Remarks by deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz at the University of Georgetown.
Remarks by deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz at Oscar Iden Lecture series, Georgetown University Institute for the study of diplomacy.Body:
Mr. Wolfowitz: (Applause.) Thank you. As a few of you no doubt noted in the news, we had a fairly exciting trip to Iraq this weekend, and I'd like to give you a report. But before I do that, let me first turn to my old friend, Bob Gallucci, and thank you, Bob, for that very generous introduction. I'm reminded of what Lyndon Johnson said on a similar occasion, "I wish that my late parents could be here. My father would have been very proud, and my mother would have believed it." (Laughter.)
It's also good to see a couple of old friends in the audience, two very distinguished former ambassadors, Tom Pickering and Mark Palmer. And I'm not going to get myself in more trouble by recognizing more people, but I'm quite sure, looking around this room, that between former ambassadors and future ambassadors, there are enough people here to staff the foreign ministry of a medium-size country.
A few years ago, as Bob mentioned, I would not have been encouraged to speak at "the other school," as we called it. It's nice now that I'm recused and have no conflict of interest in speaking anywhere, and this is a great institution. I'm pleased to be here.
Actually, Bob and I have spent most of our adult lives in government service, as well as some long detours in schools like this, and very proud. I don't think there's a more honorable or, frankly, more rewarding career than to, as John McCain puts it, work for something larger than yourselves. The dirty little secret is I think we both started our careers in the national security bureaucracy in a now extinct institution called the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. And we both worked at the time on nonproliferation on the Korean peninsula. And I think -- Bob, I think you even did some papers for me as we successfully got the South Koreans to give up nuclear reprocessing. Bob did such a good job on that part of it, that I thought I'd leave the harder job of the North Koreans to him, and I backed out! (Chuckles.) But we've also both taught at Johns Hopkins. Most importantly of all, we were both born in Brooklyn back in the time when there was still an Ebbets Field and a Brooklyn Dodgers.
I am now in my third tour at the Pentagon. When I was sworn in by Secretary Rumsfeld, he said, "Paul, we're going to keep bringing you back until you get it right." (Laughter.) And I was tempted to ask him what, then, was the significance of his coming back for a second tour. But let's just say, if you've been in government for a few years, you learn something about dealing with your superiors. And the students at the School of Foreign Service will no doubt realize that that would not have been a diplomatic point to make -- or wise. Unless, of course, you believe that diplomacy is defined Brooklyn style, as turning on your turn signal before you decide to cross three lanes of traffic. (Laughter.)
I had a lesson in diplomacy which, unfortunately, is enshrined in George Shultz's memoirs, otherwise, I might not want to tell this story on myself. But I was able to accompany Secretary of State Shultz on his first visit to Asia, as secretary of State, in 1993. And I was the newly minted assistant secretary of State for East Asia. I had been in the job barely two months and, of course, I was eager to impress.
But the first evening, at a dinner in Japan, I encountered a challenge that I believed was super-human and certainly beyond my powers. Exhausted by jetlag, I had to listen to Secretary of State Shultz give the requisite toast at the end of dinner, which he himself in his memoirs admits was straightforward, if bland. (Laughter.)
For some reason, I nodded off, and quite dramatically, apparently, my chin hit my chest. (Laughter.)
Ray Seitz, another distinguished former ambassador, eventually, to England, passed me a note saying, "Rule number one for a new assistant secretary: Never fall asleep during the secretary's toast." (Laughter.)
Now, I was conscientious, and I was determined to take that lesson to heart. So, I asked Ray how he managed to stay awake. "Simple," he replied. "I have been sitting on my fork." (Laughter.)
Of course, none of this escaped Shultz's notice, and he's written it in his memoirs. And he concludes the account by saying, "Diplomacy is a cagey art." (Laughter.)
I'd venture that Bob and Howie would agree with that assessment, and I think that they can certainly appreciate from their present positions the art in another story that came by way of George Shultz that I used to tell when I was a dean.
Shultz was once asked, "What's the difference between management" -- after all, he had been the dean of the Chicago Law School; I think served in four different Cabinet positions, and he had been the CEO of Bechtel, a major corporation -- and he was asked, "How would you compare management in the private sector with government and academia?"
And he said, "Well, it's sort of like this. In the private sector, you have to be very careful what you ask for, because people will go out and do it, so you better want what you wish for. In government, you don't have to worry about that. You tell people to do something, check back two months later, and nothing's happened." (Laughter.) "But in the university, you tell people to do something, they look at you strangely, and they say, 'Who the hell do you think you are giving us orders?'" (Laughs; laughter.)
