Wolfowitz Briefing with Iraqi-Americans
Wolfowitz Briefing with Iraqi-Americans
NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
Friday, March 28, 2003
(Foreign Press Center briefing with Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz and Iraqi-Americans Emad Dhia, Zakiya Hakki and Sam Kareem.)
Wolfowitz: I want to thank you all for joining us this morning and thank the Foreign Press Center for hosting this event.
As we speak, coalition forces are pursuing a difficult mission and --to isolate and end the Saddam Hussein regime. So far they've made good progress, and they've made good progress in spite of fighting an enemy that shows consistent contempt for the rules of war. Most recently, coalition forces have encountered squads who dress as liberated civilians, pretend to surrender, so that they can mount ambushes against our men. Those same squads shoot their own countrymen in the back or cut off their heads or cut out their tongues. These are not Saddam's martyrs, they are Saddam's executioners. I think the word in Arabic might be firaq el ee'dam , or Saddam's death squads, firaq el ee'dam .
As coalition forces continue to make progress, they are working extremely hard to protect the Iraqi people as they work to liberate them. The restraint that has been demonstrated in our careful targeting of our bombing is extraordinary and unprecedented in history. We are taking deliberate measures not only to avoid civilians but to avoid those installations that are critical to the functioning of Iraqi society. And at the same time, we are taking strenuous efforts to try to restore normal services, particularly food and water, to people in the southern areas that have been deprived of it. We've been engaged in active efforts to de-mine the harbor in Umm Qasr, so that relief supplies can be delivered. We've laid pipe up from Kuwait to deliver water now to the village of Safwan, and it will be moving north.
Despite Saddam's determined measures against Iraqi people, the bravery, the skill and the humanity, and the care for the innocent on the part of the coalition forces is extraordinary. And we are extremely proud of what our American military men and women are doing, and their colleagues from many other countries.
But another story brings us here today -- a story of why Iraq must be liberated and why it must be liberated now.
It's a story that's best told by Iraqis themselves, and today I'm pleased to have with me three members of the very vibrant and talented community of Iraqi-Americans.
I had the truly extraordinary experience of visiting Dearborn, Michigan, a few weeks ago, which is the home of the largest number of Iraqi-Americans, and met with several hundred of them. I heard one wrenching story after another about Saddam's systematic brutality. And while I could tell you some of the stories I've heard, we have guests here who can describe them in their own words. They can tell you why it is so important to bring an end to what one Iraqi writer called the "Republic of Fear."
Let me introduce our guests. They are, starting on my far left, Mr. Sam Kareem, who holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Baghdad, a graduate degree in computer studies from the University of Essex. He left Baghdad in 1982 for London and has lived in the United States since 1984.
Next to him is the Honorable Zakia Hakki, from Annandale, Virginia. She received her juris doctor magna cum laude from Baghdad University. She served in the Iraqi Ministry of Justice Circuit Court from 1959 until 1962, when she was removed because of her criticism of the war against the Kurdish people. She was placed under probationary arrest for over 20 years, until she fled to the United States and was granted asylum in 1996.
And on my immediate left is Mr. Emad Dhia, from Ann Arbor, Michigan. He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Baghdad, a master's degree in engineering from the University of Tennessee, and a master's of business administration from the Vanderbilt Owen School of Management. He left Iraq in 1982 and is a founding member of the Iraqi Forum for Democracy.
Be happy to take your questions.
Q: Umit Enginsoy with Turkey's NTV Television. Mr. Secretary, from this point on, is there anything that Turkey could do to make things easier for the coalition in Iraq, to make your job easier? And secondly, are you asking the Iraqi Kurds to keep away from Kirkuk and Mosul so that the Turkish army also keeps away from northern Iraq? Thank you.
Wolfowitz: Turkey is giving us a good deal of cooperation, particularly in facilitating very critical overflights into northern Iraq.
We're working jointly with the various Kurdish groups and with the government of Turkey to try to ensure that conditions in northern Iraq remain stable. And it is very important for Turkey and all the other neighbors of Iraq not to take this as an occasion for intervening in the internal affairs of Iraq.
