03 November 2003
Wolfowitz Says War on Terrorism Requires Greater Outreach
Campaign should reach beyond governments to individuals
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says winning the war on
terrorism requires outreach that "must go beyond governments."
"We must reach out to individuals because they are the real focal
point of liberal democracy and of the rule of justice under law.
They are the true engines of change," he said.
Speaking to students at Georgetown University in Washington October
30, Wolfowitz emphasized the importance of being "more attentive
to moderate voices in the Muslim world, for the better we can be
at encouraging and amplifying those voices, the more effective
we will be in leading the world ... toward ... values that will
bring lasting peace."
Wolfowitz said he believes "there are hundreds of millions of
moderate and tolerant people in the Muslim world who aspire to
enjoy the blessings of freedom and democracy and free enterprise
and equal justice under law." And, he added, "We must speak to
The battle of ideas "is not only fought in news media and newspapers
and books and public debate," according to Wolfowitz, "it's also
fought in those madrasas [religious schools] ... where poor children
are given a chance to get off the streets and to study, but what
they're taught there is not real learning. ... It's the tools that
turn them into terrorists."
He suggested the possibility of funding moderate religious schools.
Many Muslims, Wolfowitz said, have spoken out "against those who
have tried to hijack their religion. Unfortunately, all too often,
they have to do so in the face of threats and intimidation from
As a former ambassador to Indonesia, Wolfowitz said that he has
friends in that country "who are exponents of moderation" who have
a hard time finding funds for moderate schools and libraries to
teach Muslims the truth about their religion, yet "the extremists
can go around the world and get large quantities [of funds] without
any difficulty." It is not a matter of not having resources with
which to respond, he explained, but "we lack the means to deliver
Another factor in relations with the Muslim world, according to
Wolfowitz, "is the continuing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians." The
solution "can only come through political means," he said.
The deputy secretary suggested that the cause of peace in the
Middle East "will be enormously advanced if Israelis and Palestinians
can demonstrate overwhelming numbers in support of compromise and
in opposition to terrorism."
He pointed to the need for change on both sides. President Bush
has talked about the issue of Israeli settlements, Israel's construction
of a wall, and the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli occupation,
Wolfowitz noted. "There's no question that the president is prepared
to put pressure on the Israelis to change," he said, and "there
also has to be change on the Palestinian side."
If the Palestinians could adopt the ways of Mahatma Gandhi, Wolfowitz
predicted "they could, in fact, make enormous change very ... quickly.
I believe the power of individuals demonstrating peacefully is
It is important to achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians
and to succeed in Iraq, Wolfowitz said, because with the attainment
of those twin goals "moderates throughout the Muslim world will
be able to stand taller and stronger because they will have two
important successes that will greatly strengthen their hand."
Following are excerpts from Wolfowitz's remarks:
NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz Thursday,
October 30, 2003
We do need to do a better job of explaining our policies abroad
because that is part of winning the war on terrorism, the battle
Some try to say that there is a war on Islam. There is certainly
no war between the West and Islam. There is a battle against the
Muslim mainstream, against such underlying values as the rule of
law, but this battle is being waged by the same vicious extremists
that are waging war against what they believe we stand for. It
is a false distinction. Whether we're talking about the Koran,
the Bible, or the Geneva Convention, there is a common universal
regard for human life. There are fundamental moral protections
for human rights and the lives of the innocent.
These extremists kill without reservation. They corrupt the hopeless
with false promises, that suicide and murder are the paths to heaven.
And they use holy places, and orphanages and hospitals as military
platforms. But they are only a small minority of the more than
one billion Muslims in the world.
They have not only declared war against Islam, but against the
civilized world. We saw that on September 11, 2001 when hundreds
of Muslims were among the innocent thousands who died that day.
I saw it first-hand on Sunday, when they attacked people sleeping
in their beds in a hotel. We saw it in the attacks against the
International Red Cross and the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. We
saw it when they exploded a bomb outside one of the holiest shrines
of Shia Islam, killing one of Iraq's most important potential leaders.
These factors and more make moderate Muslims and the rest of the
civilized world natural and necessary allies. That puts us on the
same side as the majority of the world's Muslims.
