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Wolfowitz Stakeout Outside Fox News Studio

NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense

DoD News Briefing Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz Sunday, February 17, 2002

(Stakeout Outside Fox News Studio)

Good morning.

Wolfowitz: Good morning.

Q: [Saddam] says that he does not have weapons of mass destruction. What's your reaction to that? Do you want to go in again with inspections and such?

Wolfowitz: I think it was very clear when the inspectors were there that he had weapons of mass destruction. You can read it in Richard Butler, Ralph Makais, they all say it, and we know he's been working on it since then so I think the answer to that is really pretty clear.

If he ever gets rid of them there will be ways to make sure of that. But the mere fact that he says it today I think just shows again that you can't believe him.

Q: Would you still, there's been talk of hitting Iraq. Would you still do it even though none of your main allies are kind of supporting it? The Arab world is not supporting it. Britain is kind of leaning both ways.

Wolfowitz: There's a lot of talk. I think the President made it clear just a few days ago that he has stated a problem, he hasn't made any decisions on what the solution to the problem is, but I think people who want to address a serious dialogue should say what do you do about the problem. To say that the answer is stop talking about it, don't call an evil an evil, we'll just keep sweeping it under the rug the way we've swept terrorism under the rug for 10 or 20 years, that's not an answer.

Q: So you would still do it even though you don't have coalition --

Wolfowitz: No, you're putting words in my mouth. We haven't decided what to do. In fact, I think what the President has done is given countries around the world an opportunity to talk about how to solve the problem. But if the answer that comes back is there's no problem, you Americans should just shut up and go away, that's not an acceptable answer.

Look, let me make a couple of points on this notion that we are unilateralists. We are very far from being unilateralists. The President is making a trip to Asia now to talk to two of our closest allies and talk to the Chinese about the war on terror and about longer term peace and security in one of the most important regions in the world. That is not unilateralism. That is the very opposite.

Look at what we're doing in Afghanistan today. There are actually more coalition forces engaged either with our central command or with the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul than there are Americans. There's a Jordanian hospital up in Mazar-e-Sharif that is taking care of some 8,000 or 9,000 Afghans by now, making a major contribution.

This is a coalition effort. We are looking for allies, we're looking for help, we don't think we can do all these things by ourselves and frankly, and this is the last point I'd like to make we don't believe we're simply acting on behalf of American interests.

When the campaign in Afghanistan began we heard a lot of talk about America's attack on Afghanistan. What is clear now is we weren't attacking Afghanistan, we were attacking the Taliban who were themselves attacking Afghanistan. And what we did in that country was in fact for our own reasons to come to the aid of the Muslims of Afghanistan as we have in the past come to the aid of the Muslims of Kosovo and the Muslims of Bosnia and the Muslims of Somalia and the Muslims of Kuwait and the Muslims of Northern Iraq. It's an accident, I suppose, that six times in the last ten years when we've used force in our own interests, but it was also serving the interests of other people, and six times those people happened to be majority Muslims.

We are not unilateralists, we are not acting solely in American interest, and I think we deserve a little more credit for what we're doing.

Q: (inaudible)

Q: -- has not made a decision on Iraq, where is the decision [focused] right now? Who's weighing for and who's weighing against?

Wolfowitz: It's a very active process of consultation, of discussion among the President's senior advisors, and I think he has about as impressive a team of advisors as any President has assembled. We're listening to views from members of Congress. The President is obviously going to be listening to views from the leaders of Japan and Korea and China. I was over in Munich ten days ago hearing views from Europeans. And by the way, it doesn't mean we're going to agree with everybody, but there's a very active dialogue.

Q: Lockheed Martin (inaudible) yesterday in Mexico and they had mixed success, one (inaudible). Is that a setback for us or how do you think that is going?

Wolfowitz: When Secretary Rumsfeld restructured the whole missile defense program back about eight months ago he said look, we're making a mistake here trying to lock into a fixed solution that will take us to some structure 10 or 15 years from now when there's a lot that we don't know. We need to develop a program that exploits success and when there's failure we're going to recognize failure. In fact this year we killed the Navy Area Wide system which was one of the major elements of our missile defense program because it just wasn't working, at least it wasn't working at acceptable costs.

So this is experimental. I think people need to understand it's experimental. And if you're going to experiment, not every experiment is going to work. If every experiment works then we obviously aren't pushing the envelope hard enough.

So I don't take a setback in any particular test as -- You learn from those as well.

Q: (inaudible). Are you making progress there?

Wolfowitz: Look, you asked me are we impressed by the claims. I wouldn't say I'm impressed by them, but I certainly think it's a good sign that they're talking about arresting al Qaeda. It's a lot better than what they were doing a week ago when they were letting these people hide in Iran and pass through Iran. At least the words are right. I don't know if the music goes with the words. We'll have to see.

Q: (inaudible) in the future. (inaudible)

Wolfowitz: I think nothing is off the table and nothing is specifically ruled in either. Decisions about the use of force are decisions that are made -- about the use of American force are decisions that are made by the President of the United States. We remain concerned about any place in the world that harbors terrorists and that could become a sanctuary for the people that we are hunting in Afghanistan and elsewhere. So President Bush has said from the beginning and Secretary Powell, Secretary Rumsfeld have repeated it, that this is going to be a very long struggle.

I said just a few minutes ago at another location that I think we achieved some important successes in Afghanistan so quickly and so relatively easily that it's created some unrealistic expectations that soon the whole problem will be solved.

Al Qaeda itself, and that's only one of the terrorist networks in the world, is rooted in some 60 countries including our own. Richard Reed came within 30 seconds of killing a couple of hundred people on an aircraft. These people are looking, they've suffered a major setback but they're by no means defeated. They're looking for ways to regroup. They're looking for ways to attack again and it's going to take a long time.

Thank you very much.

Q: (inaudible)

Wolfowitz: I don't think that's even a minor effort. I think our commitment to south Korea is fundamental here and I think one of his purposes in going there, as every President who goes there, is to reaffirm our commitment to the defense of South Korea, which I also believe is the key to ultimately achieving peace on the peninsula and unifying Korea and that is another thing. For Koreans, it's like a deep tear down the middle of their hearts that that country is divided. It was unified for centuries. I think we all dream of the day when it will be peacefully unified again.

Thank you.


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