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Brookings Harvard Forum at the National Press Club

Brookings Harvard Forum at the National Press Club

Source: News Transcript from the United States Department of Defense. DoD News Briefing: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Wednesday, May 15, 2002. Brookings Harvard Forum at the National Press Club, moderated by Stephen Hess and Marvin Kalb.

Hess: Welcome to the 17th session of the Brookings/Harvard Forum. I'm Stephen Hess of Brookings. My co-inventor of the forum, Marvin Kalb, is the Executive Director of the Washington Office of the Shorenstein Center from Harvard University.

In introducing our guest today let me say a word about a very creative personnel system that's uniquely American. President Kennedy's headhunters called them the "action intellectuals" and our friend Richard Nustat at Harvard called them the "ins and outers". They're a special brand of public spirited Americans who are appointed to positions at a high reach in the U.S. government when they are in agreement with the party in power, and when they are out of power they relax and they reflect on the lessons they've learned in government in [purchases] in universities, think tanks, foundations, advocacy groups, certain types of law firms, while of course awaiting the next opportunity to put their knowledge to work for government. And a very key member of this "in and outer" club is Dr. Paul Wolfowitz.

During the presidency of Ronald Reagan he was Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, he was Ambassador to Indonesia. During the presidency of George H.W. Bush he was the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. And then during the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton he became the Dean and the Professor of International Relations at the School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University which is on Massachusetts Avenue, right across from the Brookings Institution where we also have a welcome mat out for action intellectuals.

Now during the presidency of George W. Bush he is the United States Deputy Secretary of Defense. Paul Wolfowitz is going to have a conversation with us and a little later we'll open it up for questions from the audience.

So Marvin, what would be your first question?

Kalb: I would like to start with the fact that the Secretary of Defense is going up to the Hill tomorrow obviously to defend his decision to kill a very important weapon system that is called the Crusader. It appears over the last couple of weeks that there is a very large battle that is brewing between supporters of the Crusader up on the Hill, within the Pentagon itself and the Army, and then you and the Secretary and others who feel that we've got to move on to a new generation of weapons and put down things like the Crusader.

I would like to ask you to begin to explain it to us, why is this so important? This kind of a decision, why is it important?

Hess: Well, it's $11 billion, for heaven's sakes.

Wolfowitz: Even in the Pentagon we consider that real money.

I do have to respond to Steve's introduction. That phrase "in and outers" suggests that when you're out you're really waiting to be in, and when I was out I had a terrific job as Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and I loved it. And in my previous job I wasn't allowed to say anything nice about Harvard or Brookings, but now I can say I want to compliment Harvard and Brookings -- [Laughter] -- because I think what you're doing with this series is important.

And I hope we get off the subject of media quickly, but I do think it's important to say we in the Defense Department feel as though our goal is the same as that of the American press, which is defending liberty and democracy. I know sometimes we're sparring with each other but I think that's in fact part of the process. I compliment you for what you're doing, and you know our expert on questions from and about the media is the Secretary of Defense himself, and you've had him, so I'd like to get into your question which is about transformation.

I was at a ceremony a week ago where we named the Old Executive Office Building after late President Eisenhower, and on that occasion Colin Powell, a former general, a great Secretary of State, said, speaking of Eisenhower, I think a point that is not always known about his career, he reflected on Eisenhower's certainty that our company "had to rebuild and transform our armed forces in the period between the wars," and he said that Ike's determination to see that transformation happen and the effect that transformational systems and thought had on the outcome of World War II influenced him as a young officer after Vietnam.

And as Rumsfeld has said, we're facing the same kind of challenge today. In the case of the period of the '20s and '30s we didn't have the great armed forces that we have today, it's true. But what we had was an armed force that was designed for the last war, and what Eisenhower represented was those people who were thinking ahead to the next war.

Today in the Pentagon we have great soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and civilians who are all thinking both about this war and the next war.

What brought us to the decision on Crusader was a judgment -- and it's always a judgment call. These are not absolutes. That while Crusader is a good system, it's definitely an advance over our current artillery, it's not the kind of transformational leap that really brings us the forces we need to fight the wars of the 21st Century. That where the Army has set its sights in what they call the transformation force or the objective force, which emphasizes accuracy, emphasizes deployability, emphasizes mobility, that those are the qualities that we really need to complement the already substantial capabilities our Army has today. It was a judgment about risks. It's a judgment to terminate Crusader, but not just to move that money to the Air Force, for example. It's not air power over Army. It's a decision that what the Army most needs and what Army artillery most needs is precision and mobility.

Kalb: Mr. Secretary, help us understand, do you already have in mind a specific new weapon system that instead of the Crusader you could put into its place immediately? Or are you killing one weapon system without a clear vision of what the next system is going to be?

Wolfowitz: It's somewhere in between. And it is definitely not a decision to put something in place immediately. By the way, Crusader isn't immediate either. Crusader wouldn't start to deploy until 2008, so we're talking in the case of Crusader about a medium term capability, not a near term one.

