Wolfowitz: Open Mouth, Insert Foot
Oh, man… I don’t even know where to BEGIN with this one.
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.”
Wait, it was for oil? How could that be? It was called Operation Iraqi Freedom, for Pete’s sake! The word “oil” isn’t in that name anywhere!
It’s a good thing that nobody who supported the war claimed outright that it had nothing to do with oil, though…
- Tony Blair: “The very reason we’re taking the action we are, is nothing to do with oil, or any of the other conspiracy theories put forward. It is to do with one very simple fact. I believe that we have to make sure that the will of the United Nations is upheld.”
- Richard Perle: “I find the accusation that this administration has embarked upon this policy for oil to be an outrageous, scurrilous charge for which, when you asked for the evidence, you will note there was none. There was simply the suggestion that, because there is oil in the ground and some administration officials have had connections with the oil industry in the past, therefore, it is the policy of the United States to take control of Iraqi oil. It is a lie… It is an out and out lie.”
- Donald Rumsfeld: “Nonsense… [The war] has nothing to do with oil.”
- Colin Powell: “This is not about oil. This is about a tyrant, a dictator, who is developing weapons of mass destruction to use against the Arab populations.”
… and those were just the ones I bothered to look up.
D’oh! Wonder what the justification for the war will be next week.
UPDATE: Well, it looks like Wolfie hasn’t completely lost his mind after all. The Guardian appears instead to have misquoted him. In the interest of fairness, here’s his complete quote as recorded in the official transcript of the event:
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.
Saying that we had much less economic leverage over Iraq than we do over North Korea is a reasonable statement — all those years of sanctions pretty much proved that. So it looks like I (and more importantly, the Guardian) owe Wolfowitz an apology.