Well, now to be serious. I'd like to give you a report about my trip to Iraq. And I suppose I have to begin where the newspapers would always begin, which was Sunday morning, I was in my room getting ready for an early meeting, when I heard a loud explosion like something had gone off in the distance. A lot of people have asked me how I felt at the moment, and I have to tell you, you don't have a lot of time to think. But after you account for your people and do what you can for the wounded, our focus was on figuring how to get going about our business, because what we were there to do was important work. We had lots of work to do, and I was going to be damned if this act was going to stop us.
The strongest emotion came when I was told that one of the Army people working for CPA -- that's the Coalition Provisional Authority, headed by Ambassador Bremer -- that one of the Army colonels in that office had died.
I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, and anger. We learned later that Army Lieutenant Colonel Charles Buehring was killed in that attack.
Chad Buehring was an 18-year Army veteran. He was helping the Iraqi people by helping to build new media in that country. We deplore the act of violence that caused Chad Buehring's death. With gratitude we remember what he gave doing the work that he wanted to do. He died doing noble work on behalf of the people of this country and the people of Iraq, so that we can all be safer someday.
Sixteen people were wounded in that act of savagery, and I was able to visit the five seriously wounded in the hospital. Symbolically enough, it was a coalition: one British, four Americans; one military, four civilians.
I asked the British, a civilian from the Finance Ministry who had helped to produce Iraq's new currency that gets rid of the butcher's face -- I asked him if he was in a lot of pain, and he said no.
I said, "Either you're lying" -- another diplomatic art -- "or it's that British stiff upper lip."
And he said, "Well, actually, I have a lot of American blood in me also." And he was proud to be serving.
I talked to a State Department secretary who had just been there a couple of weeks, having volunteered to come from Guatemala, and asked if she was sorry she was there. And she said, "No, this is important work."
The one that I'll always remember the most, I think, was an American colonel, who was still getting oxygen when I came to see him and obviously in some pain. They lifted the mask so that we could talk, and I asked him where he was from. He said, "Do you mean where do I live, or are you asking about my accent?"
Well, I hadn't noticed the accent, but I said, "Why don't you answer both questions?"
He said, "Well, I live in Arlington, Virginia, but I grew up in Beirut, Lebanon."
And I asked him how he felt about building a new Middle East, and he gave me a thumbs-up and a pretty big smile for someone who was in that much pain.
And then he asked the nurses to prop him up and take off the oxygen mask so that we could have a photo together. And it's a photo that I will cherish as long as I live.
When it comes to acts of courage, we saw, in just three packed-in days in Iraq, hundreds of individuals performing acts of courage every day. We saw it in those five in the hospital, by their reaction and by their bravery. There wasn't a single complaint from them. Instead, they told me -- each one -- how proud they were to be there and proud of what they were accomplishing in Iraq.
They have a wonderful, defiant spirit. Their colleagues in the CPA were hard at work on a Sunday, even after that terrible attack which had touched hundreds of them and killed one of their number. We're proud of them, civilians and military, State Department and Defense Department and Department of Justice, and I could go on with a long list. People were wounded in that attack, not only from the United States and the United Kingdom, but from Kosovo and Italy and Nepal. They are all heroes, as are the Iraqis who are fighting with them for future freedom.
We went out later to inspect this devilish device with some 40 rocket launcher tubes in it that had been found not too far away. It was a true engine of death, which fortunately didn't function as well as its perpetrators had hoped, and it may very well be when we get to the whole story that, in fact, they were interrupted in the act of setting it up by two courageous Iraqi members of the new Facilities Protection Service, who were wounded when shrapnel from the blast hit them, bouncing off the walls.
But it's a reminder that it doesn't take very many people to mount an attack like that. We know it in this country. It took 19 people to kill 3,000-plus on September 11th. It took only two, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, to kill 150 people in Oklahoma City. Dramatic violence like that can not only grab attention and drive news coverage, but it can effectively obscure the larger picture, which is, of course, one of the terrorists' main goals.
I certainly wouldn't imply that the situation in Iraq is not dangerous. It is. Every single life that is lost, American or Iraqi or international partners, is a tragedy not just for the families of our service members, but for all those who serve. It is a very close community.