We're talking about a set of alternatives, not a single alternative, and I think it's important also in discussing these complicated issues, and it makes it more complicated, that you don't match gun for gun or system for system, you match a complex of weapon systems against a complex of weapon systems.

I think Afghanistan, although in many ways it's a unique war, it's been a very clear demonstration of what this system of combat systems accomplishes.

In the case of Crusader, to answer your question more directly, I would say what we're looking at is to accelerate precision in artillery. That means, if I can start using complicated Pentagon jargon, a round called the Excaliber round, which could deliver 10-meter accuracy in an artillery round. It would revolutionize artillery. And something in rockets called the guided MLRS, guided Multiple Launch Rocket System -- it's hard for us to talk without acronyms -- which would deliver the same kind of accuracy in a rocket system. That would come in with an accelerated schedule, actually before Crusader would be available.

The other thing we're talking about which is in the longer term, is how to get Crusader-like capabilities in a system that is deployable on aircraft and even on theater lift aircraft like the C-130.

But basically, and I think this is really important, it is a judgment to give up something, something that's valuable in the medium term, in order to get something sooner, that we believe is more valuable in the long term. And that's why it's a hard decision.

Kalb: I'm sure it's a hard decision. It's also a hard battle for you because of the strong opposition up on the Hill. There has apparently been strong opposition within the Pentagon at the Army level. Do you feel that as you look at the odds right now that you and the Secretary are going to win?

Wolfowitz: He said we will, and I believe him. [Laughter]

Kalb: That's a safe call.

Hess: The Secretary is confident but is history on your side when you look at what's happened with major weapon systems? Look at poor Dick Cheney or Harold Brown when they tried to get rid of the Osprey, the plane that went up like a helicopter and then flew like an airplane, and both of them found that Congress felt otherwise. Even the B-1 bomber that President Carter could cancel and President Reagan could bring back. It's hard to find; you almost have to go back more than a decade to find a major weapon system that has been canceled.

I want to ask the strategy. You folks seem to be off to a very rocky start, and if anything you seem to be the fall guy. The Congressman from Oklahoma, J.C. Watts, almost called you a liar, if you'll recall. The leading Democrat on the committee said he had no advance notice.

So a somewhat strategic question, since we know that both you and Don Rumsfeld are pretty smart folks, was this part of a strategy not to give advance notice to the Congress? And the Army feels the same way. The sense of if we spring this on them there's going to be less chance for their regrouping and going ahead? Or have I got it wrong? What is the strategy?

Wolfowitz: There's a lot in that questions but let me start with a fact. This isn't about winning. And in fact it's important to stress we make a recommendation to the Congress. It's the Congress that decides.

I do believe this is a win/win decision for the Defense Department, for the Army, for the Congress. Process is always messy. When the press does its job things happen. Almost as soon as you have a meeting -- I had a meeting with Secretary White on this subject. Even before the meeting was over somehow through the permanent bureaucracy to the contractors to the Congress to the press, we were already getting phone calls about the content of that meeting before it had even been finished. So it's a little hard to have orderly process in those circumstances.

But the real point here is that we're constantly in the Defense Department putting together at least two and frequently three or four budgets at the same time. Right now over -- by right now I mean over the last three or four months, we have been presenting the FY03 budget to the Congress which has Crusader in it. We have been putting together and presenting to the Congress an '02 supplemental to fight the war. And we have been working on the guidance for the FY04 budget. It's that convergence of the '03 budget which is on the Hill with our analysis of the '04 budget and as that analysis increasingly said to us, we were looking at Crusader, we're looking at a number of programs, but Crusader was at the front of that file.

The analysis increasingly said to us it's a good system, we still believe it's a good system, but it's the wrong place to put the money, there are better places to put the money. And it would have been irresponsible, in my view, to let the Congress continue along, appropriate the '03 money, and then tell them after it was all done, oh, by the way, three months ago we came to a different conclusion.

There is no way to have a perfectly orderly process.

Kalb: Isn't the Congress proceeding anyway? They're going ahead, the House and the Senate both have voted $400-some-odd million to continue the Crusader program, is that correct?

Wolfowitz: First of all, as you know, and when I was Ambassador to Indonesia it was often very difficult to explain "Congress votes textile ban on Indonesian imports" and it turned out it was a subcommittee of the House committee and it was a bill the President was going to veto. So our process doesn't end with the first action.

The House Armed Services Committee voted to keep, in its authorization bill, to keep money for Crusader. The Senate Armed Services Committee has not yet voted on that subject. There's going to be a major hearing tomorrow where the Secretary of Defense is going to, for the first time, have a chance to present his case in public. Then we'll see.

Kalb: You were mentioning before General and President Eisenhower, and you quoted from --

Wolfowitz: I quoted from General and Secretary of State Powell. Another great general.

