VINTAGE WOLFOWITZ….In celebration of Paul Wolfowitz’s decision to stay at the Pentagon, I’d like to take this chance to reprint my favorite Wolfowitz testimony of all time. This is from the New York Times account of Wolfowitz’s testimony before Congress on February 28, 2003, a mere three weeks before the invasion of Iraq:
Mr. Wolfowitz…opened a two-front war of words on Capitol Hill, calling the recent estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, “wildly off the mark.” Pentagon officials have put the figure closer to 100,000 troops.
….In his testimony, Mr. Wolfowitz ticked off several reasons why he believed a much smaller coalition peacekeeping force than General Shinseki envisioned would be sufficient to police and rebuild postwar Iraq. He said there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq, as there was in Bosnia or Kosovo.
He said Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led liberation force that “stayed as long as necessary but left as soon as possible,” but would oppose a long-term occupation force. And he said that nations that oppose war with Iraq would likely sign up to help rebuild it. “I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq in reconstruction,” Mr. Wolfowitz said. He added that many Iraqi expatriates would likely return home to help.
….Enlisting countries to help to pay for this war and its aftermath would take more time, he said. “I expect we will get a lot of mitigation, but it will be easier after the fact than before the fact,” Mr. Wolfowitz said. Mr. Wolfowitz spent much of the hearing knocking down published estimates of the costs of war and rebuilding, saying the upper range of $95 billion was too high….Moreover, he said such estimates, and speculation that postwar reconstruction costs could climb even higher, ignored the fact that Iraq is a wealthy country, with annual oil exports worth $15 billion to $20 billion. “To assume we’re going to pay for it all is just wrong,” he said.
You just can’t make this stuff up.
And for the record, it was about a week later when I reversed course and began opposing the Iraq war. This testimony wasn’t the only reason, of course, but it was sure part of it. It was stuff like this that finally made it completely clear that even the smart people in the Bush administration (and Wolfowitz is a smart guy) didn’t have a clue what they were getting themselves into.