Clearly we face a struggle over modernity and secularism, pluralism
and democracy, real economic development. Those ideas scare extremists
because their success, the success of those ideas, would mean the
lessening of the terrorists' iron grip on the people they seek
to control and oppress. That is exactly why the terrorists are
fighting along with the remnants of the Saddam regime in Iraq today.
They fear what success in Iraq will mean for them.
Given the scope of the evil of the terrorism we now oppose, this
fight for a just and peaceful world is not one to be waged only
by the United States, or only by the countries of the West. It
is a fight that is being fought -- and must be fought -- by all
who aspire for peace and freedom. That aspiration is what the terrorists
seek to destroy. And it is a fight that must be fought most emphatically
in the Muslim world and by Muslims themselves.
So part of our outreach must go beyond governments -- good ones
as well as bad. We must reach out to individuals because they are
the real focal point of liberal democracy, and of the rule of justice
under law. They are the true engines of change.
We must become, I think, more attentive to moderate voices in
the Muslim world, for the better we can be at encouraging and amplifying
those voices, the more effective we will be in leading the world,
as the president said, toward those values that will bring lasting
I would point out that Americans aren't the only ones who suffer
from vicious mischaracterization in the battle of ideas. Recall
the bombing in Najaf that took the life of Mohammed Bakar al-Hakim.
Some speculated, many here in the United States, that that horrendous
act would lead to attacks of Shia on Sunni, but instead of violence,
hundreds of thousands of people turned out to mourn and to witness
the funeral procession of Ayatollah Hakim as it passed by, and
they behaved in a manner like their behavior back in April at the
remarkable reinauguration of the Al-Brahim pilgrimage. They behaved
with remarkable calm and restraint.
I know from my own experiences that there are serious discussions
going on among Muslims throughout the world who want to move their
community into modernity. Unfortunately, we so often see that the
shrill rhetoric of extremism many times drowns out the more moderate
In reaching out to the Muslim world it is essential that we all
carry our share of the burden. Like the Cold War, the global war
on terrorism is a war of ideas and it promises, as President Kennedy
said a long time ago, to be a "long, twilight struggle". This country
will do its part and finish the job that has begun in Afghanistan
and Iraq, and we'll find more ways to support moderate Muslims
the world over.
But this is a fight that cannot be won by the West alone. In fact
the fight against the killers who pervert and exploit a great world
religion is most effectively fought by Muslims themselves. It is
more appropriate for Muslims to refute the extremists' false arguments
-- that Islam condones terrorism and suicide bombing, or the killing
of innocent men, women and children.
Muslim voices are the ones that will be most effective in calling
for the reform of Madrasas that deny Muslim children any opportunity
to cope and excel in the modern world.
Muslims are the only ones who can dispute theologically the extremist
teachings that are distributed free to millions.
And many good decent Muslims have spoken out against those who
have tried to hijack their religion. Unfortunately, all too often,
they have to do so in the face of threats and intimidation from
We should do everything we can to support those moderate voices
and assist their courage in speaking out. That is just one of many
reasons why it is so important for us not only to succeed in Iraq,
but also to achieve a peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Because when those two goals are attained, moderates throughout
the Muslim world will be able to stand taller and stronger because
they will have two important successes that will greatly strengthen
My own experiences throughout the years have taught me that when
we appeal to and support those who advocate the values of human
dignity, free speech, equal justice, respect for women, and religious
tolerance, that President Bush spoke of in his State of the Union
address last year -- all the things that Americans stand for --
things can and do change.
In my second tour of the Department of Defense in the aftermath
of the first Gulf War, we witnessed a striking change in one part
of Iraq in the Kurdish-controlled north. We saw an example of the
kind of self-government that Muslims can achieve, giving a lie
to those who say that Islam and democracy are incompatible. They
were beyond the reach of Saddam's regime but unfortunately still
under the same U.N. sanctions. People enjoyed, and enjoy today
a level of prosperity that far surpassed the rest of the country.
I know that here at Georgetown you have a keen interest in these
things and you understand that ideas like pluralism and tolerance
and self-government evolve with time, with persistence, and with
hard work. It was that way in our country, it's taken us more than
two centuries to get to where we are now, and we're certainly not
Based on my own experiences with Muslims, not only during my three
years as U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, but with Arabs and Turks
and Bosnians and Pakistanis and Malaysians and many others, my
own outlook is prudently optimistic despite the many obstacles.
