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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How Bout That War

A while back I posted on the state of the war and the president's claims of continuous progress. I thought it might be worth noting something that I remember reading about Paul Wolfowitz back in 2002, before President Bush decided to invade Iraq. On September 22, 2002, the NYT magazine ran a profile of Wolfowitz titled "The Sunshine Warrior". The article was written by now-executive editor Bill Keller, and it is quite favorable toward Wolfowitz in both tone and substance (Keller even seems to accuse Wolfowitz of membership in the reality-based community: "his style ... relies on patient logic and respectful, soft-spoken engagement rather than on fire-breathing conviction.")

The money quote from this article is one that has stayed with me for nearly 5 years now, ever since I read it. I thought it would be worth reproducing here, given both Wolfowitz's role in the news recently and the debate over the latest bill funding the Iraq war. Here it is:

Wars that defend our safety may command a higher price. What price? Would the danger posed by a nuclear-armed Saddam be worth, say, the lives of thousands of American soldiers, if that is what the experts estimated it would take to disarm him by force?

Wolfowitz posed the question himself and answered no. Weapons of mass destruction would not be enough to justify the deaths of thousands of Americans.

Got that? Preventing a nuclear-armed Saddam wasn't worth thousands of American soldiers' lives. But wait....there's more:

And in any case, thousands killed would mean the mission had gone badly wrong. [Emphasis mine.]

So much for the continued progress constantly claimed by the President and his current advisers.

Finally, here's Wolfowitz in his own words:

"So if that's what you estimate the costs of action to be, then you have to have something more on the other side of the ledger than just the possession of weapons of mass destruction,'' he wrote. Whether that ''something more'' that would justify that greater sacrifice meant evidence that Iraq was on the verge of using its weapons, or the prospect of establishing Iraq as an outpost of democracy, or a smoking gun tying Iraq to Sept. 11, he did not specify. ''In the end, it has to come down to a careful weighing of things we can't know with precision, the costs of action versus the costs of inaction, the costs of action now versus the costs of action later.''

Small wonder Wolfowitz won't talk to the press about Iraq anymore.

Posted by Jonah Gelbach on May 30, 2007 at 11:41 AM | Permalink


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I think you're comparing apples and oranges, though: Wolfowitz always opposed a lengthy post-war occupation. So he'd surely agree with you that the occupation has gone badly wrong.

But as for "the mission" as he envisioned -- a rapid strike against Iraq, and quickly turning over the occupation to the Iraqs -- he's say that it was a success, at least until those hell-bent on lengthy occupation got their way.

Posted by: Adam | Jun 3, 2007 8:15:40 AM

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