At the same time, we have made it clear from the beginning to the government of Turkey --and, indeed, to the whole world--that our commitment is to preserving a unified Iraq, one that will be at peace with its neighbors and not provide -- be a threat to its neighbors. And I would say particularly not to Turkey, which is one of our oldest allies.
But I would say something else, too. I think the Turkish people probably didn't quite understand what was at stake here, and that not only is the action we're undertaking going to be something that will improve the neighborhood in the long run, but importantly, something that will greatly improve the lives of their fellow Muslims in Iraq.
And I might ask Mr. Dhia, maybe, if he'd just say a word, since we have a Turkish correspondent here.
What would you like to say to the Turkish people, since you have a chance?
Dhia: Well, the Turkish people are our brethren, they're our neighbors, and we have a very strong relation with the Turkish people and we share the same religion and we share a lot of our heritage. There is a lot of Iraqis related to people in Turkey, and we have excellent relations through this century and the century before. And we're looking for a future, a future in Iraq that maintains that relation and builds up on it, and we have a mutual interest in peace and stability for the whole region.
Wolfowitz: I might just make a comment -- and I do this with a little bit of hesitation -- I didn't say this in introducing them, but Mr. Dhia is a Shi'a. The judge is a Kurdish Shi'a. And Mr. Kareem is a Turkoman. But you notice, I think, that they have much more in common than these differences that seem to fascinate our press. They are all graduates of the University of Baghdad. They all believe in a unified, democratic Iraq. And I believe that their common understanding -- and I've seen this among many Iraqi Americans and other Iraqis outside of the country -- I think bodes well for the future of a unified country.
Moderator: A question for the Iraqis.
Q: I have a question for the Iraqis, but also a question for Mr. Wolfowitz, if you don't mind.
The question for the Iraqis, I was watching CNN the other day, and there was a person who introduced himself as a replica of Mr. Uday, Saddam's son. And this man made a point, which is that, yes, he is against the Iraqi regime very much and we wished that it would fall, like many people, I guess, in the Arab world, but he said that he has family in Iraq and he opposes the war because he does not want this bomb, you know, these tremendous bombs, you know, to fall on top of the heads of his own family in Baghdad. So, I just wanted to hear your kind of, you know, view about this -- your country being destroyed and your being happy with it.
And then the second question to Mr. Wolfowitz is that, you know, after the statements made by Mr. Wilson, the -- General Wallace, sorry, in -- well, a story and published in the New York Times, are you still going to repeat that everything is going fine and we know everything and everything's expected? Thank you.
Hakki: Well, actually, Saddam gave a speech in 1983. At that time, there was the war between Iran and Iraq and it was -- it climaxed at that time when he said that he will not give up Iraq land and people because he believes in torched land. And that's what he is doing now. Before he left -- last left Kuwait, he torched the oil field there. Now, he is doing same thing in Iraq. Also, now all -- he is the one and the only one who is responsible for all these casualties against civilians.
A couple days ago in Qadisiya residential, you know, area -- this is where I lived -- used to live there. I know what's there. There is the military air force, there is the Mukhabarat, which is the main office of the intelligence service, in the front of them. And at the back of them, it is the presidential palace. There is the headquarter of Ajaysha Shabi (ph) military -- militia -- (to others) -- what they call? -- yeah -- Ajaysha Shabi (ph). There is also the headquarter of the Republican Guard.
And you know, I am sorry to say that although I am not blaming the correspondents there, because I know if they will be fair, they will risk their life, because, you know -- or either they will kick them out of the country, if they will just look at the top roof of the buildings, of the houses, the mosques, the hospitals there, it is full of anti-aircraft and missiles.
Even there is -- we have the biggest -- we call it Medina -- (inaudible) -- which is the medical city, it is even -- there is rocket on the rooftop of that medical. Then what we expect? Of course they will return the fire, the casualties will be among civilians.
A couple days ago in a big market, there we found to be that there was a satellite, of course they are, you know, chasing -- where is the satellite? There was a big truck with a satellite TV inside, inside that market. And the casualties -- it is only this brutal dictator; he is responsible of all these casualties among the civilians.
Also, two days -- a couple of days ago, 500 of -- you know, Jabur tribe, they are not Kurds, they are not Shi'a; they are Arab and Sunni. They asked them to go to Kirkuk and, you know, to fight against the coalition. They refused. Do you know how -- which way they killed them? I have here this, you can find it in Arabic and in English -- by knife, by knife hand they cut them, 500 of those brave men.