I believe there are hundreds of millions of moderate and tolerant
people in the Muslim world who aspire to enjoy the blessings of
freedom and democracy and free enterprise and equal justice under
law. We must speak to them, and there are many of you in this room
who can help to do that.
Clearly, one huge factor in our relations with the Muslim world,
as well as one of the greatest obstacles to peace in that region,
is the continuing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. It
is clear that the solution of this conflict can only come through
President Bush has made it clear the importance that we attach
to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. As the president said, the
outline of a solution has been clear for some time and it's based
on two fundamental elements: The acknowledgement of Israel's right
to exist as a Jewish state within secure and recognized boundaries;
and the creation of a Palestinian state that brings an end to Israeli
occupation and provides a better life for its citizens and security
for its neighbors.
There are thousands of Israelis and Palestinians who feel the
same way. How do I know? Right now there is a significant grassroots
movement that has already gotten some 90,000 Israeli signatures
and some 60,000 Palestinian signatures in support of principles
that look very much like the roadmap favoring a two-state solution.
I had the privilege last week of meeting with the two organizers
of that petition, Sari Nusseibeh, a Palestinian, and Amit Ayalon,
an Israeli. One of the keys to achieving peace is to somehow mobilize
majorities on both sides so that the extremists who oppose it can
As Americans we know there are times when great changes can spring
from the grassroots. There are also times when great leaders can
point the way to breakthroughs. In one of those latter moments,
Anwar Sadat addressed the Israeli Knesset in 1977 and he said, "Any
life that is lost in war is a human life, be it that of an Arab
or an Israeli. Innocent children who are deprived of the care and
compassion of their parents are ours. They are ours," the president
of Egypt said, whether they live in Arab lands or in Israel."
And then he made a point that bears reflecting upon today. "There
are moments in the lives of nations and peoples," he said, "when
those who shoulder great responsibilities must have the courage
to make decisions that fit the magnitude of the situation, and
never to forget that infallibility belongs to God alone."
Most of what progress has been made in the Arab-Israeli peace
process over the years is owed to the courage and statesmanship
of some brave leaders -- both Arabs and Israelis. Anwar Sadat and
Yitzhak Rabin, King Hussein of Jordan, and Shimon Peres of Israel.
But as we know here in the United States, great change can sometimes
be mobilized from the bottom up. In either case, the cause of peace
in the Middle East will be enormously advanced if Israelis and
Palestinians can demonstrate overwhelming numbers in support of
compromise and in opposition to terrorism.
Achieving the president's vision of two states living side by
side in peace will be difficult. As the scenes of suffering and
carnage that we witness so often in the Middle East clearly attest,
one of the greatest obstacles to achieving that vision is terrorism.
Twenty years have passed since 241 U.S. Marines, stationed in
Beirut as peacekeepers, were killed as they slept when a truck
loaded with explosives slammed into their barracks. Even more than
that deadly attack, the withdrawal of the Marines told the world
-- and told the terrorists -- that terrorism succeeds.
Twenty years later we will send them the opposite message. And
if it's to be "a long, hard slog" as Secretary Rumsfeld has said,
to send terrorists that message, we as a country are up to it.
We can't afford to do anything less. We can't afford to quit on
the battlefield and we can't afford to quit in the battle of ideas.
We can't and we won't.
Now is the time for boldness and action. We are fortunate to have
a president who is willing to make decisions that do fit the magnitude
of the situation we face. And we are extremely fortunate to have
brave men and women who have volunteered to serve this nation both
in uniform, and as public servants, here at home and throughout
the world, risking their lives so that the rest of us can live
I'd like to close with one more story from my diplomatic years,
if you'll indulge me. I think some of you know -- Tom, Mark probably
went through this experience. When George Schultz was Secretary
of State every new ambassador heading out to their post would go
to his office for a picture that you could hang proudly in your
office and show all your foreign friends on what close terms you
were with your boss. And each time a new ambassador would come
in George would take them to this enormous globe that stood on
the floor some three or four feet tall, and he'd casually say, "Just
for this picture turn the globe to your country." The new diplomat
would eagerly spin the globe around to France or Mali or Germany,
at which point the secretary of state would say, "No, let me explain
something." And he would slowly turn that giant globe back to the
United States of America.
