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Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 15:55 GMT
Analysis: Is Wolfowitz waiting for war?
The deputy US defence secretary has been drumming up support for military action against Iraq
Wolfowitz has been drumming up support for war against Iraq
The BBC's Barny Mason

The American Deputy Defence Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, says war against Iraq may not be inevitable.

But the only way for President Saddam Hussein to survive is to co-operate with peaceful disarmament efforts in a way he never has before.

As UN weapons inspectors expand their operations, and US preparations for war continue, every nuance of expression in statements from Washington is examined for clues about what may happen.

A UN weapons inspection at a presidential palace
Weapons inspections have begun at presidential palaces
On Monday, President George W Bush said the signs so far were not encouraging - despite Iraqi co-operation with the inspectors on the ground.

He was talking about other signs of non-compliance.

Paul Wolfowitz is one of the hawks in and around the Bush administration who suffered a setback when the President decided to follow the UN route and give the weapons inspectors a chance.

That is why he now says the use of force against Iraq is not inevitable.

But in a BBC interview, he added that Saddam Hussein would never give up his weapons of mass destruction unless he was convinced that to do otherwise would mean the end of his regime.


Wolfowitz is one of those hawks who want to remake the whole Middle East in America's image

And Mr Wolfowitz believes it is almost inconceivable that he will give them up. In his mind, then, war is as near inevitable as makes no difference.

So many in the administration are now looking ahead not just to a war but to what should come after it.

Imperial aspirations?

Mr Wolfowitz thinks ordinary Iraqis would greet American troops as liberators; more than that, he said Washington's aim would be seen as liberating an Islamic country from dictatorship.

He is one of those hawks who want to remake the whole Middle East in America's image. They have been labelled democratic imperialists.

Not all the Bush hardliners fall into this camp. Mr Wolfowitz's boss, Donald Rumsfeld, for example, is much more sceptical about ambitious nation-building: whether it is desirable and whether it would work.

But in the vision endorsed by Mr Wolfowitz, a transformed Iraq would not only help secure oil supplies and reduce the threat to Israel.

There is much criticism in Turkey of US policy towards Iraq
There is much criticism in Turkey of US policy towards Iraq
It could also become a democratic model which other Arab countries would emulate.

That is all of a piece with Mr Wolfowitz's enthusiastic backing for the admission of Turkey into the European Union: Turkey, too, could be an example of an Islamic but truly democratic country that would help change Muslim attitudes to the West.

Some hardline American commentators have even talked about US military action to bring about similar changes of regime in Syria and Iran.

Hearts and minds

Returning to Iraq, Mr Wolfowitz seems to believe that military intervention would win over hearts and minds in the Arab and Muslim world.

Many observers, especially in Europe, see this as an optimistic and dangerous fantasy.

  • First, it takes no account of the deep-rooted suspicion of American motives - military action would certainly not be interpreted as a war of liberation.

  • Second, it ignores the burning resentment of Washington's policy towards Israel.

  • And third, it fails to see that Islamic militancy of the Osama bin Laden variety is based on a wholesale rejection of US and western influence.

Democracy imposed by Washington is no more acceptable than anything else.

So according to this argument, war on Iraq will simply enlarge the pool of recruits on which al-Qaeda can draw.


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See also:

03 Dec 02 | Europe
02 Dec 02 | Europe
16 Jul 02 | Middle East
26 Sep 01 | Americas
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