This is a brutal dictator, you know. I cannot express how much he is brutal, this dictator, and his henchmen.
Dhia: Just one comment I have. The first is, nobody is happy or willing to see his family being bombarded. But also, the facts on the ground, for the last 23 years, 24 years, we have over 1 million Iraqis killed in two wars, and continuous brutality of Saddam.
The other fact, there is 4 to 5 million Iraqis outside Iraq. Now, you tell me why there is so many Iraqis outside Iraq, running for their lives and trying to escape the brutality of Saddam Hussein. These are the facts on the ground.
Iraqi people really need to be liberated from this brutal regime.
Wolfowitz: The other fact on the ground is the extraordinary care with which the coalition is conducting this military operation. If you looked at a map of Baghdad and saw where we actually have targeted, you would be astonished, I believe, at the huge expanse of the city that is untouched. That's why people go about their daily business. They go to restaurants. I don't believe the population of Iraq has too much doubt that what we're targeting are regime targets.
And I mean, as to the question about whether we're on schedule or not on schedule, a military plan is not a timetable. It is a plan for achieving an objective. It has contingencies built into it. Basically, I would say that on the whole, things, on the whole, are happening in some respects faster than we expected. One of the most important ones is that we were able to get substantial control over the southern oil fields before Saddam Hussein was able to create the kind of environmental disaster that he was planning to do.
We have in those contingency plans -- and the secretary will be briefing on them in much more detail at 1:15 -- we have anticipated a continuing flow of forces till this objective is achieved.
Moderator: In the center, right here, in the beige. Center, second row. Center of second row, beige dress.
Q: The lady.
Moderator: The lady.
Q: This is Nihal Saad from Egyptian Television. The question is for Mr. Wolfowitz. Let me go back to the comments of General Wallace in the New York Times and the Washington Post this morning. He was saying also that the enemy we're fighting is different the one we'd war-gamed against. And we hear officials -- Defense officials in the corridors saying privately that they have underestimated pretty much the resistance that they were going to face from the Iraqis. How would you comment on that? Thank you.
Wolfowitz: Well, I don't think you can say they underestimated the resistance or that the resistance is so stunning when they're so far into Iraq with basically a week into this war.
I think we probably did underestimate the willingness of this regime to commit war crimes. We knew about some of them. It is a war crime, by the way, to put antiaircraft guns on the top of hospitals. In spite of that, we're not going after those guns. We're taking risk for our own people. I don't think we anticipated so many people who would pretend to surrender and then shoot. I don't think we anticipated such a level of execution squads inside Basra. But I would not exaggerate the degree of difficulty that this presents. The ultimate end of this regime is a certainty.
Moderator: A question for the Iraqis, please.
Q: I have a question for the Iraqis. For the Iraqis, on the issue of resistance: Do you believe that the reports that were given by the Iraqi opposition that they will be greeted with -- you know, the coalition forces will be greeted with roses and welcomed into Iraq as liberators maybe was a bit exaggerated? That's one.
And to Secretary Wolfowitz, on the issue of bombardment of the capital, Baghdad: Former secretary of State Henry Kissinger was on Fox, and he said that the U.S. should not allow itself to be bogged down into a long siege and should use whatever means possible. Is he suggesting, or is there a consideration, or will the Pentagon consider bombing Baghdad relentlessly into submission?
There was also talk by the former generals, the pundits, on television saying that maybe they ought to use some sort of a chemical gas similar to what the Russians have used in the theater in Moscow. Will you rule that out, sir?
Moderator: Would you please identify yourself, sir?
Q: Oh, I'm sorry. My name is Said Arikat from Al Quds newspaper.
Wolfowitz: Sam, you haven't had a word yet. Do you want to answer this issue about liberation or pass it to one of your colleagues?
Dhia: I can answer if you want. Actually, the presence of the death squads inside the cities was instrumental in keeping people from welcoming the coalition forces that came to liberate them, in my opinion. I believe if those people, they have the opportunity to do that or the freedom to express their feelings, they would have done that. But the fact that those death squads are inside the towns, in civilian clothes, and holding the guns to the people, they've been entering houses, actually, pulling men from houses. Anybody refuse, they put a bullet in his head, in front of his family. So there is a lot of atrocity going inside these cities; and you're asking those people to come and cheer? They can't.
