|Wolfowitz Q&A At Georgetown University October 30, 2003|
Posted November 5, 2003
On October 30, 2003, US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz gave a speech at Georgetown University. In the question and answer session that followed, an exchange with a student condemning his policies occurred which received a fair amount of press attention. An attendee indicated that the student was reportedly very emotional and nearly on the verge of tears while Wolfowitz was said to be stiff in his response. MENAVista has obtained the following transcript of the Q&A session which is valuable for both the actual text of the sharp exchange with the student and the manner in which Wolfowitz expounds on some of his positions.
It began to look in early this spring as though we might once again be along 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 has certainly been a great setback and we've got to get it back on track
In every case we happen to have been advancing the cause of a majority of the muslim population, and Americans have died and been wounded for those causes. We also think we are 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 that one of the challenges you mentioned, trying to persuade people in the middle of wartime is a difficult thing to do. The action in Kosovo, even 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, and my friends in Indonesia who now are so critical of what we are 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.
You mentioned the Arab Israeli issue. that is obvious a
key. But finally, this particular battle of ideas ... is not only fought in news
media and newspapers and books and in public debates. It's also taught in those
madrassas I referred to, where poor children
So I think, again, education, but in a way that we never had to think about it so seriously 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 [...] 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 civil war. Persuading people in the middle of war is a difficult challenge. Success, though, at the end of the day also persuades people.
More and more Indonesians, I believe, are accepting that their country has a problem with extremism and terrorism and are 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 ... as 20,000. You can do the math, it's a tiny, tiny percentage of the two hundred million people in that country. But 20,000 people, and I don't think it's anything like that, it just takes a few dozens of 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 them.
I do think that the funding of extremism is not, though, just the 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, governors or perhaps even citizens, who 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. And 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 were 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 was anyone who called themselves a Marxist, whether they're democratic Marxist or not, were obviously wrong. The greatest enemies of totalitarian Marxism were the democratic socialists of Europe, and we learned to work with them. and 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 its an odd situation, despite, obviously, that both countries have a lot of money to pass around. But its an odd situation where some of my friends in Indonesia, who were 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. That the extremists can go around the world and get large quantities without any difficulty. It's not that lack the resources, we lack the means to pull through. And that's a challenge that we need to work on.
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. And I think you ought to think about that. Their innocence as well. Far, far more innocence. This has been a war that's been .. war is an ugly business. It is a brutal business. A lot of the innocents died, by the way, because Saddam Hussein put his weapons in hospitals and other places.
Its ugly and its brutal but the alternative was far, far uglier, far more brutal. There is no question about that in my mind.
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 a New American Century's policy of American military and economic domination over the people of the world?
It seems that the 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 visciously. Look, lets, lets, lets back off a little bit. You and I should both calm down a little here.
To quote that famous vice presidential debater and to paraphrase him 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'd 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
When I visited the city of Najaf in July, met with the town
council, and, as I guess as most of you well informed audience know, this is one
of the few holy cities in Shia Islam. It was pretty remarkable to be sitting
with the 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
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 heads?" You may think that's paranoid but if you'd been through what they went through in 1991, the suspicions of our intentions went 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?" And I told him, as best I could, and I still believe it, that at bottom, no matter how far it is we get in our political debates, the American people stay to a certain course. And if you look at the perseverance we had over many years in the cold war, in spite of some [...] fierce policy debates, the United States really did stay the course. And I think I did a pretty good job, maybe not of convincing him completely, but of convincing him that we were with the people of Iraq until they succeeded. And I think this Madrid conference, sent the message that its not just the United States, its seventy countries in the world, and the fact that Najaf is now under the direction of the Spanish brigade with a Polish commander probably sends a good message.
But I have to tell you that then 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 council, it leads them not to want to risk their lives as policemen. There are thousands of Iraqis who are risking their lives for a future of freedom for that country, and I think it would be good if they got an unequivocal message of support from this country. Thank you.
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