WASHINGTON – Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz said Wednesday that had America been convinced that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction,it may have considered different invasion or regime change options – including a campaign of support to opposition groups in Iraq.
“If we could have been convinced – I'm not sure anyone could have been – that there was no danger,if one could guarantee there was no chance that weapons of mass destruction could be used,one could have contemplated much more support for internal Iraqi opposition,” Wolfowitz said.
Wolfowitz answered questions about Iraq following a speech on international trade – and as President Bush defended his Iraq war policy in a speech across town.
Wolfowitz,who as deputy secretary of defense during Bush's first administration was a champion of the war,is now president of the World Bank.
Asked if he would still advocate war if there were no WMDs in Iraq,Wolfowitz said there are at least three major reasons for invasion: Iraq's capacity to attain WMDs,Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism and his use of genocide against Iraqis.
Greater efforts to train an Iraqi army would have helped the war more than increasing U.S. troop levels,Wolfowitz said.
“The best thing we could have had from the beginning was a lot more Iraqi troops – not American troops,” Wolfowitz said.
Wolfowitz said a central problem in Iraq has been the perception of U.S. forces as an occupying power. “I personally don't think more [American] troops would solve the problem,” he said. “More troops would tend to create a problem.”
Asked about the failure of pre-war intelligence,Wolfowitz pointed to Hussein's trial.
“Part of the answer is on display today in the trial that's going on in Baghdad,” he said,referring to the testimony of Iraqi torture victims. “You understand how difficult it was to penetrate secrets in a country where the penalties for revealing secrets were worse than death.”
Flawed information about WMDs was not his fault or that of other politicians,he said,arguing that the intelligence community should be held responsible.
Wolfowitz said his involvement in planning the war has “not noticeably” affected his work at the World Bank. “I'm as serious at pursuing my job at the bank as I was serious about my other jobs,including my last one,” he said.