Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community
We Can't Do It Without You!  
     
Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives
   
 
   Featured Views  
 

Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
 
 
Wolfowitz Has Moved on From Iraq
Published on Monday, December 19, 2005 by the San Francisco Chronicle
Wolfowitz Has Moved on From Iraq
by Helen Thomas
 
Paul Wolfowitz -- one of the chief architects at the Pentagon of the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- is a lucky man.

He doesn't have to worry any more about whether his past hawkish Pentagon policies were right or wrong or worth the human sacrifice.

Wolfowitz has moved on to become president of the World Bank, where his job is giving multibillion-dollar loans to underdeveloped countries.

In a formal speech at the National Press Club on Dec. 7, Wolfowitz wanted to speak about global poverty, not Iraq.

But Rick Dunham, White House correspondent for Business Week, who is president of the Press Club, did not let him off the hook during the question-and-answer period.

Tradition at a Press Club luncheon calls for members of the audience to use cards at their tables to write questions for the speaker and send the cards to the head table where the club president selects which questions to ask the speaker.

To avoid embarrassing guest speakers, some past Press Club presidents have simply ignored any written questions that put the speakers on the spot.

Not so with Dunham, who waded right into the Iraq war controversy, though the guest would clearly have preferred to talk about poverty in Africa.

How could Wolfowitz account for the American intelligence failures regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

"Well, I don't have to, and it's not just because I don't work for the U.S. government anymore," Wolfowitz replied. "I work for 84 countries," referring to the governance of the World Bank.

But even in his old job as deputy secretary of defense -- the No. 2 job at the Pentagon -- it wasn't his problem, Wolfowitz continued.

"I didn't have to. I was like everyone else, outside the intelligence community. ...We relied on the intelligence community for those judgments."

"So," he added, "the question is: How do they account for it?"

This has become a familiar refrain in the administration: Blame the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency and anyone else who agreed with President Bush that Iraq was a threatening demon.

Wolfowitz and the other leading neoconservatives who shaped foreign policy in the Bush administration had targeted Iraq early on and had set up their own special intelligence unit in the Pentagon. The unit was closely allied with Iraqi defectors whose goal was to depose Saddam Hussein so they could have his job.

A couple of months after the 2003 attack on Iraq, Wolfowitz gave an amazing interview to Vanity Fair magazine in which he said: "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction as a core reason" to attack Iraq.

That was smart and scary.

Wolfowitz also said in the interview that a "huge" result of the war was that the United States could withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia, where the kingdom's rulers were under intense pressure from Islamic radicals to get American forces out of the country.

Wolfowitz will be long remembered for his ridicule of Army Gen. Eric Shinseki's estimate that it would take some hundreds of thousands of troops to pacify and occupy postwar Iraq. Shinseki was "wildly off the mark," Wolfowitz said.

For his departure from the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz script, Shinseki was forced into early retirement as Army chief of staff.

Wolfowitz also predicted that the U.S. troops would be greeted with "bouquets" of flowers from grateful Iraqis.

Wolfowitz, who escaped service in the Vietnam War with student deferments, told the Press Club audience quite accurately, referring to the Iraq war: "The real judgment of this is going to be the historical one."

For now, the Iraq war is no longer on his radar scope. It has become someone else's problem and he doesn't have to worry any more about the human cost or the damaged U.S. global image.

Wolfowitz might change jobs, but history won't forget his work as a leading advocate and architect of this terrible war.

Helen Thomas can be reached at hthomas@hearstdc.com.

© 2005 San Francisco Chronicle

###

Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
 
     
 
 

CommonDreams.org
Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.
Independent, non-profit newscenter since 1997.

Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives

To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.