I have to confess by the time I went to Indonesia, I'd already
heard the story so fortunately I passed that exam, but I think
his exercise illustrates two important things. First, the security
of this country is legitimately first and foremost in our minds.
And second, that people around the world look to the United States
for leadership. Not just military leadership, but as an example
of justice and representative government in opposition to terrorism,
the greatest evil of our time.
When we guard our own interest, when we protect the things that
make America what it is, we help shape a secure and peaceful world.
That is the goal of our foreign policy, and that should be a goal
for all of you entering the field of Foreign Service.
I firmly believe that the future does not belong to those who
seek to tear down and destroy, whether it be buildings or religions
or opportunities for others to advance. The future belongs to those
who work to build a world based on justice and freedom and peace.
This room I know is full of potential builders.
I challenge you to take up this battle of ideas. We need you.
Our country needs you. The world needs you.
Q: Hi, my name is Courtney Raj. I'm a second year MSFS student.
I'm going into international journalism. I'd [extract] a quote
from what you said, that those who advocate free speech. And the
things that the U.S. stands for can and do change things. I'd like
to point out that our freedom of speech was taken away here when
they had a banner. That was a free expression of speech. I think
that's a shame at any university like this, first of all. [Applause]
Anyway, my question has to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
You said that you need to look no further than U.N. resolutions,
that you need to respect communal universal human rights, the Geneva
Convention, etc. And I was wondering if this applies to Israel
You have the Chief of Staff coming out and saying that the Israeli
security policies towards the Palestinians are harmful to Israeli
security and to Palestinians. They violate Geneva Convention 53,
and tons of other human rights of these Palestinians.
So I'm wondering is the president, as you said, he's ready to
make decisions of the magnitude needed for change. Is he ready
to make decisions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will
lend greater support to the Palestinians and ask the Israelis to
stop these policies that are detrimental to the Palestinians and
adding to the hopelessness that may be at the root cause of some
of the suicide bombings? [Applause]
Wolfowitz: Obviously there's a great deal that has to change on
both sides. You cited some things that Israelis have to change
and you could make a longer list. You could have talked about settlements,
for example. The president has talked about settlements, he's talked
about the wall, he's talked about the suffering of Palestinians
under Israeli occupation. There's no question that the p resident
is prepared to put pressure on the Israelis to change. There also
has to be change on the Palestinian side.
And I really do believe that the single greatest obstacle is terrorism.
If the Palestinians would adopt the ways of Gandhi, I think they
could in fact make enormous change very, very quickly. I believe
the power of individuals demonstrating peacefully is enormous.
But in any case, I think what the president has set out, what
Secretary of State Powell has set out, seems to me to be at this
point in history the best way forward. And I do have to say, contrary
to what you may have heard, foreign policy is made in the State
Department, and I need to be very careful about getting in the
way of Secretary Powell's diplomacy. I think it's pointed in the
I do believe, as I said in my remarks, that the solution unfortunately
has been awfully clear for a very long time. We came, it seems
to me, tragically close at Tabah to getting to that solution. It
began to look early this spring as thought we might once again
be on that path and this time with the active support of major
governments in the region. The bombings, and the violent response
to the bombings in the last couple of months have certainly been
a big setback, and we've got to get it back on track.
Q: Hi. In Richard Neustadt's book about presidential power he
talks about the president's ability to use persuasion as his true
leverage. Given your different vantage points and different administrations,
particularly wartime presidents, how would you asses President
Bush's ability to persuade the nation and other foreign leaders
that their main goal is in the best interest of Muslims in the
war on terror?
Wolfowitz: Obviously we still have a long way to go, but I believe
we've done some remarkable things over the last 10 years for which
the world ought to be giving us more credit, under three different
administrations. If you stop and think about it I think it's seven
times since the liberation of Kuwait in 1991,that the United States
has put young American men and women into combat or near-combat
situations in order to defend people from aggression or tyranny
or war-imposed starvation. I'm counting the liberation of Kuwait,
the liberation of northern Iraq later in 1991, the ending of the
starvation in Somalia, the actions in Bosnia that brought an end
to that horrible civil war, the intervention in Kosovo that brought
an end to the repression there, the liberation of Afghanistan in
2001, and now more recently in Iraq. In every case, we happen to
have been advancing the cause of a majority Muslim population and
Americans died and were wounded for those causes. We also believe
we were advancing the security of our country. But I think we deserve
a little more credit for that.
