United
States," Wolfowitz told the reporters.
"How do you get the right balance between the civil liberties that
we're fighting for, and the terrorists that take advantage of those
civil liberties?" he asked.
Following is a transcript of the briefing:
United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2003
(Interview with Southeast Asian journalists.)
Wolfowitz: -- now for some time, the effort to disarm Iraq of what I
think are properly called weapons of mass terror, by which -- the
usual phrase is weapons of mass destruction--but in the hands of a
government that deals with terrorists, I think the real issue is the
danger that these chemical or biological or radiological, or even
nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists. And I think
they are weapons of mass terror. That is what concerns us, that we are
trying in every way we know how to deal with the Iraqi issue
peacefully, if at all possible, and making use of the United Nations,
which had originally some sixteen resolutions on the subject. And last
November, of course, we passed Resolution 1441, which was to give Iraq
one last chance to comply with its requirements to disarm. We've been
waiting 12 years for Saddam Hussein to do so, and as far as we can
tell, he still has not made the decision to meet that requirement,
even though he agreed to it as a condition of the ceasefire at the end
of the Gulf War 12 years ago. And as the President has made clear, if
the Iraqi regime continues to defy the U.N. by refusing to disarm
itself, then if necessary, we will disarm them by force, disarm it by
In that connection, and I think particularly for my friends from
Malaysia and Indonesia -- but all of you probably run into this
question -- if it comes to the use of force, this is not going to be a
war against Iraq. It is a war only against the Iraqi regime, and it's
a regime that has been abusing its own people in a most gruesome way
for decades now. And if we have to use force, we will do it with the
maximum care to avoid harming innocents, maximum care to avoid harming
the Iraqi economy.
And I'm convinced that when that regime is gone, the Iraqi people will
be nearly unanimous in greeting it as an act of liberation. We saw in
Afghanistan in 2001 that when the Taliban fell, almost all Afghan
people rejoiced at their departure. I think it's nothing compared to
how relieved the Iraqi people will be if this man goes, but as I say,
our goal is focused on disarmament. And if we can achieve disarmament
by peaceful means, then we will deal with the other problems in other
ways, but I did want to make that point because we're not at war with
the Iraqi people; we're not at war with Muslims. In fact, I believe
it's the terrorists who are at war with Muslims. It's the terrorists
who want to impose a very narrow and intolerant view of Islam on their
And we've seen in Indonesia, for example, how just a tiny number of
these extremists can do horrible damage to a whole country, horrible
damage to its economy, horrible damage to its reputation, because most
Americans don't understand what I understand, which is that these
people are just a tiny, thin minority. But since you have influence
with your people, the more you can help us to explain that we are not
only not at war with Islam or Muslims, we are very much supportive of
Islam and Muslims, and the size of the Muslim population here in the
United States, I think is a demonstration of that fact.
I might just add -- and then I'm happy to try to take questions -- I
made a fairly major speech in New York last Thursday. The main point I
made in that speech is that the whole idea behind Resolution 1441 is
that if Saddam Hussein has had a fundamental change of attitude in
policy, and really wants to comply with the requirements of the United
Nations, and give up these weapons of mass terror, then there is a
model that works. We've seen it in the past, that countries that want
to disarm have done so. They've done so according to a pattern that we
call cooperative disarmament, and when it happens, you know it.
And I mentioned three historical examples. South Africa was one under
President de Klerk. They said, "We're giving up our nuclear weapons,"
and they got rid of them, and convinced the whole world that they had
done so. The Ukraine is another example, and Kazakhstan is another
example. Both of those gave up the weapons that they inherited from
the old Soviet Union, and there are other examples. Those are the
three I picked out because they're the most dramatic.
And what we're seeing from Baghdad is almost -- not almost; it really
is the complete opposite of cooperative disarmament. When you have
cooperative disarmament, in the first place, there's a national
commitment to doing so. In the case of Iraq, there's a national
commitment to hiding and concealing everything they have, and it
hasn't changed. When you have cooperative disarmament, the
institutions of the state participate in dismantling the weapons. In
the case of Iraq, the institutions of the state participate in hiding
and concealing the weapons. In Iraq, the concealment effort is headed
by none other than Saddam's son, Qusay, and the special security
organization that he runs. And the estimates are there are some twenty
Iraqi intelligence and security people hiding weapons for every single
inspector there is in Iraq. You can imagine how outnumbered they are.