As the president pointed out earlier this week, it's dangerous in Iraq because there are people who can't stand the thought of a free and peaceful Iraq. The Ba'athists try to create chaos and fear because they realize that a free Iraq will deny them the privileges they had under Saddam Hussein. The foreign terrorists are trying to create conditions of fear and retreat because they are afraid of a free and peaceful state in the middle of that part of the world where terror has found most of its recruits. It is dangerous in Iraq because there are some who believe that we are soft, that the will of the United States can be shaken by suicide bombers. It's the same mentality, the president correctly said, that attacked us on September 11th, 2001.
Iraq is dangerous, but our troops and their Iraqi and international allies are making progress.
Monday morning, the Wall Street Journal had an editorial that observed, in my view correctly, that while the headline news was the attack on the Al-Rashid Hotel, the real news was that with Secretary of State Powell's leadership, 70 nations had assembled at Madrid and pledged billions of dollars to build a free Iraq in the future. That tangible support for Iraq proves once again that the investment in Iraq's success is not just an American investment, it is one shared by the entire international community.
And the attacks and headlines that we've seen in recent days should not overshadow some other things: the hundreds and thousands of Iraqis who are standing up to fight for their future; and the many coalition partners, some 31 nations and 23,000 troops, that are now fighting for the future of that country.
Last Thursday, we went to Iraq to assess that country's progress towards stability and democracy, and particularly to look at how we, the United States, with the prospect now of additional billions of dollars that was just approved by the conference committee of the House and Senate last night, can accelerate that progress and, I will admit, particularly from a Defense Department perspective, how we can get even more Iraqis on the frontlines fighting for their own freedom. And when I say "even more," let me say something because I don't think it's said very often, or noticed if it is said, that there are already more than 90,000 -- 90,000 -- Iraqis, many in the police, but many others in the border guards, in the Facilities Protection Service, in the new Iraqi army, and perhaps most promising of all, in a new institution that we started in July, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, who are literally fighting and dying for their own freedom.
Today, there is plenty of good news in Iraq, plenty of good news and hope for the future among one of the most intelligent and able populations in the Middle East. Reports from the World Bank meetings in Doha a few weeks ago with members of the new Iraqi cabinet said this may be one of the most talented and capable cabinets in any Arab country. Seeing the joy in the faces of people who have been freed from Saddam's republic of fear underscores the courage and wisdom of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair in acting to free those people from the ghastly prison in which they have lived for 35 years.
And it means that we will be safer eventually in this country too.
It's no surprise that the progress that is being made is itself the principle target of an enemy, an enemy that does not stand and fight; they hit and run. In this, the holiest month of the Muslim year, they target progress in Iraq. They refuse to accept the reality of a free future. They take aim at the prospect of a county freed from their control and moving to become an Iraq of, by and for the Iraqi people.
As I said earlier, it doesn't take many people, sometime only one or two, to set a bomb that can kill scores or hundreds. That happened in the Shi'a holy city of Najaf two months ago, and it kill a very important Shi'a leader, Ayatollah Bakir al-Hakim. That was big news, but I believe the more important news was the aftermath and the incredibly restrained response of the Shi'a community to that shocking event.
Sunday night, I was privileged to have dinner in Baghdad with the younger brother, the last surviving brother by the way, of Ayatollah Mohammed Al-Hakim. His name is Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. It was an extraordinary three hours. It was impossible not to be impressed by this man's intelligence, his sense of humor and his understated courage. He is the last of seven brothers -- the first six, counting his recently martyred brother, who were murdered by agents of the old regime. They are among 63 members of his family who, he says, were victims of Saddam and his thugs.
Today, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim is a member of the new governing council of Iraq. And he said to me -- and he laughed when he said it -- that he did not himself want to become number 64. Anyone who can laugh at something like that has a strong sense of humor.
But most impressive was his humanity and the conviction with which he spoke of his and his family's commitment to religious freedom. He told about how his recently murdered brother had intervened with Iranian authorities in Iran to permit Iraqi Christian prisoners of war to assemble to celebrate Christmas, and how his brother, a senior Shi'a cleric, had joined them for Christmas.
When his brother died, hundreds of Christians came by to pay condolences, many of them weeping inconsolably. As Abdul Aziz al- Hakim observed to me on Sunday, quite shrewdly, it might be possible for a few of them to have been pretending, but certainly not all.
He then went on to talk about their late -- how their late father is described in the history of modern Iraq as having defended the Jews of Iraq, even after 1967, when it became particularly difficult and dangerous. This man clearly comes from a family that boasts of courage and tolerance, and he stands firmly in their tradition.