How we go about getting it, I'm not quite sure. But I think one
of the big challenges is what you mentioned. Trying to persuade
people in the middle of wartime is a difficult thing to do. The
action in Kosovo, even as relatively mild as it was, was enormously
controversial until it was successful.
I think as we move forward, a year or two from now when people
look back on this, when my friends in Indonesia who now are so
critical of what we're doing in Iraq have a chance to actually
visit Iraq and hear from Iraqis what's been done for them and what
they're doing for themselves, I think that opinion will begin to
change. But other things have to happen as well.
I mentioned the Arab/Israeli issue. That is obviously a key.
But finally, this particular battle of ideas is not only fought
in news media and newspapers and books and public debate, it's
also fought in those Madrasas that I referred to, where poor children
are given a chance to get off the streets and to study, but what
they're taught there is not real learning. It's not the tools for
coping with the modern world. It's the tools that turn them into
So I think again, education, but in a way that we've never had
to think so seriously about it before. Making funds available to
the thousands and thousands of moderate religious schools, and
this country isn't very good at supporting religious schools. We
have some constitutional difficulties there.
But I saw in Indonesia how what they there call Pasantrans, Muslim-based
boarding schools, had been a vehicle of giving poor children a
chance to succeed in the world. Teaching them that their religion
is a religion of tolerance, and teaching them to respect other
religions in their country.
So schools like that which don't get Gulf oil money ought to be
able to get support from the rest of the world. That's part of
this battle as well.
But let's go back and read our own history of the Civil War. Persuading
people in the middle of war is a difficult challenge. Success,
though, at the end of the day, also persuades people.
Q: Secretary Wolfowitz, with Iraq having been labeled as the central
front in the war on terrorism and with much focus having been put
on Iran, I have the following question.
The radicalization of Islam in countries such as Malaysia and
Indonesia can be traced to foreign Wahabi ideological influences.
Should the global networks of Wahabism be confronted as perhaps
one of the if not the core base of bin Ladinistic terrorism? If
Wolfowitz: That's a huge question and it's a good question. I'm
going to just bite off a small piece of it.
But I would question a little bit the premise, that phrase the "radicalization
of Islam in Indonesia." It implies that Indonesia's 200 million
Muslims have been radicalized and I don't think that's the case.
I could almost argue with you that they have been radicalized
in exactly the opposite sense by the brutal attack in Bali in the
fall of last year. Just as Americans were radicalized in the opposite
sense by the attacks of September 11th.
More and more Indonesians I believe are accepting that their country
has a problem with extremism and terrorism and they're standing
up against it. So that radicalization, at least in the case of
Indonesia, I think applies to, I don't want to guess at a number,
but suppose the number was as great as 20,000. You can do the math.
It's a tiny, tiny percentage of the 200 million people in that
country. But 20,000 people, and I don't think it's anything like
that, it just takes a few dozen people to do the Bali bombing or
the Jakarta bombing and they're out there. But the Indonesians
are getting much more serious about dealing with it.
I do think that the funding of extremism is not, though, just
a funding of bombers. It is the funding of schools that teach hatred,
of schools that teach terrorism. And to the extent that we can
bring influence to bear on countries whose governments, or perhaps
just their leading citizens, are putting money into those kinds
of enterprises, I think we should do so. But I believe the stronger
counter is going to be not cutting off those sources of funds,
much as I'd like to do it, but to be able to channel support to
the people who oppose them. We're not very good at doing that yet.
Analogies are dangerous, and when people first made analogies
between this war on terror and the Cold War my initial reaction
was to think they're completely different things. I think there
are some similarities, and I do think that one of them was that
during the Cold War the people who said that the enemy is the Left,
the enemy is anyone who calls themselves a Marxist, whether they're
democratic Marxists or not, were obviously wrong. The greatest
enemy of totalitarian Marxism were the Democratic Socialists of
Europe, and we learned to work with them.
Part of what we learned how to do, although we did some things
that we've now made illegal, and maybe appropriately so, were to
find ways of giving material support to people who were on the
front lines of those battles of ideas.