You can tell by the reaction of the people in Safwan city when they were liberated, you're seeing the people in the street, they were dancing; and one guy, he held his shoes and was beating Saddam Hussein's face in the picture. That is the real Iraqi feeling, because they felt they are secure and they are liberated enough to do that. And you will see that in other towns when they are liberated.
Wolfowitz: I'd just say, on the other point, that we have a capability which is extraordinary to distinguish between the military targets, that are legitimate and that are essential to prosecuting the war, and civilians. And we do not believe that threatening civilians is a way to achieve our strategic objectives. To the contrary, we think it's very important for the Iraqi people to understand, in the various ways we can communicate it--including by our actions--that this is a war on their behalf, not a war against them.
Q: What about the gas?
Wolfowitz: I think I've answered that question.
Moderator: Again a question for the Iraqis, please. And we have a lot of people here that want to ask questions, so let's stick to one, and for the Iraqis right now, please.
Q: Jim Lobe, the Inter Press Service. I would like to get an idea from the Iraqis, and then perhaps Secretary Wolfowitz would comment as well, as to why you think that the world, and particularly Arab populations, have reacted in a sense so negatively to this war by the United States, knowing as they do that Saddam is such a brutal dictator; and this general sense that the United States is acting as a very arrogant power, and how that -- does that hurt the cause that you're trying to convey?
And just to give one example, Secretary Wolfowitz told David Ignatius, quote -- a couple months ago -- "We need an Islamic reformation." And that's been cited as the kind of arrogant remark that has alienated the Arab world and much of the Islamic world. How does it affect you when such statements are made and such perceptions are so widely held in the Arab world, despite the viciousness and brutality of Saddam?
Dhia: I think one of the biggest disadvantages for Iraqi people, they don't have their own media. We don't have access to the Arab media. The Arab media actually wasn't fair to Iraqi people. When Saddam, he took 180,000 Kurds and made them disappear, you didn't see any news in the Arab media what Saddam is doing. When Saddam, he went in the south and he bombarded the holy cities, Najaf and Karbala, with rockets, you didn't see any Arab media reporting that. The Arab media, in general they are not free media, they are government media, and they are really supporting the regimes they are hired to serve, in my opinion. And unfortunately, they weren't impartial on reporting Saddam's crimes.
Moderator: Again for the Iraqis, please. Center back. Red shirt, coat.
Q: Peter Spiegel with the Financial Times. There seems to be some difference between the Iraqi expatriate population and actually Dr. Wolfowitz and some at the Pentagon about the role of the Iraqi expatriate population after Saddam is gone.
In recent days we've seen Mr. Chalabi and some of that group declare themselves sort of a government in exile. Can I ask what you see should be the role of the exile -- the expatriate community in a post- Saddam Iraq and, I guess, also to Dr. Wolfowitz, if it is unhelpful for the Chalabi group and whatnot to sort of jump ahead of what is going on on the ground?
Dhia: The Iraqi expatriates -- they really like to have a chance to serve the rebuilding of Iraq in the days after liberation. This is our ultimate goal. We want to have the opportunity to help in the rebuilding process and the reconstruction process of Iraq. And I mean it by all aspects, not only by the physical construction, actually; even the Iraqi humans have been under siege for 34 years.
So this is our intention, and we are willing to leave our families and children here in the United States to go into Iraq and help in the process. Once it is done, we come back here to our homes. But we are willing. We are really very serious about that, and we would like to have this opportunity to serve.
Moderator: Ah, yes. In the back.
Q: Yeah. This is Ana --
Wolfowitz: I'm sorry. Let me just -- there was a question to me. I'll just say, very briefly, I don't -- I'd seen some press reports of those comments. I don't know exactly what was said. I think the principle is very important and, I think, reasonably clear, which is that until the Iraqi people are free to express themselves, we can't know what they really think and what they really want.
