Skip to comments.The Guardian Pulls a "Dowd" - Falsely Attributes War for Oil Claim to Wolfowitz w/ Misquote
Posted on 06/04/2003 2:55:40 PM PDT by Stultis
Excuse the vanity. All the relevant information is in the following thread, but buried a hundred odd messages down. I wanted to post something with what you need to know right up top, without having to wait for the editorials to come out tomorrow.
Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil (RUH ROH!!) [The Guardian, 6/4/03]
Oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq, a leading White House hawk has claimed [...]. Paul Wolfowitz - who has already undermined Tony Blair's position over weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by describing them as a "bureaucratic" excuse for war - has now gone further by claiming the real motive was that Iraq is "swimming" in oil.
The latest comments were made by Mr Wolfowitz in an address to delegates at an Asian security summit in Singapore at the weekend, and reported today by German newspapers Der Tagesspiegel and Die Welt.
Asked why a nuclear power such as North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq, where hardly any weapons of mass destruction had been found, the deputy defence minister said: "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."
[The Guardian then procedes with pontification based entirely on this misrepresentation.]
So much for the Guardian. Now compare that with what Wolfowitz actually said (the except is from the Q&A):
Q: What I meant is that essentially North Korea is being taken more seriously because it has become a nuclear power by its own admission, whether or not that's true, and that the lesson that people will have is that in the case of Iraq it became imperative to confront Iraq militarily because it had banned weapons systems and posed a danger to the region. In the case of North Korea, which has nuclear weapons as well as other banned weapons of mass destruction, apparently it is imperative not to confront, to persuade and to essentially maintain a regime that is just as appalling as the Iraqi regime in place, for the sake of the stability of the region. To other countries of the world this is a very mixed message to be sending out.
Wolfowitz: The concern about implosion is not primarily at all a matter of the weapons that North Korea has, but a fear particularly by South Korea and also to some extent China of what the larger implications are for them of having 20 million people on their borders in a state of potential collapse and anarchy. It's is also a question of whether, if one wants to persuade the regime to change, whether you have to find -- and I think you do -- some kind of outcome that is acceptable to them. But that outcome has to be acceptable to us, and it has to include meeting our non-proliferation goals.
Look, the primarily difference -- to put it a little too simply -- between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage whereas the military picture with North Korea is very different from that with Iraq. The problems in both cases have some similarities but the solutions have got to be tailored to the circumstances which are very different.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz Remarks at the IISS Asian Security Conference (5/31/03)
Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Q&A following IISS Asia Security Conference
More Wolfowitz Transcripts
Once again, side by side:
Guardian: "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."
Transcript: "Look, the primarily difference -- to put it a little too simply -- between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil."
Of course this goes beyond the simple misquote. That might (if one was extremely charitable) be excused as a problem of translating from English to German and back. (The Guardian did publish before the DOD transcript of the Q&A portion of Wolfowitz' talk was posted.)
The real problem is extreme, blatant and willful (or shockingly ignorant) mischaracterization. The Guardian, in their lead sentence -- indeed in the first clause of the first sentence -- paraphrased Wolfowitz as having "claimed" that, "Oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq". As you can certainly read for yourself, Wolfowitz claimed nothing of the kind. Not on any reading. Not in any language. Wolfowitz was merely noting that North Korea is on the verge of economic collapse, that this would present a large and possibly intolerable problem for South Korea if the regime were to suddenly implode, and that the same problem did not apply to Iraq since it had plenty of hard currency producing oil.
Furthermore, the following transcript should have been available to The Guardian, wherein Wolfowitz explicitly and forcefully repudiates the position they attribute to him:
Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Media Availability at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo (6/3/03)
Q: I'm Satoru Suzuki with TV-Asahi of Japan. Mr. Secretary, eleven weeks have passed since the coalition forces moved into Iraq. Yet you've found no weapons of mass destruction in that country -- no convincing evidence yet. Given that, are you still convinced that you'll be able to find such weapons eventually and, in the absence of such weapons, how can you still justify the war, and what would you say to those critics in Japan and the rest of the world who've been saying that the war was mainly about oil?
