Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil, George Wright, The Guardian, June 4, 2003
Oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq, a leading White
House hawk has claimed, confirming the worst fears of those opposed to the
The US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz - who
has already undermined Tony Blair's position over weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
by describing them as a "bureaucratic" excuse for war - has now gone
further by claiming the real motive was that Iraq is "swimming" in oil.
The latest comments were made by Mr Wolfowitz in an
address to delegates at an Asian security summit in Singapore at the weekend,
and reported today by German newspapers Der Tagesspiegel and Die Welt.
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."
Mr Wolfowitz went on to tell journalists at the
conference that the US was set on a path of negotiation to help defuse tensions
between North Korea and its neighbours - in contrast to the more belligerent
attitude the Bush administration displayed in its dealings with Iraq.
His latest comments follow his widely reported
statement from an interview in Vanity Fair last month, in which he said that
"for reasons that have a lot to do with the US government bureaucracy, we
settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on: weapons of mass
Prior to that, his boss, defence secretary Donald
Rumsfeld, had already undermined the British government's position by saying
Saddam Hussein may have destroyed his banned weapons before the war.
Mr Wolfowitz's frank assessment of the importance of
oil could not come at a worse time for the US and UK governments, which are both
facing fierce criticism at home and abroad over allegations that they
exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in order to justify the war.
Amid growing calls from all parties for a public
inquiry, the foreign affairs select committee announced last night it would
investigate claims that the UK government misled the country over its evidence
of Iraq's WMD.
The move is a major setback for Tony Blair, who had
hoped to contain any inquiry within the intelligence and security committee,
which meets in secret and reports to the prime minister.
In the US, the failure to find solid proof of chemical,
biological and nuclear arms in Iraq has raised similar concerns over Mr Bush's
justification for the war and prompted calls for congressional investigations.
Mr Wolfowitz is viewed as one of the most hawkish
members of the Bush administration. The 57-year old expert in international
relations was a strong advocate of military action against Afghanistan and Iraq.
Following the September 11 terror attacks on the World
Trade Centre and Pentagon, Mr Wolfowitz pledged that the US would pursue
terrorists and "end" states' harbouring or sponsoring of militants.
Prior to his appointment to the Bush cabinet in February 2001, Mr Wolfowitz was dean and professor of international relations at the Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), of the Johns Hopkins University.
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