It does seem to me that it's an odd situation, despite obviously
the Gulf countries have a lot of money to pass around. But it's
an odd situation where some of my friends in Indonesia who are
exponents of moderation have difficulty in this world getting funding
for moderate libraries and schools that can teach young Muslims
the true teachings of their religion, but the extremists can go
around the world and get large quantities without any difficulty.
It's not that we lack the resources. We lack the means to deliver
them. That's a challenge that we need to work on, I think.
Q: Hi, Mr. Wolfowitz. My name is Ruthy Coffman. I think I speak
for many of us here when I say that your policies are deplorable.
They're responsible for the deaths of innocents and the disintegration
of American civil liberties. [Applause] We are tired, Secretary
Wolfowitz, of being feared and hated by the world. We are tired
of watching Americans and Iraqis die, and international institutions
cry out in anger against us. We are simply tired of your policies.
We hate them, and we will never stop opposing them. We will never
tire or falter in our search for justice. And in the name of this
ideal and the ideal of freedom, we assembled a message for you
that was taken away from us and that message says that the killing
of innocents is not the solution, but rather the problem. Thank
you. [Applause and jeers]
Wolfowitz: I have to infer from that that you would be happier
if Saddam Hussein were still in power. [Applause]
I wish you could have come with me in July when we visited a little
Marsh Arab village called al Amarah near the Iranian border. To
get there you have to fly over desert the size of New Jersey. It
is a man-made desert, created by Saddam Hussein in the aftermath
of the Gulf War. For thousands of years it's been a lush marsh.
The Marsh Arabs are one of the oldest continuous human civilizations.
They had figured out how to get milk out of water buffalo by breeding
a new kind of water buffalo. It's not a small achievement. They
produced some very large percentage of the vegetables for the entire
country. They were peaceful people, but they also provided a refuge
for the rebels that Saddam Hussein feared. So in the true traditions
of Nebuchadnezzar, he simply proceeded to wipe them out by drying
them out, by creating an environmental catastrophe.
There were half a million Marsh Arabs in 1991. The estimates today
are somewhere between 40,000 and 200,000. When we got off the helicopters,
the population was overwhelmingly women and children. The children's
hair had that ugly rusty color that indicates severe malnutrition.
But they were smiling and cheering and saying "Thank you Bush", "Down
with Saddam" and finally hopeful that they might have a future.
For most of the Marsh Arabs liberation was too late, but for those
people it came just in time. I think you ought to think about that.
They're innocents as well. Far, far more innocent.
This has been a war that's been -- War is an ugly business. It
is a brutal business. And a lot of those innocents died, by the
way, because Saddam Hussein put his weapons in hospitals and other
places. But it's ugly and it's brutal. But the alternative was
far, far uglier, far more brutal. There's no question about that
in my mind. [Applause]
Q: I'd just like to say that people like Ruthy and myself have
always opposed Saddam Hussein, especially when Saddam Hussein was
being funded by the United States throughout the '80s. And -- [Applause]
And after the killings of the Kurds when the United States increased
aid to Iraq. We were there opposing him as well. People like us
were there. We are for democracy. And I have a question.
What do you plan to do when Bush is defeated in 2004 and you will
no longer have the power to push forward the project for New American
Century's policy of American military and economic dominance over
the people of the world? [Applause]
Wolfowitz: I don't know if it was just Freudian or you intended
to say it that way, but you said you opposed Saddam Hussein especially
when the United States supported him.
It seems to me that the north star of your comment is that you
dislike this country and its policies. [Applause] And it seems
to me a time to have supported the United States and to push the
United States harder was in 1991 when Saddam Hussein was slaughtering
those innocents so viciously.
Look, let's back up a little bit. You and I should both calm down
a little here.
Q: OK. [Laughter]
Wolfowitz: This is not ideological, I don't believe. I think it
is a moral issue. I respect the fact that you and the last questioner
have deep moral concerns. War is an ugly thing. I agree with that.
But butchers like Saddam Hussein are incredibly ugly.
I've known a lot of dictators fairly up close and personal. I
take some pride in having helped to get rid of Ferdinand Marcos.