And we're not trying to impose a government on the Iraqi people. We're not trying to impose a particular type of government. The word "democracy" gets used kind of freely, but if you look around the world, there is 75 different variants of democracy. I think the essential idea is that the government has to represent the people. It has to respect the people through the rule of law. It has to provide for their freedom. And I think when this regime is gone and Iraqis are free to express themselves, that process will take place in a natural way.
Q: To follow up --
Moderator: Ana? Ana?
Q: I am Ana Baron from Clarin. I was wondering about -- will you explain why the Iraqi people are not greeting the troops well or better? I was wondering about the commanders. There was talk that the Pentagon was in touch, in communication with the commanders of the army and that they probably could surrender or at least not do the fighting they are supposed to do.
So this is a question for the Iraqis.
Also, for Mr. Wolfowitz, if it is because of this non- surrendering of the commanders that you are now obliged to send more troops, and that a little bit the military strategy is changing and you need much more overwhelming military power than you did if the surrendering had occurred?
Wolfowitz: Let me take it first, and then pass it to the Iraqis, the issue about why people are not surrendering in large numbers yet. There's no change in the military plan. The military plan, from the beginning, has had a continuous flow of forces from the United States and anticipated that as our forces advanced, we would fill in behind them with other forces. The numbers have been -- inside Iraq have been growing since day one. The numbers coming into Kuwait have been growing since day one.
And what's actually astonishing is the speed of the advance and the fact that it has actually quite clearly left some large areas behind that are fairly empty. There's no change in the plan and there's no change in the objective, and we will achieve the objective, which is the removal of this regime.
I don't know if Sam or the others want to comment on what it takes to get an Iraqi commander to surrender.
Kareem: Well, it's the same thing that it's going to take the Iraqi population to surrender. They need proof that this regime would be gone forever, not like what happened in 1991. They revolted, but then the result was complete suppression of their revolt and we lost 300,000 people in the process. So this thing is still in their memory. Until the regime is gone, they're not going to welcome the U.S. forces, until they are very sure that it's gone.
And in fact, I heard a story yesterday about a lady who tried to greet the U.S. forces. They snatched her and killed her just because she greeted the U.S. forces.
Try to realize that if you have a gun pointed at your head, you're not going to go out and greet the U.S. forces until that gun is gone. Then you're going to go out and welcome the U.S. forces.
And I would like to add one more thing. This is not a fight between the U.S. and Iraqis, this is a struggle between good and evil. Thirty-five years of torture and oppression, and you still want us to tell you stories. I'm really surprised about this issue.
Moderator: (Off mike.)
Q: Andrei Sitov from TASS. The follow-up on that is, of course, whether you believe it is good for the U.S. government or the coalition forces, or for anyone, for the opposition groups like your own, to call for the people to have an uprising, say, in Baghdad.
And I also would like to ask Mr. Wolfowitz a question.
Q: For Mr. Wolfowitz, of course, from the point of view of international law, regime change is not a legitimate target of a war. The only legitimate are -- the only pretense at legitimacy here was disarming Saddam. And my understanding is you have not found anything so far. Many people here, even judging by the questions, have a sort of a credibility gap with the U.S. at this point. I've heard many people mention that even if you find such weapons, people will believe you've planted them. So, how do you cover that credibility gap?
Moderator: Is that to Mr. Wolfowitz? What was your first question?
Q: The first question was whether to call for the -- (word inaudible) -- uprising.
Dhia: I've got that. I can respond to this one here.
Moderator: Go ahead.
Dhia: Yeah. Actually Saddam, he tried to instigate an uprising. He has his Republican Guard wearing civilian clothes, trying to instigate an uprising and then crush it. So, he tried that. So, I think the uprising right now will be used while the death squad's inside the city and will be brutally crushed. And we're going to lose a lot of innocent lives.
Wolfowitz: I believe the international legitimacy of our actions is very clear. If anything, it's even clearer than the actions in Kosovo. There are 17 U.N. resolutions; they don't only apply to his weapons of mass destruction, they also apply to his repression of his people. I mean, if there's a legitimacy issue, it has to do with the illegitimacy of this regime, which has held one of the most talented populations in the Arab world captive for decades now. We are fighting a war -- our men and women are out there fighting for their lives, they're fighting to achieve a military objective. When that objective is achieved, then we can search this country, which I remind you is the size of the state of California, for weapons that have been hidden extremely carefully. Then we will have access to people who are free to speak and tell us where things are. We're not yet on a hunt for weapons of mass destruction.