And the third point is, when a country wants to do cooperative
disarmament, it opens its books; it opens its laboratories; it
provides its scientists to be interviewed. And Iraq has done none of
that. They gave us 12,000 pages of lies, basically, in this document
that was supposed to be their final declaration. They have presented
numerous obstacles to the inspections, including refusing to allow U2
surveillance flights, which was supposed to -- one of the things that
the U.N. inspectors have requested.
And what I think is most chilling of all, they -- we have numerous
reports through various defectors and intelligence sources that they
are threatening Iraqi scientists who cooperate with the U.N. with the
most dire punishments, including not only death, but death for their
families. That is the opposite of cooperative disarmament. And it
means also, I think, that for whatever reasons, Saddam Hussein is
determined to hang onto the anthrax that he has and the botulinum
toxin that he has, and the ricin that he has. And these are the
weapons that terrorists are actively seeking today. In fact, the
terrorists that were arrested in England had ricin. If they get their
hands on Saddam Hussein's ricin, they will be much more dangerous.
So, that's the danger we're trying to prevent. It's a danger to us,
but I think it's also a danger to the whole world. The Philippines has
experienced terrorist attacks; Malaysia has experienced terrorist
attacks. Indonesia has experienced some of the worst ones. Thailand,
you've had -- you're Thai, right?
Wolfowitz: I mean, you've had -- not quite as bad. You've all been
victims and we've been victims, and we can't leave the world's worst
weapons in the hands of one of the world's worst dictators. And that's
the heart of what we're concerned about here. So, I'd be glad to try
to answer questions.
Wolfowitz: I don't know, but I think what Secretary Powell said, which
is that time is running out on this process, I think the -- in many
ways, the credibility of the whole United Nations system is at stake
here. We went along. We kind of got sucked into a game 12 years ago
of, well, we'll just play this out a little longer. We'll let him
issue yet another declaration, which will turn out to be lies. We'll
try it again; we'll try it again. We kept compromising the inspection
system until finally, there were no inspectors left. 1441 was his last
chance, and it was a fresh start for the United Nations. And again, to
quote Powell, "The time is running out." If we're going to be credible
here, we've got to bring this to a decision. I don't know how long.
That's a -- in our country, that's a decision for the President to
make, and obviously, it's not a decision he's going to make by
himself. He's going to be consulting with all of our friends and
partners, including -- your government's very important; obviously,
the ones who are on the Security Council. We don't have a lot of time
if we're going to be serious.
Q: Sir, you've mentioned the weapons idea, like for example, they
bought the anthrax and everything. Is there evidence of some of that
already in the hands of terrorist groups in other countries?
Wolfowitz: I would say our basic concern is what could happen, and the
distinct possibility that it could happen. It's not just sort of
purely theoretical. We know that there are ties between the Iraqi
regime and a whole range of terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, and
we know that Saddam has these weapons. Whether he's actually turned
them over to terrorists is not something that -- I mean, we're not
prepared to wait until that happens, and it's -- if you stop and think
about the situation in Afghanistan, by June or July or August of 2001,
it was already too late to do anything in Afghanistan. The terrorists
were all in the United States by then. In fact, the last hijackers
arrived in April of 2001. The pilots all arrived the year before. You
can't -- it's in the nature of this kind of threat that the only time
you really have hard evidence that it's on you is when it's hit. You
know, a lot of Indonesians didn't believe that there was a threat
until Bali happened. And I think it's enough to have evidence that he
has the weapons, and we have evidence of that. It's enough to have
evidence that he works with terrorists; we have that. And what we're
trying to do is to stop him, remove those weapons from his hands
before he hands them over to terrorists.
Q: Sir, I think (inaudible) about what is a question on a lot of
people's minds is what appears to be a contradictory way that the U.S.
is dealing with Iraq and with North Korea. Can you explain it a bit?