Now let me hasten to add, before I once again get unfairly accused of painting rosy scenarios, that I don't believe that the person I talked to was necessarily a saint or that I can judge everything from a three-hour dinner. I don't necessarily know that everyone in his organization shares the views that he expressed to me. And I imagine, if we probe deeper, that he and I would disagree, just as he would disagree with many Americans, about some important questions about the role of religion in society or the role of women in society. It's not perfect. But with leaders like that, particularly coming from the Shi'a clerical community, which so many people have told us we have so much to fear from, I think, in fact, there's strong reason to be hopeful.
We went to the predominantly Shi'a town of Hillah in the South, which is known, among other things, for being the site of one of the most horrible of the scores of mass graves that have been discovered since the fall of Baghdad. We met with some amazing women who were organizing a center for women's rights; the majority of them, I would say, or at least a great many of them, in traditional Muslim dress. I was particularly taken with one young woman who stood up, dressed quite traditionally, and asked me what we would do to support women's rights in Iraq. And I was also struck by her forthrightness when I turned the question around and asked her if there was any contradiction between her conservative dress and her feminist stand. And she said, with enormous conviction, "There is no inconsistency between my religion and human rights and rights for women."
We also saw courage among those in that same town who were organizing a center for human rights in a country where those rights have been systematically trampled by a sadistic and evil regime for 35 years.
Then we visited Kirkuk, a very different city, in northern Iraq, with a very diverse population of Kurds and Arabs and Turkoman and Christians, and we went on a foot patrol through a crowded part of the city with some of our soldiers. In the marketplace, which is full of life and commerce, crowds gathered and enthusiastically shouted their thanks; their thanks to the coalition and their hatred of Saddam Hussein. One cute young girl who identified herself as an Arab looked me in the eyes and said, "Saddam is a donkey," to the applause of a group of mostly Arab men that were surrounding us at that point. But these crowds were a mixture of Kurds and Arabs and Turks, and despite some of the ethnic tensions that we know are simmering beneath the surface and that are a serious danger, Kirkuk so far has proceeded peacefully with a very ethnically-mixed population.
There was a money changer sitting at a card table. When he saw us, he held up one of the old pieces of Iraqi currency with Saddam Hussein's face on the bill, and he tore the bill apart with a big smile on his face. It probably wasn't worth very much, anyway, but he enjoyed it. And he had reason to enjoy it, because aside from the progress we're making to introduce a new Iraqi currency, now he can tear up Saddam's picture whenever he wants to. He could tear up anyone's picture.
Under the old regime, that act of defiance could have cost him his life. Now it just costs him a bank note.
In many other instances, we observed palpable hatred for Saddam Hussein and the remnants of his old regime. But even more striking than the enthusiasm we encountered was to see these ethnically mixed crowds thronging together in apparent and evident tranquility. And again, I don't mean to say there couldn't be trouble; we're very much concerned about that potentially volatile mix. But so far it's been a good story.
And I think one of the reasons it's been a good story was revealed to us when we met at the newly opened museum with a group of religious clerics. One, an Arab, who said he spoke for the entire group, urged us to wait until Iraq's new government is fully established before withdrawing our troops. But it was a mixture around that table. There were Sunni clerics and a few Shi'a clerics. There were Arabs. There were Kurds. There were Turkoman. Obviously no Christians; it was Muslim group, but very respectful of one another and very appreciative of the work they were doing with Colonel Mayville of the 173rd Light Infantry Brigade and a wonderful British woman named Emma Sky, who is the coalition representative in Kirkuk.
In Saddam's own hometown of Tikrit, we saw the progress being made on building that Iraqi Civil Defense Corps that I mentioned earlier. I believe Iraqi security forces are going to be central to Iraq's ability to govern itself. And despite the limitations that you could see in their training and their equipment -- they're still forced, by the way, though hopefully now, with this new supplemental, this is a problem we can fix -- they're still forced to wear the uniforms of the old Iraqi army, with a patch that says "Iraqi Civil Defense Corps" pasted over it.
Down in the South, in one of the towns near Hillah, this proved to be so disruptive, it was a near riot among the Civil Defense Corps people. So they somehow scraped around and found some kind of new uniform. Up in Tikrit, they were still wearing the old ones, and resentful about it. We'll fix that.