Kalb: Referring to Eisenhower. Eisenhower also is known for many many things including the warning about a military industrial complex, which he did at the very beginning of the 1960s, and that takes you back 40 years. So to give you some historical perspective on the battle that you're involved with right now, and I asked you before if you think you're going to win, and you said yes. And that's understandable, the answer. But against a background of that kind of history, the power of the military industrial complex in the United States not to determine an outcome but strongly to influence the direction of a decision is there and you face it every day. You are conscious of that historical parallel.

Wolfowitz: There are a lot of people with important stakes in every decision, on both sides of every decision. And it is true that when you're talking about a weapon system that is underway -- it's not, by the way, in production yet. But it's underway. There are people who can see jobs and interests at stake. We're talking about shifting that money to a whole bunch of other systems. There are jobs at stake in that also, but the people who are going to get those jobs don't know about it yet.

But I think something that is different from that warning that Eisenhower voiced, and I can't say I know precisely what he was thinking of or talking about at the time, but remember that was the height of the Cold War.

I think we've seen something that is great about that military industrial complex. We have seen an ability of our military backed up by our industry to deliver capabilities that no one else in the world can deliver, and that since September 11th the American people now understand we need to have. And I do think it's changed the way in which people think about this decision.

This is not about cutting budgets in order to save money because we don't need defense. It's about how we spend those defense dollars most wisely. And I think it helps us a lot that there isn't a debate about whether we need a defense budget or a Defense Department any more. That debate has been resolved.

Hess: But go back to the strategy on this. We certainly know where the Members of Congress are coming from, those that are in districts in which they could potentially lose tax revenue, and they lose jobs and so forth. We know that, Walter Pincus had an interesting article in the Washington Post the other day. We know that United Defense spends a million dollars a year on lobbying on this. We know they gave $180,000 to Members of Congress, many of whom happen to be on the Appropriations Committee or the Armed Services Committee for this. So we see on that hand the forces arrayed against you.

But what confuses me is, tell me the internal politics inside the Pentagon itself. Why suddenly did we have this brouhaha over the Army and over talking points and so forth? In this complex of those arrayed against you have parts of the Pentagon.

Now it strikes me that's peculiar in a system where service personnel are trained in loyalty, they salute their Commander-in-Chief. What's going on over there?

Wolfowitz: First of all, there's nothing sudden about this. It may seem sudden to some of you but we have been discussing what transformation is about since before I came in on March 2nd of last year. We've been discussing specific weapon systems, we've had multiple, multiple meetings and sessions on Crusader itself. So this is not a sudden process. In fact it's been a very careful, deliberate process.

Secondly, yes, there are all those kinds of interests that you describe, but I think it trivializes the people who disagree with us to say that all they're thinking about is parochial interests.

It is true that people from Oklahoma have a particular concern about Crusader. I don't think it's just about jobs. It's because Fort Sill, the home of Army artillery, is in Oklahoma. They have come to believe that Crusader is a great system. It is a good system, by the way. There's no argument about that.

Within the building, particularly within the U.S. Army there are people who have become very attached to Crusader, and frankly, I was prepared to defend it until I began to see what some of those alternatives were.

I think, if you ask me why we come to some of these different judgments I'd say it's two things. One is a judgment about -- sorry, this is jargon -- future risk versus near term risk. The risk that you won't have something that you want to have if a war starts in Korea tomorrow. Of course you won't have Crusader tomorrow either, but if a war starts in Korea in 2008 versus the risk that you won't have what you really want to have in 2015. Those are judgment calls. No single person, frankly, has all the qualifications for it but the closest we come to an individual who is confirmed by the Congress to make those judgments and to make recommendations to our Commander-in-Chief is the Secretary of Defense and he has to weigh those things and he has to weigh future risk versus current risk.

The other thing I believe that is operative here is that Crusader is closer to what we have already. It's easier, I think, for most people to understand the value of an improvement in what you have already than to understand something that is revolutionary that you don't quite believe in. Accurate munitions are a perfect example.

I remember 25 years ago, the first time Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense and I was working in another agency of the U.S. government. There were a lot of people, including people in the Navy, who said we don't need these Tomahawk cruise missiles, they're useless, they take up valuable torpedo space, they're just another way to deliver nuclear weapons and we don't need it.

Those people, in my view, did not appreciate what precision could mean in delivering a conventional weapon for the submarine. Now the Navy swears by Tomahawks. It's a major weapon system for the Navy. But at that time it was sort of a leap into the dark. I don't think we're leaping into the dark any longer, I think precision has demonstrated itself over and over again, most recently in Afghanistan, as one of the most revolutionary transformational capabilities that we have.

Kalb: But its transformational capability into something that is not yet there. Number one --

Wolfowitz: Crusader isn't there yet either.

Kalb: Right. But it isn't -- But to kill one system and go toward another system without knowing really exactly what that other system is, if I understand you right, you're struggling to find what will be the appropriate system for 10 or 15 years out.

Wolfowitz: Again, a complicated decision because there are at least four different things we want to put this money into, okay? Two of them are quite real, they're under development, we believe they're a few years away from being realized. One is the Excaliber artillery round, which would give you highly accurate artillery rounds that would go in every single artillery tube in the Army, the Navy and the Marine Corps. That's not just a gleam in someone's eye. That is a development program.