Why is the U.S. --
Wolfowitz: Happy to, yes. We get this question here a lot, too, and
it's not, in my view, contradictory at all. But if I could just start
by mentioning, when the President spoke a year ago at the State of the
Union message, and he identified North Korea and Iran and Iraq as
three countries that posed a common danger -- which is that they were
countries that were all hostile to the United States quite openly --
that had weapons of mass destruction and were developing more, and
then had ties to terrorists. And he said, "They represent a common
danger in that respect." And there was an outcry around the world and
here, "Why is the President lumping all these three countries
together? Doesn't he understand they're different?"
Well, over the course of the next few months, we laid out three
different policies for each of those countries. And now that North
Korea has emerged as exactly what the President said they were, which
is a country that pays no regard for its agreements, people say,
"Well, how come you're treating North Korea differently from the other
two?" They are different. That's what the whole world said. They have
a -- pose a common danger, but each one in a different way. I would
say among the many differences, the one that I would urge people to
focus on most clearly is that we have now seventeen U.N. resolutions
demanding that Iraq comply with the terms of the 1991 ceasefire. Quite
a few of them address this issue of weapons of mass destruction. We
have yet to bring the North Korean issue to the U.N., much less to
have a U.N. resolution. And at the last meeting of the Board of
Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, they decided to
give North Korea one last chance before they brought it to the U.N.
There are other differences, too, and I could go into them, but the
point is, we are very serious about both policies. The fact that we
have a North Korea problem, and we do, and the fact that we're going
to deal with that problem in a deliberate and careful way should not
then become a reason for saying, "Well, Saddam, you -- we said you had
one last chance, but it turns out you have a lot more chances until
we're finished dealing with North Korea." You have to take them the
way they come.
Q: You mentioned that --
Wolfowitz: You're next, because I know you've been waiting.
Q: You mentioned that you're trying to resolve the conflict
Wolfowitz: Umm hmm.
Q: But there is a continued sending of troops surrounding Iraq. So, is
there any mixed signals with that policy?
Wolfowitz: No. In fact, that's a very good question, because people
ask it all the time, but it's an opportunity to say something very
clearly. There is no hope of solving this peacefully unless Saddam
understands that there's a threat of force. We've had 12 years of
clear evidence that he will never give up these weapons unless he has
to. And to be honest, many of the people who mean well, who want to
prevent a war, are sending their message in the wrong direction. Every
time Saddam sees that some other country says, "Washington, you should
wait," he says, "Oh, I have a little more time. I don't have to be
serious." Every time he hears another country say, "Washington, we're
with you if Saddam doesn't disarm," Saddam has to start taking it more
seriously. I don't know whether he'll change, but I know the only
hope, the only hope that he will change, is if he's convinced that
it's his only alternative. And as long as people keep sounding as
though he can play this out, that he has many more years, he has
another 12 years, then he knows he's winning, and he won't change.
You know, there's a historical example that's helpful, although I
don't think we're dealing with a leader that's as rational as Nikita
Krushchev was, but in 1962, President Kennedy resolved the Cuban
missile crisis peacefully by a clear threat of force. If he hadn't had
that threat of force, the diplomatic solution would not have worked.
Q: Yes. How is the (inaudible) active participation of the Arab
countries in solving this problem in order to avoid war if possible?
Wolfowitz: Well, first of all, by the way, I don't know of any country
that doesn't want to avoid war, most emphatically including the United
States. I mean, this President, our President, has had to meet with
widows of soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan, and every one of
those meetings is agonizing. And he knows that if we go to war against
Saddam Hussein, that it will -- he'll have more such meetings. The
only reason he's prepared to face that is because he thinks the risks
of leaving Saddam with his weapons is even worse.
So, no one wants a war, but for some fairly obvious reasons, I think
the Arab governments are particularly afraid of a war. For one thing,
they're afraid about how their own people will react if there's a war.
For another thing, I think even though most of them know that Saddam
is a terrible dictator and that his people are treated horribly, the
idea of the world attacking and taking on an Arab government is
obviously not appealing. So, they're doing what they can
diplomatically to try to avoid one, including a lot of creative
efforts to convince the people around Saddam that the best thing he
could do would be to leave peacefully. And I think there are any
number of Arab governments who would be happy to give him a
comfortable home to retire in, if he would just leave, and maybe
that's a way to avoid it.