They only get about three weeks of training before they're put into units. But most of these young men have been trained before, in the old Iraqi army.
And despite their limitations in training and equipment, these Iraqi forces have some advantages that our brave soldiers, with the best training and equipment in the world, will never have. These Iraqis speak the language. They know the neighborhoods, and they can read the culture. They gather intelligence just by walking down the street. And if it becomes necessary to enter a sensitive site, like a mosque, as has happened within the last few weeks in the Al-Rashid district of Baghdad and then later in Karbala, it's been Iraqi forces that have done it.
And that, as I'm sure all of you can understand, is a huge advantage.
This training program I believe is a model for the future Iraqi security forces. The numbers keep growing. At least 90,000 people are now in those various elements -- the police, the Civil Defense Corps, the Facilities Protection Service, the new Iraqi army, and the border guards. They are fighting; they are sometimes dying. In fact, as many Iraqis -- not as many, but more than 80 Iraqis have died fighting for their country since the first of June, which makes them, not only in their numbers, but unfortunately their causalities, by far the second-largest member of the coalition. And they're making a difference.
We visited the police station out -- I think it's called the Jedeedah (ph) police station, in southern Baghdad on Sunday, and met with this remarkable man who I had met in July when he was the head of the Police Academy. He's now the deputy superintendent of police in Baghdad. Very proud of the work he's doing, and he has every reason to be proud, because the following day, when a Yemeni suicide bomber, carrying a Syrian passport, attempted to attack that police station, Iraqis stood and fought, and they stopped the attack and they captured the bomber.
All of these important local developments are taking place against the backdrop of important international developments. Even though the terrorists have done their best to distract the world, the donors conference in Madrid last week made international headlines, as it should have. The international consensus seen at Madrid was consistent not only with the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1441 last year, but also of Resolution 1483, which lifted sanctions on Iraq back in May, and earlier this month, of Resolution 1511. President Bush and Secretary of State Powell have placed a high priority on reaching that third postwar resolution, which spelled out an international consensus for how to move forward in Iraq and to establish a multinational force in Iraq under U.S. command.
In addition to those resolutions, 90 countries have contributed troops, treasure and other material support. The truth is, this government, our government, has pursued a consistent policy of working with allies and partners in a way that I like to call "intelligent multilateralism." It certainly doesn't make sense to talk about unilateralism anytime, and certainly not now. Not just because of the consensus reached at Madrid and the United Nations, but also because our enemies have clearly defined this as a war with the international community, with everything that represents the rule of law, whether it be multinational forces, Iraqi civilians, the U.N. headquarters, or the International Red Cross.
This is a great venture which the international community will one day be able to look back at with pride, and that is what we all want to see.
I think the question about multilateralism always has to be, "Multilateralism for what?" We turn to multilateral means to achieve goals that are common to the international community. And you need look no further than the U.S. Security Council resolutions on Iraq to know what those goals are. Those goals are totally consistent with America's policies and security needs, which are so often mischaracterized.
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 of ideas. 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 Conventions, 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 path 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 1 billion Muslims in the world.
They have not only declared war against Islam, but against the civilized world. We saw that on September 11th, 2001, when hundreds of Muslims were among the innocents who -- among the innocent thousands who died that day. I saw it firsthand 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 Shi'a 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, for 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 peace.
And 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 Bakir al- Hakim. Some speculated -- many here in the United States -- that that horrendous act would lead to attacks of Shi'a 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 arba'in pilgrimage. They behaved with remarkable calm and restraint.
I know from my own experiences that there is (sic) 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 voices.
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 job -- 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 extremist 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 madrassas 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 well-funded extremists.
We should do everything that we can to support those moderate voices and assist their courage in speaking out, and 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 their hand.
My own experiences throughout the years have taught me that when we appeal to and support those who advocate the values of human dignity -- (word inaudible) -- equal justice, respect for women and religious tolerance that President Bush spoke of in his State of the Union message last year, all the things that America stands for, things can, and do, change.
In my second tour in 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 the lie to those who say that Islam and democracy are incompatible.
There, 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 perfect.
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 to this conflict can only come through political means. President Bush has made it clear the importance that we attach to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. As the president has 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? Well, 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 road map 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 Ami 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 be isolated. 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. At one of those latter moments, Anwar Sadat addressed the Israeli Knesset in 1977, and he said any life, "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 on 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 case 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 more safely.
