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Wolfowitz Suggests Knowing Iraq Had No WMD Might Have Put Off Invasion

Wolfowitz, a former deputy defense secretary and one of the architects of the war, said the fear that Iraq would use weapons of mass destruction was a major preoccupation of General Tommy Franks, who planned and led the invasion.

Washington (AFP) Dec 07, 2005
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz suggested Wednesday that US forces might not have invaded Iraq if Washington had known then that the regime of Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.

"And I'm not sure based on the evidence we know now that we could have been absolutely convinced that there was no danger, absolutely no danger," Wolfowitz said at National Press Club.

"If somebody could have given you a Lloyds of London guarantee that weapons of mass destruction would not possibly be used, one would have contemplated much more support for internal Iraqi opposition and not having the United States take the job on the way we did," he said.

Wolfowitz, a former deputy defense secretary and one of the architects of the war, said the fear that Iraq would use weapons of mass destruction was a major preoccupation of General Tommy Franks, who planned and led the invasion.

"It was a sense that the greatest danger in taking this man on would be that he would use them," Wolfowitz said, referring to Saddam Hussein, who is now on trial in Baghdad.

"If you could have given us a guarantee that they wouldn't have been used, there would have been policy options available probably," he said.

Iraq's supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction was the primary US rationale for the 2003 invasion. Wolfowitz cited Saddam's support for terrorism and his "genocidal" treatment of the Iraqi people as other reasons.

No banned weapons were ever found, however, and US experts concluded last year that Iraq had abandoned its chemical and nuclear programs in 1991 and its biological weapons program by 1995.

Asked how he accounted for the intelligence failure, Wolfowitz replied: "Well, I don't have to, and it's not just because I don't work for the US government anymore.

"In my old job, I didn't have to. I was like everyone else outside the intelligence community," he said.

"We relied on the intelligence community for those judgments. So the question is, how do they account for it or how do the commissions that have attempted to understand and account for it?" he said.

On the insurgency that followed the US invasion, Wolfowitz defended the use of a smaller US force. Before the invasion, Wolfowitz famously dismissed a warning by the army's chief of staff that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to occupy the country.

"I personally don't think more troops would have answered the problem. I think more troops would have tended to create a problem," Wolfowitz said Wednesday.

"The big part of the problem is the appearance that the United States was and perhaps remaining an occupying power. And I think the best thing we could have had from the beginning is not more American troops but more Iraqi troops."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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