But if I could just say, I mean, it's important to understand that for
anyone who lives in that neighborhood, it's a very, very dangerous
thing to come out openly against this Iraqi regime as long as it might
still be in power a year or two or three from now. They're waiting to
see what the United States does, and it's fair enough. So, I think
there are a lot of countries, Arab countries particularly, but a lot
of countries that are sitting on the fence, and who may privately tell
us that they'll support us, but they're certainly not going to do it
And I think there are another group of countries who won't even tell
us privately they'll support us, but when the time comes, I think they
will be very helpful in building a different kind of Iraq afterwards.
I think there was a period in the 1990s when the Arab governments
said, "Why aren't you Americans doing something about Saddam Hussein?
He's a terrible dictator. You leave -- you're a powerful country. The
only reason he's still there is because it serves American interests."
Well, that was wrong. He was there because we don't want to have to go
to war, but September 11th changed the calculations for us, and I
think they understand just how bad a leader he is.
Q: Sir, in the fight against terrorism, particularly in Southeast
Asia, what is the U.S. plan towards this region? You are going to open
another front? You see any front that should be opened or (inaudible)
the campaign there?
Wolfowitz: Well, thank you, first of all, for shifting ground, and if
we can stay off Iraq for a while, there is a much bigger world out
there, and Southeast Asia is a big part of it. And I think you can
speak for yourselves, but I think I know what I'm saying, that almost
everyone who knew your part of the world was shocked at how far al
Qaeda had gotten into Southeast Asia. When I came into government in
2001, and I heard some people say, "There are al Qaeda in Indonesia,"
I said, "Look, there are some extremists in Indonesia. There's Lasco
Jihad. There's some people you may not like, but they're not
international terrorists and they're not tied to al Qaeda." Well, I
was wrong; we were all wrong, and unfortunately, every day we learn
more about these connections.
And I think -- so, the problem is there, number one. Number two,
sometimes people make the mistake of saying because there are big
Muslim populations in Southeast Asia -- not only in Malaysia and
Indonesia, but obviously, in the Philippines also, and in Thailand
also -- that somehow that's the heart of the problem. I mean, look, we
found a lot of terrorists in Germany. In fact, the whole September
11th attack was planned, in many respects, in Germany, in European
countries. It's a worldwide problem, and I don't think -- I'm glad
that people in Southeast Asia seem to be more comfortable admitting
now that they have this problem, instead of saying that it's a shame
on Indonesia; it's a shame on Malaysia; or to say that we've got the
problem. We've got the problem here. The Germans have the problem in
Germany; you have the problem in Southeast Asia.
I think -- and what you also have in common, for the most part, with
the United States and Western Europe is that terrorists love
democratic countries. They love civil liberties; they love police
forces that obey the law. And they've found for a long time that the
Philippines is a comfortable place to operate, not because your
country likes terrorists, but because your country treats people
fairly decently, and they come in and out fairly decently. And
Indonesia's now a democracy, and I'm delighted with that, but it also
means that the terrorists have advantages they didn't have in the old
days. So, I think we all need to be realistic about the need for good
law enforcement, and we're wrestling with that problem here in the
United States. How do you get the right balance between the civil
liberties that we're fighting for and the terrorists that take
advantage of those civil liberties?
But then, let me just say the third piece to me about Southeast Asia
is that I think a big part of winning this war in the long run is not
just winning the fight on the battlefield against the terrorists, but
winning the peace in the sense of helping the countries that are the
targets of the terrorists build a kind of society that is, in itself,
an answer to terrorists.
I've given several speeches, starting with the one I gave in Monterey
last May called "Bridging the Dangerous Gap for the Muslin World." And
the theme I was really trying to push there, and I've been trying to
push over and over again, is that there are hundreds of millions of
allies in this war on terrorism who are Muslims, who understand that
what the terrorists want to do is to subjugate their fellow Muslims.
And we need to find ways of bridging that gap and reaching out to
them, and I list a number of the things that I think we ought to be
doing in that regard.
