SPADES | politicians

PAUL WOLFOWITZ: 9 of spades
(CH) (what do these signs mean?)

Neoconservatives made quite a name for themselves with their claims to brilliance and disdain for anyone who disagreed with their point of view. Their egos gave us a war under false pretences. Their errors and lies over why we needed to attack Iraq were reinforced by their fantasies of what would happen next. For example, Paul Wolfowitz, Fantasist in Chief and Deputy Defense Secretary, told the Veterans of Foreign Wars that ruling Iraq would be like ruling liberated France after World War II.


He got that one pretty much wrong, and a lot of people are dead as a consequence. Trudy Rubin reported that the Pentagon was unprepared for the aftermath of the invasion was because "top officials convinced themselves that the aftermath would be easy - and cost-free." Rubin reported that "Back in November, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told me he believed that the London-based Iraqi opposition (headed by Ahmad Chalabi) would return to Baghdad and assume the reins of power, just as Gen. Charles DeGaulle and the Free French returned triumphantly to postwar France" We will pay the price for his arrogance for a long time.


Wolfowitz's poor judgment is at least partly responsible for the fact that American troops in Iraq are spread as thinly as they are. When General Eric Shineski, a veteran of extended peacekeeping missions, said we would need several hundred thousand troops in occupied Iraq, Wolfowitz countered "It's hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself. . . Hard to imagine."

The Washington Post

We do not have enough troops in Iraq today to even guard all the ammunition depots Saddam constructed, and the unguarded ones offer many weapons to those who would attack and kill American troops. This should have come as no surprise. The Washington Post reports that before the invasion "U.S. intelligence agencies were persistent and unified in warning the Defense department that Iraqis would resort to 'armed opposition' after the war was over." The CIA in particular, argued "that reconstruction rather than war would be the most problematic segment of overthrowing Saddam" according to a senior administration official in the Post report.

The Washington Post

Wolfowitz's failure of imagination may be due to his lack of any real experience with genuine defense issues more complicated than back room politicking and academic conferences. Ignorance combined with disdain for generals and intelligence agencies who saw things differently opened the door to errors that in retrospect seem obvious - because they were obvious to competent experienced people. Like so many other neoconservative leaders, like Cheney, Kristol, and Perle, when he had the opportunity to defend his country in uniform, Wolfowitz found he had far more pressing commitments. But this particular chicken hawk makes up for his absence then by being among the most enthusiastic for others to defend their country in uniform now. He reportedly pushed for attacking Iraq within days of 9-11.


Giving orders in a war is so much more exciting than taking them. Unfortunately, the orders were often incompetent.

Wolfowitz apparently also hates intelligence data that didn't fit his preconceptions. Because the CIA didn't tell him what he wanted to hear. So, in October 2001, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith set up a special operation in the Pentagon to "think through how the various terrorist organizations relate to each other and ... state sponsors," in Feith's words.

Wolfowitz had plenty of previous experience pressuring intelligence agencies to tell him what he wanted to hear, facts be damned. In1976, he helped criticize and intimidate the CIA over its supposedly too low estimates of Soviet military strength. Shortly afterwards the Soviet Union collapsed. But this didn't deter Wolfowitz's confidence in his own brilliance and other people's lack of it.

In the months leading up to our attack on Iraq, Wolfowitz and the other hawks were outraged at Hans Blix's failure to uncover Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. After all, they knew they were there, so anyone failing to find them had to be incompetent. According to The Washington Post, in early 2002 Wolfowitz ordered a CIA report on Blix. The report didn't contain any damning details, causing Wolfowitz reportedly "hit the ceiling." Again, reality was inferior to Wolfowitz's brilliance, at least in his own eyes.


Wolfowitz's hobbyist's love of things military perhaps caused him to argue as long ago as 1992 for pre-emptive strikes and military domination of the world. (Harper's Magazine, October, 2002). He backed our pulling out of the Anti-ballistic missile treaty with Russia in favor of greater defense spending, supports renewed nuclear testing, and Bush's refusal to become part of the International Criminal Court. (New York Times Magazine, 9/22/02) In other words, by the standards of decency, this many seems consumed by visions of military glory and bloodlust.

Thousands died due to Wolfowitz's combination of belligerency, ignorance, and error. They are still dying while this smug arrogant little man enjoys the perks of power and status. Are we too harsh? Consider the following.

On Sept. 2, 2003, Wolfowitz published this little piece in the Wall Street Journal:

Not long ago, a woman named Christy Ferer traveled to Iraq along with the USO. She'd lost her husband Neil Levin at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, and she wanted to say thank you to the troops in Baghdad. She wrote a wonderful piece about her trip, and in it, she wondered why our soldiers would want to see her, when they could see the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, movie stars and a model. When the soldiers heard that a trio of Sept. 11 family members were there, she found out why.

Young men and women from across America rushed to the trio, eager to touch them and talk to them. One soldier, a mother of two, told Christy she'd enlisted because of Sept. 11. Another soldier displayed the metal bracelet he wore, engraved with the name of a victim of 9/11. Others came forward with memorabilia from the World Trade Center they carried with them into Baghdad. And when it was Christy's turn to present Gen. Tommy Franks with a piece of steel recovered from the Trade Towers, she saw this great soldier's eyes well up with tears. Then, she watched as they streamed down his face on center stage before 4,000 troops.

To those who think the battle in Iraq is a distraction from the global war against terrorism . . . tell that to our troops.


And yet, almost one month earlier, on August 6, 2003, Jason Leopold reported that "in an interview with conservative radio personality Laura Ingraham, Wolfowitz was asked when he first came to believe that Iraq was behind the 9-11 terrorist attacks. 'I'm not sure even now that I would say Iraq had something to do with it,'" In other words, he never believed Saddam Hussein was connected to 9-11. Does this mean that he knowingly lied to Bush when,at the Sept. 15-16 meeting after 9-11, Wolfowitz argued "that the real source of all the trouble and terrorism was probably Hussein" as reported by Bill Woodward and Dan Balz.


For the transcript of his interview with Ingraham, go to:

Christy Ferer and our troops in Iraq are good Americans. By manipulating her sorrow and our troops' loyalty, Paul Wolfowitz is not.

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