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January 08, 2005

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Fools? (Paul Wolfowitz Edition)

Kevin Drum serves up some vintage Paul Wolfowitz:

The Washington Monthly: VINTAGE WOLFOWITZ....In celebration of Paul Wolfowitz's decision to stay at the Pentagon, I'd like to take this chance to reprint my favorite Wolfowitz testimony of all time. This is from the New York Times account of Wolfowitz's testimony before Congress on February 28, 2003, a mere three weeks before the invasion of Iraq:

Mr. Wolfowitz...opened a two-front war of words on Capitol Hill, calling the recent estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, "wildly off the mark." Pentagon officials have put the figure closer to 100,000 troops.

....In his testimony, Mr. Wolfowitz ticked off several reasons why he believed a much smaller coalition peacekeeping force than General Shinseki envisioned would be sufficient to police and rebuild postwar Iraq. He said there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq, as there was in Bosnia or Kosovo.

He said Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led liberation force that "stayed as long as necessary but left as soon as possible," but would oppose a long-term occupation force. And he said that nations that oppose war with Iraq would likely sign up to help rebuild it. "I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq in reconstruction," Mr. Wolfowitz said. He added that many Iraqi expatriates would likely return home to help.

....Enlisting countries to help to pay for this war and its aftermath would take more time, he said. "I expect we will get a lot of mitigation, but it will be easier after the fact than before the fact," Mr. Wolfowitz said. Mr. Wolfowitz spent much of the hearing knocking down published estimates of the costs of war and rebuilding, saying the upper range of $95 billion was too high....Moreover, he said such estimates, and speculation that postwar reconstruction costs could climb even higher, ignored the fact that Iraq is a wealthy country, with annual oil exports worth $15 billion to $20 billion. "To assume we're going to pay for it all is just wrong," he said.

You just can't make this stuff up.

Posted by DeLong at January 8, 2005 12:52 PM

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Tracked on January 9, 2005 11:42 PM


So when does he get promoted?

Posted by: mrjauk at January 8, 2005 02:32 PM

We need a national campaign to convince Wolfowitz to do the honorable thing and commit suicide.

Posted by: paulo at January 8, 2005 02:54 PM

"We need a national campaign to convince Wolfowitz to do the honorable thing and commit suicide."

I have a better idea....why don't we offer Wolfowitz to al Sistani in exchange for Zarqawi?

Posted by: paul_lukasiak at January 8, 2005 03:02 PM

I had naively assumed that with Wolfie's academic background, he might hold his past predictions to a higher standard that a pure politician or spinner would. But I was wrong. And where's his Presidential Medal of Freedom?

Posted by: P O'Neill at January 8, 2005 04:07 PM

"You can't make this stuff up."

Brad, surely the whole point of wolfowitz et al is that you *can* make this stuff up, and sell it wholesale to the rubes.

Posted by: Kate Gilbert at January 8, 2005 04:25 PM

What do these pricks see when they look at themselves in a mirror?

Posted by: Steve at January 8, 2005 07:25 PM

What they see is Lysenkoism at its finest.

Posted by: Sarah at January 8, 2005 08:16 PM

After I had squandered half an hour or more on a comment for an earlier post, including some wrestling with logistics, I was ONLY THEN informed that comments were closed. Surely there IS no legitimate reason why such a revelation cannot be made at the time a comment thread is closed. Or at least during the preview process, right? So, in a fit of pique and because I'm arrogant enough to believe my points have merit, even if off-topic here, I'm moving my remarks. Perhaps they will be of some service before being deleted as unwelcome, if that is to be their fate. But perhaps also these efforts will result in some simple technological fix for future generations of would-be contributors. ====

Agreed about bookfinder.com. It always amazes me that people don't know about what IS surely the best online search engine for books. Like the Dogpile search engine, it searches multiple databases. Outstanding. ====

As for historical fiction, the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser is solid entertainment. F and the Mountain of Light details 19th century Afghanistan history, which is completely preposterous, including the real-life American freebooters who were Kipling's originals for "The Man Who Would Be King"-- one of the less unlikely parts of the tale. ====

And the description of the Chinese emperor's Summer Palace in F and the Dragon had me scarfing up the source materials. A nearly throw-away line about reading "Tom and Jerry" opened up another whole world. Seems to me that stirring up interest in further research is one important thing that historical fiction can do. So is illuminating the present. ====

In any event, accurately animating the past in a lively fashion for the reader's entertainment is certainly a starting point, and Fraser sure has that down. ====

Some people seem to manage to insert paragraph spaces in their comments, but Preview insists that my efforts to do so are a complete failure. Hence this clumsy work around. Grrr.

Posted by: Tomm at January 8, 2005 08:19 PM

Oh, I get it. Preview fails to show paragraph breaks, but they turn up in the actual post. Very helpful.