I'd like to close with one more story from my diplomatic years, if you'll indulge me. I think some of you know -- and Tom, Mark (sp) probably went through this experience -- when Secretary of State -- when George Shultz 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 how -- (chuckling) -- what close terms you were with your boss (sic).
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 interests, 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. Thank you. (Applause.)
Mr. Yost: Thank you, Secretary Wolfowitz, for those remarks. Let's move quickly to questions.
If you want to ask a question, line up behind the mike. Please keep your questions as short as possible so that we can maximize the opportunity for an interchange with the secretary.
QHi. My name is Courtney Radge (ph). I'm a second-year MSFS student. I'm going into international journalism. And I'd just like to 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. And I think that's a shame -- (cheers, applause) -- at a university like this, first of all.
Anyways, 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, et cetera. And I was wondering if this applies to Israel, as well. You have the chief of staff coming out and saying that the Israeli security policies towards 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.)
Mr. 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 president 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 -- (laughter). Very, very quickly. I believe there -- 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 (isn't ?) 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 right direction.
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 Taba to getting to that solution. It began to look in early this spring as though 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 months has 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 in different administrations, particularly wartime presidents, how would you assess 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?
Mr. 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 men -- 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 happened to have been advancing the cause of a majority Muslim population. And Americans died and (were) wounded for those causes. We also believe we're 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 is also fought in those madrases 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 terrorists.
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 them, 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 pesantren, Muslim-based boarding schools, had been a vehicle of giving poor children a chance to succeed in the world, and teaching them that their religion is a religion of tolerance, and teaching them to respect 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 just 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.
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 Wahhabi ideological influences. Should the global networks of Wahhabism be confronted as perhaps one of the, if not the core base of bin Ladenistic terrorism, and if so, how?
Mr. 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 -- 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 -- 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 it.
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 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. 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 thing they're completely different things. I think there are some similarities, and I do think that one of them was that during he Cold War, the people who said that the enemy is the left, the enemy is the anyone who calls themselves a Marxist, whether they're democratic Marxists 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 not made illegal -- (laughs) -- 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. And that's a challenge that we need to work on, I think.
Q Hi, Mr. Wolfowitz. My name is Ruthie Kaufman (ph), and 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 -- (applause) -- and the disintegrate of American civil liberties. 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. (Cheers, applause.)
Mr. Wolfowitz: I have to infer from that you would be happier if Saddam Hussein were still in power. (Cheers, applause.) I wish you could have come with me in July when we visited a little marsh Arab village called al-Amarah up 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 the 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 a 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. And I think you ought to think about that. They're innocents as well -- far, far more innocence. 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.)
Mr. Yost: We'll take two more questions.
Q I'd just like to say that people like Ruthie and myself have always opposed Saddam Hussein, especially when Saddam Hussein was being funded by the United States throughout the '80s, and -- (cheers, applause) -- and after the killings of the Kurds when the United States increased aid to Iraq, we were there opposing them as well.
People like us were there. We are for democracy. (Applause.) 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 -- (applause) -- the Project For a New American Century's policy of American military and economic dominance over the people of the world? (Applause.)
Mr. 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 comments is that you dislike this country and its policies. (Applause.)
Q I am --
Mr. Wolfowitz: Let me finish. I let you finish.
Q Okay. All right, all right. Sorry.
Mr. Wolfowitz: And that 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 wasslaughtering those innocents so viciously.
Look, let's back up a little bit. You and I should both calm down a little here.
Q Okay. (Laughs.) (Laughter.)
Mr. 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 change 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 in -- as I guess most of you well-informed audience know, this is one of the two holy cities of Shi'a 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 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 heads?" 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?" And 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. And 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. 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 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 council, 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 a 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 Hi. I'm a second-year student in the Security Studies graduate program here. And my question is, in the PBS "Frontline?" documentary, "Truth, War and Consequences," that aired this October, and that you can see on their website, 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 make the men and the boys step aside, then they open fire on the car with handguns for fun, before running it over twice with their tank. One of the soldiers then says 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 compensation?
Mr. Wolfowitz: We are looking into it. And 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 better.
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 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 describe. 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 frontlines. 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.
So, it's a legitimate question and we're looking into it. Thank you.
Q I hope the press holds you to it. (Applause.)
Casimir Yost (?) (director, Institute for the Study of Diplomacy): Mr. Secretary, thank you not only for your statement, but most particularly for engaging in this conversation with our students.
[Source: Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. Department Defense Briefing, Federal News Service, Washington, 30Oct03]
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