I tried to get some changes in Indonesia and I took some pleasure
when President Suharto left. But to quote that famous vice presidential
debate, or to paraphrase it from a few years ago, Ferdinand Marcos
was no Saddam Hussein. Ferdinand Marcos was not responsible for
the deaths of a million Muslims.
I don't think there's much question here about the morality of
having gotten rid of that regime. I also think that it's worth
stopping and thinking from the point of view of the Iraqi people,
and I'm not saying that they're the ones who should vote in our
election. We should decide our president based on who Americans
think is good for the American people. But I have to tell you that
it sends a very unsettling message to Iraqis that our elections
might decide their future.
When I visited the city of Najaf in July, met with the town council,
and as I guess most of you, a well-informed audience know, this
is one of the two holy cities of Shia Islam. It was pretty remarkable
to be sitting with a town council that included one woman, a religious
cleric as the head, and about 15 or 16 professionals for the most
part in the rest of the group.
One of these professionals, I can't remember whether he was an
architect or an engineer, asked me a two-part question. Part two,
I'll start with, borders on the paranoid. He said are you Americans
just holding Saddam Hussein as a trump card over our head? You
may think that's paranoid, but if you'd been through what they
went through in 1991, the suspicions about our intentions run very
deep. The fear of what can happen to them if that regime comes
back is palpable and enormous.
But the first question wasn't paranoid at all. In fact it was
pretty sophisticated. He said what's going to happen to us if George
Bush loses the election?
I told him as best I could, and I still believe it, that at bottom,
no matter how partisan we get in our political debates, the American
people stay to a certain center. If you look at the perseverance
we had over many years of the Cold War, in spite of some pretty
fierce policy debates, the United States really did stay the course.
I think I did a pretty good job, maybe not of convincing him completely,
but convincing him that we were with the people of Iraq until they
I think this Madrid Conference sends a message that it's not just
the United States. It's 70 countries in the world. And the fact
that Najaf is now under the direction of a Spanish brigade with
a Polish commander probably sends a good message.
But I have to tell you that when they hear the message that we
might not be there next year they get very scared, and that fear
leads them not to give us information about where the bad people
are. It leads them not to want to serve on the town councils. It
leads them not to want to risk their lives as policemen.
There are thousands of Iraqis right now who are risking their
lives for future freedom for that country, and I think it would
be good if they got an unequivocal message of support from this
country. Thank you. [Applause]
Q: I'm a second year student in the securities studies graduate
program here. My question is in the PBS Frontline documentary,
Truth, War and Consequences that aired this October and that you
can see on their web site, a U.S. tank crew comes across a few
men and a boy who had stolen a few pieces of wood. The U.S. soldiers
made the men and the boy step aside, then they opened fire on the
car with handguns for fun before running it over twice with their
tank. One of the soldiers then said something along the lines of
this is what happens when you loot.
It turns out that the driver of the car was a taxi driver and
the car was his only means of making a living.
My question is, will you make a personal commitment here today
to look into this incident and see that the soldiers involved are
punished and the owner of the car given a new vehicle and other
Wolfowitz: We are looking into it. Mistakes, pretty ugly mistakes
can get made in wartime. That is, again, one of the reasons why
if you can find a peaceful way to resolve things it is so much
I would remind everybody here, I don't think you need much reminding,
it wasn't so long before that incident when people were saying
why don't you shoot a few looters in Baghdad because this looting
is causing terrible disruption, it's causing the looting of the
National Museum, although that begins to look as though it may
have been a different kind of activity. Looting has been a serious
problem. I don't know what mistakes, why those mistakes were made
in the particular incident that you described.
I do know that the best way to change that situation is not to
put more American troops into Iraq to deal with the security problems
there. It's to get more and more Iraqis on the front lines. They
are much less likely to make those mistakes, and if they do make
those mistakes it's an issue, not between the United States and
the Iraqi people, but between Iraqis.
That was a legitimate question and we're looking into it. Thank
Q: I hope the press holds you to it. [Applause]
Voice: Mr. Secretary, thank you not only for your statements,
but most particularly for engaging in this conversation with our
Let me now in closing this, ask Dean Galucci to present the Oscar
Iden plaque, which states, "This plaque is presented in appreciation
to the 24th Oscar Iden lecturer, Paul D. Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary
of Defense." [Applause]