Posted by: Tomm at January 8, 2005 08:23 PM

Way, way OT here but does anyone know where Craig Garthwaite Director of Research The Employment Policies Institute got his degree from and if he actually studied econ? Is there a good place to look to see if he's published any peer-reviewed articles or any other ways to find out if he's really a credible source on the effects of the minimum wage?

Posted by: Shane Wealti at January 8, 2005 08:32 PM


Again, please stop. This kind of post does no good for Democrats. History is going to take care of Bush. Nothing can save him from his own incompetence. There are elections in two years.
Nothing can be done except to let events play out.

Rather than being negative, Demos need positive messages. Recall, "No vision, the people perish . . "

Posted by: Moe Levine at January 8, 2005 08:32 PM

'History is going to take care of Bush.' Errm, say what?
Are you talking about the same history that now 'says' bad things about Caligula? Hitler? Stalin? Where was history during the periods these people held power? From what I have read, history fawned over these rulers (meaning the historians that wrote history) while they were in power until they were out of power (or popularity in the case of Stalin). Only then did history savage these people.

History is a fickle b*tch.

Posted by: linnen at January 8, 2005 08:53 PM

Moe Levine sounds more and more like a token Democrat who has somehow escaped from the Fox News compund.

Posted by: Steve at January 8, 2005 09:31 PM

Runner-up Wolfie quote:

"It's approximately 500, of which - I can get the exact numbers - approximately 350 are combat deaths," Wolfowitz said. (Actual numbers: 722, 521) AP, 4/29/04

Posted by: Steve J. at January 8, 2005 09:33 PM

"Again, please stop. This kind of post does no good for Democrats. History is going to take care of Bush. Nothing can save him from his own incompetence. There are elections in two years.
Nothing can be done except to let events play out." --

That's exactly what they told Trotsky. "Go catch some rays in Mexico. Stalin'll be tripping over his shoelaces and pensioned off before you get a sunburn."

Posted by: NewgateCallendar at January 8, 2005 10:21 PM

My special Wolfie quote:

On the occasion of his first visit to liberated Baghdad, he remarked, apparently with out any irony at all:

"The main problem is that there are too many foreigners in Iraq."

Posted by: AsYouKnow Bob at January 8, 2005 10:21 PM

You can't just make this stuff up???

I'd like to buy two tickets to Mars now, thanks.


Posted by: Aaron at January 8, 2005 10:22 PM

For what it's worth, the Kurds were active in the Armenian genocide. If that's not a history of ethnic strife, it's hard to imagine what is. Amd of course it's not an isolated incident; the local Jews got persecuted just as soon as the USA reduced British influence in the area, a belated Arab response to the establishment of Israel (but not one that justifies oppression of Palestinians by being all part of the same thing - the Iraqi stuff happened a decade later).

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence at January 8, 2005 11:45 PM

And by the way, just let me say that I'm on board with this idea of getting Wolfowitz to commit suicide. That would help a little.

He can even lick his comb first.


Posted by: Aaron at January 9, 2005 12:15 AM

There are many parallels between the Bush administration and the Hirohito regime that led Japan first into war against China and then into WWII.

There are also parallels between our actions and experience in Iraq and Japan's in the Philippines.
The Japanese went into the Philippines expecting to be greeted as liberators, but due to poor planning and execution quickly trashed the economy, made lots of enemies, and wound up mired in a guerilla war they hadn't the resources to suppress. Among their problems were that many of the administrators they sent were unqualified; although in the Japanese case those were mostly deadwood the bureaucracies in Tokyo wanted to be free of, while in our case it seems to have been job-hunters who had put their resumes on the Heritage Foundation web site, the effects have been similar.

Rumsfeld is very much like Tojo: A master of bureaucratic infighting, but utterly lacking in judgment.

Posted by: jm at January 9, 2005 12:40 AM

How odd. Somehow the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (http://wgordon.web.wesleyan.edu/papers/coprospr.htm) worked out no better for the Japanese than the The Project for the New American Century (http://www.newamericancentury.org/) is working out for us. Hmm, perhaps foreigners could conceivably resist being civilized by bombs and bayonets. Who knew?

(Except those boring historians who don't understand that real warriors don't read books (except the generals who actually win wars)).

Posted by: Bruce Webb at January 9, 2005 05:33 AM

... and the beat goes on - these guys continue for another 4 years to bring their own version of reality to the complete mess they have made.

What price will we pay and continue to pay for the delusions of the group think reflected in Wlofowitz's perspective completely devoid of observable fact checking?

Posted by: pfknc at January 9, 2005 02:57 PM

this site doesn't seem to work well in solaris unix running mozilla.....

don't know why....but maybe someone else does and can offer a fix?

Posted by: sun at January 11, 2005 05:07 PM

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