The other one that is a real system is the guided rocket system, which takes an existing inventory of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and puts accurate guidance on them. Those aren't pie in the sky. Those are systems we can have, we think we can have them faster and in larger quantity if we put more money into them.

There are other systems, particularly what the Army is calling the Future Combat System in their transformation force, which is a family of lighter vehicles. And we believe you can have a Crusader-like gun in the Future Combat System. That still is conceptual. That still needs work. And there's a little bit of a gamble there.

Kalb: The experience in Afghanistan, was that crucial in making the decision on the Crusader?

Wolfowitz: I don't think it was crucial, but I think it reinforced some conclusions that we had already come to last summer in putting together the Quadrennial Defense Review.

Kalb: That kind of put it over the top?

Wolfowitz: More just reinforced. The importance of accuracy and the importance of being able to deploy forces deep and maneuver deep. I mean if we had the Army objective force today, the Army would have been able to do things in Afghanistan that would have been wonderful. We're not there yet. We want to get there faster.

Hess: Bring us beyond, we use that word transformation a lot of times, but is this the first piece? What the second and the third?

Wolfowitz: Oh, no. There have been many pieces already.

Hess: Tell us what --

Wolfowitz: I think we do use the word a lot, maybe we use it too much, but I think it's an important word. We've spent a lot of time trying to put more precision definition on what it means. And one of the things that it does mean is accelerating the introduction of accuracy into the force. That's a process that's been underway for awhile. But as a result of that review last summer we have added real money, over a billion dollars to increase our production of the JDAM, the accurate bomb that we've been using so much in Afghanistan. We put money in this year's budget request to convert four Trident submarines from a nuclear mission, which is a Cold War mission that we don't need any more, and we have a treaty actually that takes us in that direction. We're taking those incredibly valuable submarines and converting them to be cruise missile carriers so that we will give those submarines the kind of conventional crunch that is transformational.

We have, and it was a difficult decision last year. We decided to cut our B-1 force by a third so the two-thirds that were left could be transformed into systems that could deliver munitions accurately.

There's a long list, and actually --

Hess: What will be the next weapon system, assuming you win -- or lose on Crusader. Do you go on to tactical fighter aircraft? Is that the next major system to be cut?

Wolfowitz: That's a great question.

Look, in fact in the Defense Planning Guidance and all the military departments know it, in the Defense Planning Guidance to put together the fiscal year '04 budget we have a series of studies that look at the V-22 aircraft, the F-22, various helicopter programs. We're trying to take a look comprehensively at a whole series of things and I'd say the basic reason for it is that there are so many good things, and they are good things. These are not bad systems or they wouldn't be around. These are good things that the military would like to have, I think that the country would benefit from having. But when we make projections out to FY08-'09, and we have to do that in our business, you start to see that we aren't going to be able to afford them all, even with what we think are some pretty generous increases in defense spending.

So we're starting to look at those choices. They're going to, again, be hard choices, but it's hard because all of this stuff is capable. It's big improvements over what we have.

Kalb: Mr. Secretary, a lot of cameras around here so I want to widen our lens of discussion, so to speak, and get us into a few other subjects.

If one were to watch television on a regular basis, television news, read the papers, one thing or another, you would logically come to the conclusion that the American planned effort against Iraq has been essentially shelved by virtue of the pressures generated by the crisis between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

I was wondering if you accept that generalization? Is that the way you see it?

Wolfowitz: People come to a lot of logical conclusions. They concluded right after the State of the Union message in which the President identified North Korea as one of those axis of evil countries that we were about to go to war with North Korea. I think one of the things that's happened, I believe, I can't say cause and effect, but it happened after the President's speech, is the North Koreans are suddenly coming forward wanting to talk with us.

What the President said about all three of those countries, and Iraq was clearly one of them, is that they represent danger to the United States because they're hostile, because they have or are developing weapons of mass destruction, and because they have a record of supporting terrorism, and that that is not a danger we can afford to live with indefinitely. That we can't wait until there's a 9-11 with a nuclear weapon or a biological or chemical weapon to then go and find the perpetrator. But he hasn't set forth specifically how to go about dealing with it. In each case it's different. In each case it's difficult and complicated. And I just would discourage people from concluding too much from what seems "logical" as you put it.

Kalb: But the focus that everybody has in the past month or so on the Palestinian-Israeli crisis, has that not distracted you from a more principled effort against Iraq?

Wolfowitz: I think we try very hard to walk and chew gum at the same time. We are trying, I'll come back to your question in a minute. But I think it's important to emphasize that these decisions about Crusader and about the future of the armed forces are being made at the same time that we're making very difficult decisions about how to fight today, and the armed forces are performing magnificently.

