Iraq - Paul Wolfowitz
I was reading a piece by Stephen Hayes in The Weekly Standard
the other day and he noted a speech Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul Wolfowitz gave this past February to a group of 300 Iraqi
Americans in Dearborn, Michigan. After looking it up, I submit
the following excerpts primarily for my European readers, as
well as those in the Middle East, who still doubt the intentions of
the Bush Administration.
Let me start our discussion by focusing briefly on five subjects.
First, what are the principles that should shape the future of a
post-Saddam Iraq? Principles that can be broadly agreed upon
by the Iraqi people themselves, by the United States, and by the
broader international coalition?
Second, what are some of the key issues that the Iraqi people will
face in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s regime? And how
can the international community assist Iraqis to answer those
questions which Iraqis must answer for themselves?
Third, what kinds of assistance should the international
community be prepared to provide to meet the immediate needs
of the Iraqi people?
Fourth, perhaps most important, can democracy take root in Iraq
and how will it do so?
And fifth (how) Iraqi-American citizens and Iraqis who have
recently immigrated to the United States can assist the U.S.
government and the coalition in the aftermath of a forcible
removal of the Saddam Hussein regime should it come to that.
Let me summarize the principles that the U.S. government is
applying in thinking about a post-Saddam Iraq
(First) the United States seeks to liberate Iraq, not to occupy
Second, Iraq must be disarmed of all weapons of mass terror,
weapons production capabilities and the means to deliver such
weapons. This is a complex and dangerous task for which
detailed planning is already underway.
Third, we must eliminate Iraq’s terrorist infrastructure.
Fourth, Iraq must be preserved as a unified state with its
territorial integrity intact.
And fifth, with our coalition partners we must help the Iraqi
people begin the process of economic and political
Those are principles that define American policy
But there are other issues that really have to be answered by
Iraqis, that cannot be answered by others. In moving toward that
goal Iraqis themselves must answer such questions, and this is
just a partial list. About democratic institutions. And keep in
mind that democratic institutions are not just about free elections
but about securing individual freedom and equal justice under
A second important set of issues, recognizing that democratic
institutions cannot come into being overnight, is to figure out
how quickly the transition to democratic government should take
place and in what stages.
A third important question, how can Iraqis ensure the unity and
territorial integrity of Iraq while providing the appropriate level
of self-government? For those of you who know American
history, you know that this was a challenge our country faced
more than 200 years ago
Fourth how do you strike a balance between the need to
account for past injustices and the need to avoid creating new
animosities and new sources of conflict?
The answers to these questions are not for America nor for the
international community to dictate. Iraqis need to answer them
If the President decides it is necessary to use force let me assure
you once again that the United States will be committed to
liberating the people of Iraq, not becoming an occupation force.
And as Secretary Rumsfeld elaborated further “If the United
States were to lead an international coalition in Iraq, and let there
be no doubt it would be a very large one, it would be guided by
two commitments,” the Secretary said. “These two
commitments are that we would stay as long as necessary and
leave as soon as possible.”
(And) let me raise the issue of democracy and whether
democracy is possible in Iraq. There are some who ask that
question, is democracy possible in Iraq and the answer is no.
They doubt that democracy could ever take root anywhere in the
Arab world. I think they’re wrong and let me give you my
response, but when you get a chance I hope you’ll give us yours.
First, look to the people of Northern Iraq. Beyond the reach of
Saddam Hussein and his regime for more than a decade they
have shown a remarkable ability to manage longstanding
differences and to develop relatively free and prospering
societies, even though they labor under the same economic
sanctions that are supposed to cause so much misery in the rest
of the country and even though they live in constant threat from
As you know, the values of freedom and democracy are not just
Western values or European values, they are Muslim and Asian
values as well. Indeed, they are universal values. They are the
bridge that span civilizations.
[Wolfowitz then issued a plea for Iraqi-Americans to participate
in the rebuilding of Iraq through the various initiatives that have
Let me conclude if I might by quoting from a speech that I
quoted from not long ago in New York by a man probably
known to many of you, Barham Salih, a very brave and
distinguished Iraqi Kurdish leader who spoke recently about the
dream of the Iraqi people. He said, and I quote, “In my office in
Sulimaniyah I meet almost every day some traveler who has
come from Baghdad or other parts of Iraq. Without exception
they tell me of the continuing suffering inflicted by the Iraqi
regime and the fearful hope secretly nurtured by so many
enslaved Iraqis for a free life, for a country where they can think
without fear, and speak without retribution.”
Today in President Bush we have a President who is serious
about that policy, serious about seeing the current regime out of
Baghdad and out of the lives of the Iraqi people who have been
made to suffer so much for so long.
The President understands Iraq’s present enslavement by fear
and he has spoken many times about the suffering inflicted on a
population by a man he calls a student of Stalin. The President
understands the hope of the Iraqi people and your hope.
You, Iraqi-Americans, can help the rest of America and the
world understand the suffering of the Iraqi people and most of all
help us understand the unrelenting fervor of a people’s hope for a
future of freedom and justice.
We may some day look back on this moment in history as the
time when the world defined itself for the 21st Century. Not in
terms of geography or race or religion or culture or language, but
in terms of values – the universal values of freedom and
democracy. We will remember proudly the part that you played
in defining this moment.
The moderator then asked Wolfowitz a question:
Secretary Wolfowitz, what you said was absolutely reassuring to
us. Iraqis have been bitten previously and have trusted and
things have not been delivered to them.
Considering the history of the United States government and its
policy in the area of supporting dictatorships, considering the
support of the United States government to Saddam Hussein in
the ‘80s, considering the turning of the United States’ backs to
the Iraqi people in their uprising and the resultant slaughter of
hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, considering the United States
turned its face when the Kurds were sprayed with chemical
weapons, considering the unevenhandedness and the dealing of
the United States with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, why should
we here, with all due respect, why should the people outside in
Iraq trust or believe what you just said or what the United States
Wolfowitz: Let me answer it this way. We could debate a lot
about history and I could disagree with some of the things you
say; I might agree with some of them. I would say you didn’t
point out some very important things we have done which I think
bear on the current situation.
Remember, it was the United States and United States blood and
courage that liberated the people of Kuwait. It was the Unites
States military that saved the people of Somalia from starvation.
It was the United States military that ended ethnic conflict in
Bosnia. It was the United States military and a coalition that
ended ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. It is the United States
military that led to the liberation of Northern Iraq and has
protected it since. And it was the United States military and
other countries and our President and a lot of other people, but
above all the courage of American soldiers, sailors, airmen and
marines that liberated Afghanistan. And that’s by my count, six
times that we’ve come to the aid of Muslim populations. The
Iraqis will be the seventh.
But let me say one other thing because I know there’s a lot of
history and some of it is personal and bitter. This is a time not to
look to the past but to look to the future. This is a time not to
talk about our differences but to pull together.
We have a President of enormous courage who says what he
means and means what he says and his word you can count on.
We have one of the most powerful military forces ever
assembled ready if the President decides they’re needed to do
what has to be done. And if we commit those forces we’re not
going to commit them for anything less than a free and
Hott Spotts will return next week.