Wolfowitz: Well, let me start with the last part. The notion that the war was ever about oil is a complete piece of nonsense. If the United States had been interested in Iraq's oil, it would have been very simple 12 years ago or any time in the last 12 years to simply do a deal with Saddam Hussein. We probably could have had any kind of preferred customer status we wanted if we'd been simply willing to drop our real concerns. Our real concerns focused on the threat posed by that country -- not only its weapons of mass destruction, but also its support for terrorism and, most importantly, the link between those two things. You said it's eleven weeks since our troops first crossed the Kuwaiti border, and coalition troops first entered Iraq, as though eleven weeks were a long time. Eleven weeks is a very short time. In fact, unfortunately, significant elements of the old regime are still out there shooting at Americans, killing Americans, threatening Iraqis. It is not yet a secure situation and I believe that probably influences to some extent the willingness of Iraqis to speak freely to us.
We -- as the whole world knows -- have in fact found some significant evidence to confirm exactly what Secretary Powell said when he spoke to the United Nations about the development of mobile biological weapons production facilities that would seem to confirm fairly precisely the information we received from several defectors, one in particular who described the program in some detail. But I wouldn't suggest we've gotten to the bottom of the whole story yet. We said, when Resolution 1441 was being adopted, that the most important thing was to have free and unintimidated access to Iraqis who know where these things are. Simply going and searching door to door in a country the size of the state of California is not the way you would find things. You would find things when people start to give you information -- we're still in an early stage of that process and there is no question we will get to the bottom of what's there.
But there should be no doubt whatsoever this was a war undertaken because our President and the Prime Minister of England and the other countries that joined with us believe -- and I think they believe correctly -- that this regime was a threat to our security and a threat that we could no longer live with. It is also the case that, beyond a shadow of any doubt whatsoever, this regime was a horrible abuser of its own people and that there is no question the Iraqi people are far better off with that regime gone.
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Credit actually goes to various freepers on the other thread.
Seriously though - there seems to be a full court press to destroy Wolfowitz. I hope it doesn't work, but I'm not confident.
You rock!!! The Guardian gets discredited ala. NY Times.
This will now be accepted as fact by every German-speaking person in Europe. Protestations to the opposite will require tons of proof and still won't be believed. Such is how it is these days...
Wolfowitz nennt Öl als Irak-Kriegsgrund US-Kongress soll untersuchen
Washington (Tsp/dpa). Der US-Kongress will klären, ob die Bush-Regierung die Gefahr durch irakische Massenvernichtungswaffen übertrieben hat. Der republikanische Senator John Warner sagte, die Glaubwürdigkeit von Präsident Bush, Außenminister Powell, Verteidigungsminister Rumsfeld und CIA-Direktor Tenet werde in Zweifel gezogen. Unterdessen erweiterte Vize-Verteidigungsminister Paul Wolfowitz sein Eingeständnis, dass Massenvernichtungswaffen nicht der eigentliche Kriegsgrund waren. Auf die Frage, warum man Nordkorea anders behandle als den Irak, sagte er in Singapur laut "Welt": "Der wichtigste Unterschied ist, dass wir wirtschaftlich einfach keine Wahl im Irak hatten. Das Land schwimmt auf einem Meer von Öl."
Im Fall Nordkorea setzt Wolfowitz auf die Anrainer
Auf die Frage, warum eine Atommacht wie Nordkorea anders behandelt würde als der Irak, wo kaum Massenvernichtungswaffen gefunden worden seien, antwortete der stellvertretende Verteidigungsminister wieder sehr offen: "Betrachten wir es einmal ganz simpel. Der wichtigste Unterschied zwischen Nordkorea und dem Irak ist der, dass wir wirtschaftlich einfach keine Wahl im Irak hatten. Das Land schwimmt auf einem Meer von Öl."
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