I would say that it's an analogous thing to think about here. We have a huge stake in moving forward on achieving some kind of a peace between Arabs and Israelis or specifically now between Israelis and Palestinians. I must say, by the way too, to throw another laurel in Secretary Powell's direction, I think he's done magnificent work, and I think we're better off today for his having gone to the Middle East than if he hadn't. But it is a formidable problem. It is difficult.

Does it affect how we to about thinking about dealing with Iraq or Iran? You bet it does. Does it stop us from thinking or working on it? No, it doesn't.

From the other direction I think sometimes this isn't appreciated enough. Iraq and Iran are major disrupters of the peace process. They have, one of their goals in life is to make sure that process doesn't work. If there were a change of regime in Iraq would it help us in the peace process? You bet it would. In fact if you go back historically and look when the great breakthroughs have been made in Arab-Israeli peace, the Egyptian-Israeli treaty happened, I would say, not long after and as a direct result of the demonstration in the early 1970s that the United States was the strategic power in the Eastern Mediterranean, not the Soviet Union. The breakthroughs that were represented in the 1990s by Madrid and Oslo came after the defeat of Saddam Hussein and the elimination for a time at least of Iraq as a major factor in the Middle East.

So you have to work both of these things at the same time and just keep at it, and we're doing that.

Kalb: The King of Jordan said just the other day that if the United States were to go against Iraq it would be, I think his word was "devastating", and I think at another occasion he said "catastrophic".

Now that is a clear difference in a strategic vision of how Iraq plays into the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli problem.

Wolfowitz: Not necessarily.

Kalb: -- keep saying don't do it because it would make things worse.

Wolfowitz: Look, people say a lot of things, people have a lot of different views, a lot of different interests. Believe me, if you live in the neighborhood of a Mafia lord or you live in the neighborhood of Saddam Hussein, then that's going to affect what you say, even in private but particularly in public. And there's truth in what he says.

But the point is we can't continue living forever with the dangers that are presented. That's what the President has made clear. And he is thinking through with the help of, I must say, I think a world-class team of advisors, how to manage each of these issues, how to synchronize things, how to get time lines together. But I'd say both issues are very much on the front burner.

Hess: Would you like to comment at all, Mr. Secretary --

Wolfowitz: Probably not, if you phrase it that way. [Laughter]

Hess: I think you're quite way. Okay, I'l ask the question again.

Among others, the press likes to divide people into camps within an Administration. There now seems to be what's called a Richard Perle camp and a Brent Scowcroft camp. At any rate, we know the players in each camp. Tell us something about the internal dynamics in this Administration. How much civility and how pleasantly do you fight out these battles, or are these just a figment of the press' imagination?

Wolfowitz: I must say I think those press stories must be great for Richard Perle's and Brent Scowcroft's consulting businesses, but they honestly do not pull the strings in the Administration.

I think a quality of this President which I observed really from the very first time I met him early on in his campaign, is that he thrives on people debating issues in front of him. He is a great listener and he's a great decider. At a certain point he says okay, I've heard you, I've heard you, here's what I think and here's what we're doing.

I would say number one that that, I think, is the key to an effective decision making process. You can't come to good decisions if you don't have different points of view represented. And you can't have a good policy if that debate goes on forever and no one ever decides anything. And you can't have good policy if after that decision the players continue to argue their positions or particularly act as though there's been no decision made. None of that happens.

I think there's a very good clear debate, very good clean decisions, and a very teamwork-like implementation of those decisions. We've just seen it, I think, accomplished in what is truly a revolutionary change, well maybe revolutionary is a word one should be cautious about. I think a very significant change in the U.S.-Russian relationship. We're out of the ABM Treaty or about to be. We have a new strategic relationship, an arms control treaty that is unlike any we've had before. That was a product of different points of view from both Secretary Powell, Secretary Rumsfeld, Condy Rice, a lot of people.

I would say it's pretty civil. It's helped by the fact that we have been friends and worked together over a long period of time.

I must say, you referred to my prior life. In the academic world it's unfortunately true that you can disagree with a colleague over some trivial thing and stop speaking to him or her for the next 30 years and nothing really is affected by that. [Laughter] In government if you have that kind of argument, you may need that person the next day because they're going to be your ally in a different argument. It seems to me that it constantly moderates and introduces a level of civility that is essential to make government work.

Kalb: You were talking a moment ago about the new relationship with the Russians. I was just wondering whether there is any thought that is being given to discussing with the Russians an arrangement on energy, the net result of which would be a diminution then in the reliance of the United States upon Middle East oil, particularly Saudi oil, and that then would have the effect of perhaps liberating American policy from certain constraints that operated on it up to this point.

Wolfowitz: I can't say -- I think that's probably in several other Cabinet departments' main line of thinking, so --

Kalb: Have you been involved in --

Wolfowitz: I --

Kalb: -- policies for a long time.

Wolfowitz: It's an interesting idea and I certainly think that the energy potential of Russia and some of the Central Asian countries who probably would be shipping energy through Russia is enormous and it will be a benefit to the world in many ways including the one you mentioned if that can be developed more.