Southeast Asia is important in that dimension, Indonesia particularly,
but the whole region. In fact, when I gave a speech in Singapore on
the way over, even I -- who think I know something about East Asia --
I thought about it for the first time. I believe roughly half the
Muslim world lives in South and East Asia, if you include the Pakistan
(inaudible). It's easily 600 million. So, to the extent this is to
some extent a fight for the soul of the Muslim world, well, that fight
is very much -- Southeast Asia is a very important part of it, and I
think the terrorists recognized it before we did, but we've got to
Q: Sir, last October it was said that as the United States would
cooperate with Malaysia and (inaudible) particularly to set up an
antiterrorism center in Kuala Lumpur. Details have been pretty
sketchy. All we have heard so far is there's not going to be military
cooperation. You will not involve the Malaysian population, but can
you give us more details on that?
Wolfowitz: I think I can't, and I -- a lot of the most effective work
that is done here is obviously cooperation among law enforcement
authorities and intelligence agencies, and it goes on daily, and it's
very effective and I know about some of it. I only know about some of
it. When it comes to the military, where I know a lot -- I think I'm
supposed to know most of what we do -- we don't view the terrorism
problem in Southeast Asia as primarily a military problem. The only
exception that I know of is in the Southern Philippines, where we
have, in fact, been working with the Philippine armed forces to
develop their counter-terrorism capabilities, because there you do
have these sort of wild jungle areas where terrorists engage in a kind
of classic guerilla warfare, but it's the only place, I think, in
Southeast Asia where the terrorists present a military challenge. For
the most part, it's a law enforcement and intelligence challenge. And
what my colleagues at the CIA and at the FBI say is the cooperation
has been very good, and it's been improving and they don't even like
answering my questions too much. So --
Q: A follow-up?
Q: Military challenge with the Abu Sayyaf?
Q: Is what kind, more soldiers, or --
Wolfowitz: No. I mean in the sense that they're able to take advantage
of sanctuaries in the jungles and wild areas that police are not
equipped to deal with. And so, you need small-scale military special
forces kinds of activities. And it's not -- let me be very clear. Our
role has been to train and support the Philippine military, so that
they can do their job. We're not taking over the task there, but I
just meant to distinguish it from elsewhere in the region, where it
seems to be entirely a police and law enforcement matter.
Q: You think Abu Sayyaf is still a threat?
Wolfowitz: Well, people -- I think there's been real progress. I think
the work in Basilan Island really was a setback for them, not just
from a simple military point of view, but I think also in terms of
building public support there for the -- against the terrorists. But
as you probably know, they sort of moved from there to somewhere else,
Q: Yes. Just a follow-up, sir, to just mention -- there was a clamor
for that to move to the next island, you know, that same activity, the
successful activity that was on Basilan Island.
Wolfowitz: Umm hmm.
Q: There's what they call a clamor, that we move down to -- what's
Wolfowitz: We're still in the process of evaluating the kind of
lessons learned from the Basilan experience, to see what makes sense
going forward, but we're still very supportive of the principle that
the Philippine armed forces are very determined, and quite capable of
reaching the level that they need to have. And so, our effort is to
support their capabilities and grow their capabilities. We're not
looking to take over missions that we don't have to.
Q: (Inaudible) back to Iraq. Everything is related to Iraq. Would you
think that if, you know, there's going to be war in Iraq (inaudible)
so many people concerned about that (inaudible) in many parts of the
world. My second question is, could you confirm or deny the
(inaudible) Iraq, talking about that in the Los Angeles Times --
Wolfowitz: You know, we're -- on the last point, there's a sort of
handicap, because for a lot of good reasons, people never want to say,
"We'll never do this, or we'll never do that," but let me just say I
agree with the person who said, "It's hard to think of any military
target in Iraq that we can't take care of with conventional weapons."
Our conventional capabilities are so awesome that people may be
reluctant at completely renouncing the nuclear option, but I think we
believe we have all the capabilities we need with our conventional
forces, and I guess I'd just leave it there.
The -- someone asked Secretary Rumsfeld if the war in Iraq would
inspire the terrorists to attack the United States, and his answer
was, "I don't think they need any inspiration." And I think that's the
-- I mean, these people have already made their intentions very clear.