Q: Michael Backfisch, German business daily Handelsblatt. Mr. Secretary, the president has said that the war against Iraq is supposed to be a signal of democratization for the whole Middle East. Does the administration intend to support democracy movements in the region? And if so, by which means?
And secondly, what are the intentions of the administration toward states like Iran and Syria, states which so far are greater sponsors of terrorism than Iraq?
Wolfowitz: I think this is a rather larger question than our audience here!
I would just say, I think the testimony of these Iraqis demonstrates in so many ways that Iraqi people not only have suffered for a long time, but they are incredibly talented. Their respective abilities to adapt to democratic life in the United States -- and I could cite dozens or hundreds or actually thousands of other Iraqis who have done the same thing -- gives the lie to this notion that somehow Arabs are culturally or genetically incapable of democracy.
I believe -- I was assistant secretary of State for East Asia. I began 20 years ago, in 1982, when Japan was the only democracy in East Asia. And I heard comments about Koreans aren't capable of democracy. Taiwanese aren't capable of democracy. The Filipinos -- really, Marcos is the best thing they can come up with. Well, Marcos left and things got better. Chun Doo Hwan left, and Korea now has a vibrant democracy. Taiwan is a vibrant democracy. Democracy is moving along in East Asia. It's been a long process--it's a 20-year process--and it's only half way or a third of the way there, but it's moving.
And I believe in a similar way, throughout the Muslim world and the Arab world, we can get that same kind of progress. And there's no reason not to be optimistic. It's not being messianic, it's having a reasonable, realistic sense of what can be achieved over a long period of time.
Dhia: I'd like to comment on that, please.
I think after what Iraqis have seen of dictatorship for 34 years, they know the opposite side of democracy very well, and they are now a real subscriber of the democracy, democracy as a way of living and as a way of government. We are looking for a government in Iraq by the people, for the people; a government its main objective is to serve the Iraqi people, and its main objective is to establish peace and stability inside Iraq and in the region, and has a peaceful relation with its neighbor based on mutual interest and respect.
Q: Excuse me -- Iran and Syria -- still unanswered.
Wolfowitz: It's in a larger context. It's the whole region. Every country is different, just as every country in East Asia was different. But what I think is not different is a, as far as I can tell, universal desire of people to manage their own affairs, to be free, not to be tortured, not to have their children tortured, and not to live under tyranny.
Moderator: Yes, ma'am? You had -- (off mike).
Hakki: Actually, we -- Iraqi people, they will be the one who will defend their democracy, because they are thirsty for justice. They are thirsty for freedom, for equality. And I am sure that they can, you know, elect their new government. So --
Moderator: Yes? Front row. Right here.
Q: Khalid Hasan, Daily Times, Lahore, Pakistan. Mr. Wolfowitz, you have been credited with being the author of the -- one of the authors of the plan which is now under implementation in Iraq. And considering that this war has divided your European alliance, it has -- universally it is condemned, the people in Islamic countries find this unacceptable, do you have any second thoughts on what you have believed in for a long time? (Scattered laughter.)
Wolfowitz: I'm not sure exactly -- you have these vague references, and there are so many things attributed to me that I -- many of which are simply not true. If we're talking about a draft that some staff member of mine wrote 11 years ago and appeared in the New York Times before I had even read it, I -- we can comment on that some other time.
If you're talking about my belief, which really began at the time of the Shi'a and Kurdish uprisings at the end of the Gulf War, that the Iraqi people deserve to be free, that Saddam Hussein would remain a danger to all of us, frankly that is a belief that at the time was shared by the Arab governments that had fought with us. And I remember listening to conversations between senior Arab leaders persuading -- trying to persuade the United States -- that we should in fact support those uprisings.
We're where we are today. The problem grew over 12 years. I believe the world will be a much better place when the Saddam Hussein regime is gone.