At the same time there's a notion out there that if we could just somehow fix the energy problem we could ignore the Persian Gulf. The energy resources of the Persian Gulf are so enormous, bring with it such wealth and such potential for power and power that can be abused, that I believe we've got to pay attention to it.

Look, it's a sensitive subject but we've seen where some of that Gulf money goes into, let me say it, mis-educating people in the Muslim world. It's harmful even if we have an alternative source of energy.

If you want me to talk about a big subject, I think a very big subject, and I spoke about this a couple of weeks ago in Monterey, part of this war on terrorism is finding terrorists and capturing them and killing them and putting them out of business, but another part of it has to be, as the President said in his State of the Union message, building a better world after this war on terrorism has been won. That means, I think, particularly reaching out to the moderate Muslims. There are hundreds of millions of moderate Muslims.

I was Ambassador to Indonesia for three years. It's the fourth largest country in the world, a lot of Americans don't know that. It's the largest Muslim population of any country in the world. Even fewer Americans know that. It is one of two countries with a Muslim majority in which Islam is not the state religion, and there are almost no Americans who know that. It is a model of moderation. Yes, there are a few extremists around. But those people aspire to the same values of democracy and freedom that we do. They want the same benefits of a free enterprise system, the prosperity --

Kalb: And --

Wolfowitz: We need to make that vision clear to those people.

Kalb: Exactly. And it seems that up to this point, at least since 9-11, the effort to get the American message through to the moderate Arab world has not been a roaring success. When one reads reports of journalists who go to Indonesia, for example, your sort of adopted country, Tom Friedman recently in the New York Times, you come back with rather frightening judgments as to what it is that young Muslim graduate students and college students think of the United States. And think of their world.

Is there any way that you can, aside from saying this is a good idea, do you feel that there is any evidence that we have been able to meet that frontally and have any positive effect?

Wolfowitz: Yes, there is any evidence. Is it a difficult job? Yes, it's difficult. Are we winning? I'm not sure we're winning. But if you want evidence I'll give you one piece of evidence. When the Taliban fell in Afghanistan and those women took off their burkhas, the attitude in Indonesia toward what we were doing in Afghanistan was transformed. They suddenly realized this was not a war against the Afghan people, this was a war that was liberating Afghan people. Did it completely transform their view of the United States? No. But it was a piece of progress.

I'll tell you a little anecdote that I remember from 15 years ago when I was ambassador --

Kalb: And then, by the way, we will go to questions from the audience.

Wolfowitz: -- that I think illustrates some of what we're up against.

We sent three Indonesians, they call them Kiais, in the Middle East they'd be called Imams. They run Muslim schools in Indonesia. We sent them on a USAA-sponsored tour of the United States to visit American public schools. They came back and we asked them was there anything particularly surprising? They said yes, we were surprised at how religious American teachers are. I was a little surprised at that observation myself, particularly since to my knowledge teachers in public schools don't wear their religion on their sleeves at all. It was very clear that what they meant, their definition of being religious was being devoted to your students, caring about your students. What became very clear was for these men before they came here, they thought of the United States from those Saturday night re-runs of Dallas that were the most popular TV shows in Indonesia, we don't always project the best image of the United States to people and that is part of our problem. There are people like bin Laden and his ilk who are out funding schools to project the wisdom into the United States. So we have a very big challenge against us with people working hard against us to do it, but we've got to rise to that challenge.

Hess: It's interesting. Just in passing we mentioned Afghanistan. Half a year later, before we go to the audience, give us a quick report, Mr. Secretary, on where we are, particularly in terms of the American troop contingent there, how long it's going to be there, how large it's going to be, where it's going to be stationed.

Wolfowitz: I think we've made terrific progress. I must say if you'd asked me back in early October where we would be in April or May of this year I would not have predicted we'd be in as good shape as we are. It's quite impressive to me, and I want to again, I think it really has to be said, General Franks and his people put together a plan out of nothing in less than three weeks, and they were liberating Mazar-e-Sharif I believe, less than five or six weeks after that. It's testimony to what our men and women in uniform can do and it's incredible.

We have removed the Taliban from power. We have essentially made Afghanistan, eliminated as an operating base for terrorists. There are still terrorists there and we're looking for them, but they are not able to plan or organize or do very much. And I think we've created the conditions for a better government for Afghanistan for the future.

We still have work to do. We still have pockets of terrorists around that we're looking for. There are still Afghans associated with the Taliban who do not wish us well and do not wish this new government well. And we are working to make sure that we don't end up leaving Afghanistan and just recreating all the conditions that brought us in there in the first place, which I guess is a way of saying we recognize that maybe we should have given that a little more thought ten years ago, but ten years ago was a different story.

It's a big challenge because Afghanistan is a huge country. It's a pretty wild country. It's not a country that's ever had a strong central government. So the kinds of solutions that worked in say Bosnia or Kosovo and worked quite well are not going to work at all in Afghanistan.

So we will be there for awhile and we'll be working hard at it, but I think we've accomplished a lot already.