Might some of them -- somebody's tape ran out -- I'm sure some of
them, if they're successful, will claim that they did it because we
took some action in Iraq, but I think we know better. I think we know
they're planning to do whatever they can do already.
If you just think back to my example, suppose we had taken some action
against Afghanistan in June or July of 2001, they would have attacked
the World Trade Center, and then they would have said it was a
retaliation. I mean, these people have made their intentions horribly
clear, and they don't -- they may refer to pretext, but I think we
shouldn't be deceived by that.
Q: Sir, there's a report that early next week, the U.S. government is
going to review some of the (inaudible) information. So, what kind
would be -- what kind of information would it be?
Wolfowitz: I think you have to wait and see. And we're going to have
to wrap this up here. So, you and then you, and then real quick.
Wolfowitz: I mean, you know there's evidence going back to Ramzi
Yousef in the mid-90s that there have been some pretty major league
operators that have exploited the Central Philippines, and then you
have these sorts of guerilla groups in the south. It's hard in any
country to assess what's the full extent of the problem because their
main strength is their ability to hide. Once they're out in the open,
they're a very weak force, but they hide very well. So, it's hard to
estimate it, but I think -- I mean, all the evidence that you've got
and we've got is that it's a very serious problem.
Q: Do you think the (inaudible) will successfully conclude an
agreement with the MILF and the (inaudible) army, and at the same time
waging a war against terrorism with U.S. support?
Wolfowitz: I don't think I can get into that one. Yes?
Q: Sir, I have a question and then I have (inaudible). How inhuman
Saddam is, because I was in Kuwait during the Gulf War, but this war
against Iraq is still have a negative impact to the Muslim-dominated
country that is war against Muslim. How do you (inaudible) this public
diplomacy in a Muslim-dominated country like Indonesia?
Wolfowitz: I think the main way -- I mean, it's very dismaying to me
that people seem to be sometimes so ignorant of the facts that they
don't bother even reading the first article or book about Iraq. You
don't have to read very much to understand that this is not the
government of the Iraqi people, and the only way I can think of to
puncture that ignorance is the testimony that will come out. And it
will come out in millions and millions of Iraqis telling about what
their government did to them; and that the day Iraq is liberated, what
you're going to hear from Iraqis is not, "Why did the Americans attack
Iraq," but "Why didn't the Americans do this much sooner?" If there's
going to be any complaint, it's going to be a complaint against the
whole world for abandoning them. And I hope they go to some of these
Muslim countries and some of these European countries that seem to be
so willing to speak up for Saddam Hussein, and go and say, "This is
what you were defending and it was terrible."
But if we agree the Taliban was mistreating their people, it's nothing
compared to what Saddam has done, and to what is unquestionably -- and
this is the tragedy of it -- Iraq could be, should be, one of the
leaders of the Arab world. Some of the most talented people in the
Arab world are Iraqis; 4 million of them have left their country
because it's so terrible. And I think, myself, that if the Iraqi
people get the kind of government they deserve, then the Arab people
will have a spokesman for the Arab world that will be able to stand up
and say to the Israelis, "You're not the only democracy in the Middle
East. We're a democracy, too, and we want to see a settlement of this
issue with the Palestinians." They will have a spokesman that is not
yet another dictatorship, but a spokesman that really speaks for the
voice of the Arab people, and demonstrates that Arabs can do it, and I
believe they can.
I -- you know, when I was Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia
20 years ago -- you know, it was that long ago. I started December of
1982, and when I became Assistant Secretary, Japan was the only
democracy in East Asia. And I remember going to the Philippines and
being told by some American diplomats that, "Yes, Marcos isn't a very
good leader, but we're not sure the Philippines can do any better."
Well, the Philippines has done a lot better, and Korea has done a lot
better and Taiwan has done a lot better. And with all its problems, I
would argue Indonesia's done a lot better, and Thailand's done a lot
better. And now, people don't say that -- they used to write books
about how Asians didn't like democracy. They like Confucian systems
where everybody told everybody else what to do. Well, that's wrong.
It's worse than wrong. I think it's as wrong applied to Arabs, and I
think a free Iraq could be a demonstration to the whole world of what
Arabs are capable of. Thank you very much.
Staff: Sir, I think we could squeeze in a couple of quick photos.
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