Moderator: Okay. Third in on the second row. Third in on the second --
Q: My name is Amal Chmouny from Al-Anwar newspaper, Beirut. Don't you think that the uprising doesn't take place because the -- that the Iraqi people mistrust the United States a little bit since what happened in 1991? And how do you think that this trust will -- you know, the administration should reestablish this trust among the Iraqis and the Arab people? And the question is for Mr. Wolfowitz or -- (off mike).
Wolfowitz: We understand very well why people facing the kinds of death squads they're facing -- or "facing" may not quite be the right word, because the death squads are usually in their backs -- why those people are going to be careful about committing themselves to liberation. If liberation hasn't quite happened yet. We believe when the regime is gone, people will believe us, that we mean it, and that that has been our goal.
We understand the history. We understand the caution it inspires and we're not going around encouraging people to revolt in circumstances where we can't assure their safety when they do. But there is no question about what the end result is going to be, and the Iraqi people and the world will be better off for it.
Moderator: Does anybody have anything to add to that?
Dhia: I will say the 1991 is exactly right. It was a sad and brutal experience, not only for Iraqi people, it was for Saddam, too. And he learned from that experience. And that's why we have the death squads going in the cities. This is one of the lessons he learned and how he controls the population in the cities. So, it worked both ways, unfortunately.
Moderator: Second from the inside here.
Q: Reha Atasagan from Turkish Public Television, TRT. Mr. Secretary, as the battle unfolds, you also would like to bring food, medicine, humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people. And the Turkish government, the Turkish military, also would like to do that in northern Iraq. Now that, you know, we are reading in the papers that it was a misstep which will cost highly for the U.S. side because they misunderstood the Turkish people, government, and it didn't work as the military -- from the military aspect as the northern front, but what about, you know, requesting help from the Turkish military, Turkish government, to bring humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people? That's what they want.
Wolfowitz: I think humanitarian aid would be very welcome from all directions. I don't think it's a military matter. In fact, Prime Minister Erdogan, when he was here last year, spoke actually very movingly about the economic suffering of people in southeastern Turkey as a result of the U.N. sanctions on the Baghdad regime. And the example he gave is a striking one. I think he said there are 50,000 -- or maybe it was more precisely 53,000 -- trucks with teams of three men each that had been basically left unemployed because of the sanctions on Iraq. If those trucks were put to use bringing food into northern Iraq. It would be a great boon. And there's no difficulty -- there's not a security problem, it's not a military issue. I think opening up the Turkish border and encouraging the flow of humanitarian supplies into northern Iraq would be very helpful.
Moderator: Third row, second in, hand up -- (inaudible).
Q: This is for Mr. Wolfowitz. Barrie MacKenna from the Toronto Globe and Mail.
Given, as you said, that in 1991 during the Shi'a uprising, that you felt that it was necessary to oust Saddam Hussein, you have been in this White House probably -- in this administration probably the official who has argued most strenuously, intellectually, for the ouster of Saddam Hussein. What personal stake -- personal stake -- do you now feel in this war and the outcome of this war?
Wolfowitz: This not about me personally, and I'm not going to get into a discussion about me personally. When all of this is over, we can discuss the history, we can discuss who had what views at what time. We're talking about something of enormous importance to the national security of the United States and, I believe, to the peace and security of the world and, as these people testify, something that's enormously important for the welfare of the Iraqi people.
Moderator: In the center? Yes.
Q: A question for Mr. Wolfowitz. I'm Cecilia Uden, Swedish Broadcasting. I wonder if you're still confident that the Iraqi experience will have a benign effect on the democracy movement in the broader Middle East after what is happening now, and if you're concerned that the anti-American sentiment in the Middle East, fueled by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, among other things, will hamper this movement to democracy.
Wolfowitz: There's no question anti-American sentiment is a problem and an issue. I think some of the people who stoke it should ask themselves why they do. I think there's no question that progress on the Arab-Israeli issue, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, would be an enormous boon to the entire Middle East, and it would certainly put democrats in Arab countries in a much better position. It's one of many reasons why we want to pursue that avenue. But I truly believe that it cannot but help democratic movements to see talented people like these people's countrymen and countrywomen free to demonstrate what Arabs can achieve, and I believe it will be pretty impressive.
Thank you. I'm going to have to go, but I think they can stay and take some more questions.
[Web version: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Apr2003/t04012003_t328dfpc.html]