Hess: Shall we open it to questions? Let me just note that in our audience today, Mr. Secretary, we have the Jefferson Fellows. This is a program of the East-West Center in Honolulu, and these are distinguished journalists who have come here for a short period from India, Pakistan, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, I may have missed a few countries. Forgive me if I have.

Wolfowitz: A good program.

Hess: It's a wonderful program. They're here and maybe they'll ask some questions too.

When you ask your questions, because all of this will be taped and will be within 48 hours on the Brookings web site, www.brookings.edu, so please identify yourself and your affiliation.

Question: Hello, I am Mary Pota from China, and I am honored to be here as a Jefferson Fellow. And I am also honored also to Harvard Kennedy School this autumn.

Kalb: That's an excellent selection. [Laughter] What is your question?

Question: My question is for Mr. Wolfowitz, President W. Bush made a statement that America has an obligation to protect Taiwan and he [unintelligible] every time [these] must understand it. As a Chinese myself I can't understand it. Could you please explain that?

Wolfowitz: I think the President has been very clear about our policy on Taiwan. We support a one-China policy. We do not support independence for Taiwan. But we also do not support an attempt to impose a solution on Taiwan by force.

We think that a peaceful process is the only way to bring Taiwan and the mainland together again, and frankly, we believe that the sooner a peaceful approach is adopted, the sooner that solution can happen. There is no intention, no desire to separate Taiwan from the mainland or have an independent Taiwan, but I think an attempt to solve this problem by force would be a disaster for everybody.

Question: [Unintelligible], British Broadcasting Corporation.

You mentioned Osama bin Laden's name once I think in this whole discussion today. Just a general question. Is Osama bin Laden still the focus of attention now at this point in the war against terrorism as he was back in September?

Wolfowitz: He's never been "the" focus of attention. He is the single person we would most like to get our hands on, no question about it. But the President and Secretary Rumsfeld have made clear from the beginning that this is not about one man. It's not about just Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is burrowed into some 60 countries in the world including the United States. And it's not just about one terrorist network. It's about the complex of global terrorist networks and about the states that support terrorism. So we obviously would love to get our hands on bin Laden. I must say that absence of any sound from him suggests that whatever he's doing now it's not as dangerous as some of the people we're listening to, but that's a different story.

Kalb: And we didn't hear from before 9-11, either.

Wolfowitz: Oh, we heard from him all the time?

Kalb: We did?

Wolfowitz: Oh, yeah.

Kalb: Okay.

Question: Good morning, Barbara Slavin of USA Today.

Mr. Secretary, you spoke about civility in the discussions between various bureaucracies in this Administration but we've recently seen a rather unseemly, uncivil argument over which group should be able to build a post-Saddam future in Iraq. We had a fight between, I understand, Pentagon and State, White House and State over whether the Iraqi National Congress should get money or whether the Middle East Institute should get money to have a conference of Iraqi exiles.

Would you please explain to me the state of play on planning on a post Saddam Iraq and which group you personally would favor to lead a post Saddam Iraq? Thank you.

Wolfowitz: I've been in a lot of discussions about the issues you referred to and they were all not only quite civil, but among -- I'll even name names. Steve Hadley, who is Condi Rice's deputy, Rich Armitage is Colin Powell's deputy, Pete Pace who is General Myers' deputy, John McGlaughlin who is George Tenet's deputy, we have met regularly, we've talked about these issues. I would say there's a pretty fair meeting of the minds about where to go.

That meeting of the minds centers on the basis point that it's not our place to pick the future government of Iraq. It is appropriate for the United States to try to develop a policy that will ensure that what replaces Saddam Hussein is not just another Saddam Hussein with a new uniform on, but is a genuinely different system that is as democratic as can be achieved, that provides decency and freedom for the Iraqi people. And by definition I think that means that we're not around picking new leaders.

Question: Thank you very much. Good morning, Mr. Secretary. Lisa Shnaiki Chan with Broadcasting Corporation of China.

I was a SAIS graduate in '97 when you were the Dean, so it's very nice meeting you today.

If I may, I would like to address my question relating to U.S. relations with China and Taiwan. In this March you attended a defense seminar in Florida and met with the Taiwanese Defense Secretary, Defense Minister Tang. In your view, what is your position on the high level military-to-military exchange between Taiwan and the United States? Do you support Minister Tang to visit the Pentagon and Washington, D.C.?

Wolfowitz: I really can only repeat what I said before which is we believe in the one-China policy, we believe in a peaceful solution to the differences between China and Taiwan, and we believe that the security of Taiwan contributes to that peaceful outcome. But there is a lot more to the U.S.-China relationship than just this issue of Taiwan. I think we had a very good series of visits just a few weeks ago from Vice President Hu Jintao, he came to the Pentagon, met with Secretary Rumsfeld. We're looking forward to moving forward between China's military and our military to develop closer relationships, better contacts. Obviously there was a setback last year after the EP-3 incident, but we'd like to rebuild those ties and even deepen them if possible.

Question: My name is Sam Aracast from [unintelligible] Newspapers.

Secretary Wolfowitz, in his OpEd column in today's New York Times Thomas Friedman says that "Over at the Pentagon the view is that Yasser Arafat is no different than Osama bin Laden and that other Arab leaders are worthy only of contempt." He goes on to say the Pentagon sees the Israeli war to crush Arafat as an extension of the U.S. war on terrorism and that the most we can do today is conflict management.

Is that how you see things, sir? And how does that fit into your advocacy from an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state?

Wolfowitz: No, it's not how I see things, and Tom Friedman didn't talk to me and I don't know who on earth he was talking to come to those conclusions.

I've said it. I said it in my Monterey speech, I've said it on other occasions, the President has said it, which is much more important, that this conflict does not have a military solution. There has to be a political solution. That political solution clearly is one that includes the end of the Israeli occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state. And the recognition by the Palestinians and the Arabs of Israel's right to exist within secure borders.

I think the single greatest obstacle to getting to that solution today is terrorism and particularly the suicide bombings.

I think if we could get statesmen with the kind of creative vision that Anwar Saddat had 25 years ago we could really move forward.

Kalb: Do you see Arafat in that category?

Wolfowitz: That I'm willing to say he clearly isn't. But Saddat was, unfortunately, in almost a class by himself. We could use another one.

Question: -- Lawrence with the BBC of the World.

I'm wondering if the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq would necessarily preclude a U.S. military intervention there? And what is the U.S. [unintelligible] against Iraq at the moment?

Wolfowitz: It's been I guess four years since the inspectors were kicked out of Iraq and I think closer to five years since there were effective inspections there. And even when they were at their most effective it was a very difficult slog. And in fact under the leadership of Ralph Akayas who did as good a job as one could imagine and then Richard Butler, I can't remember, I think it was under Akayas that they were on the verge actually of saying they didn't think Iraq had biological weapons. Then Saddam Hussein's son-in-law defected with piles of documents. It turned out there was a lot of stuff around that they hadn't been able to find.

So it's a huge challenge now. You've had four or five years without inspections. There's no son-in-law in sight to defect. In fact after what happened to the last one, I doubt if there will be too many more. So this is a huge challenge. It's a big problem. I don't have an answer to it, but it is a big problem.

Question: Thank you, sir. I am visiting from India.

Right now there is a potential for conflict in that part of the world and we have your representative negotiating between India and Pakistan right now.

How do you see as a permanent, long lasting solution to the dispute that's going on in that part of the world? As an option of all the options. Thank you.

Wolfowitz: Rather than take your invitation to go into the long term ultimate solution, it seems to me, thought it's got to be addressed at some point. There are big problems there. I really believe strongly that what President Musharraf is trying to do in Pakistan is hugely important for all of us, including I believe, in India. That Pakistan was a country heading into very deep trouble before September 11th. There were a lot of people there who I think said September 11th is a great thing and let's figure out how we can help bin Laden. It was a very bold move on Musharraf's part to say this is not where I want Pakistan going. I'm prepared to cooperate with the United States in this effort to go after terrorists, and he has cooperated impressively.

I think within his own country he's taken some very bold measures to try to get terrorism under control. There's still more work to be done, but I think we all have a huge stake in that success, and if we can build on that success, that's the route to a longer-term solution.

Kalb: Do you see an imminent outbreak of conflict between Pakistan and India?

Wolfowitz: I hope not. We have been very concerned by the buildup of forces on both sides. But I think a war between those two countries would be a terrible mistake and we are working very hard to prevent that.

Question: Lynn Joyner from the School for Advanced International Studies.

This morning's newspaper had a big article about increased money for the CIA, a new increase of money for the FBI. Today you have said that to really get at the roots of the terrorism and the bad image the United States has we have a lot of work to do with the moderate Muslims. I would submit to you we have a lot of work to do with people all over the world, no matter what their cultural or religious background is.

I don't see the United States putting its money where its mount is in terms of both root causes of education and health, for example, and I wonder what the thinking is within this Administration? You can't just keep talking about new weapons.

Wolfowitz: It's State Department money, but I think there's, I know, well over a billion dollars, I think close to two billion dollars, in the supplemental request for the State Department for foreign assistance precisely to deal with some of the things that you're talking about. No one says you can just do this with weapons.

You also, by the way, can't do it just by pouring money at things. When it comes to how do you build education systems, for example, it is a challenge.

I keep asking, in fact, about Afghanistan, can't we do more faster with hospitals and schools and roads. I think we're doing a lot. It turns out the military moves a lot faster than the UN bureaucracy does. That's about all I can say.

But those are very important things. We've got to put money into them, there's no question about it.

Hess: We promised that we would let the Secretary get on to his next meeting at about this time. We have had, as one would always expect to have in a conversation with Paul Wolfowitz, a fascinating, interesting and civilized morning. We thank him very much.

Wolfowitz: Thank you.


Kalb: Thanks very, very much.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).