Wednesday, July 30, 2003

WOLF THE CHICKENHAWK
From yesterday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony by Paul Wolfowitz and Joshua Bolten. Quite comical.

SEN. LUGAR: because of some combination of bureaucratic inertia, political caution, unrealistic expectations left over from before the war, we do not appear to be confident about our course in Iraq. Our national sense of commitment and confidence must approximate what we demonstrated during the Berlin Airlift: a sense that we could achieve the impossible, despite short time constraints and severe conditions, risk and consequence.

[...]

SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R-OH): I think you, Mr. Bolten, should be more forthright in terms of what the costs are going to be so that we have some idea, and the American people, how long, how much. I know there are some uncertainties, but I think if you can figure out a conservative number and share with us, I think it will eliminate some of the problems that you're having with some of the members of this committee and other members of Congress.

[...]

SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE (R-RI): In the months leading up to the war it was a steady drum beat of weapons of mass destruction, weapons of mass destruction, weapons of mass destruction. And, Secretary Wolfowitz, in your almost hour-long testimony here this morning, once -- only once did you mention weapons of mass destruction, and that was an ad lib. I don't think it's in any of your written testimony.

And so we're seeing shifting justifications, I think, for what we're doing there.

At a hearing in May, I asked Secretary Wolfowitz the question, a lot of your answer dealt with that it will help with the peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And now there's been allegations that this will help with our war on terrorism. But we just haven't seen the proof of any linkage between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

And now, today, it's -- the testimony is over and over again about what a despicable tyrant Saddam Hussein is, who brutalizes people.

But at the same time, in Liberia, Charles Taylor has been indicated, and according to the prosecutor, he's responsible for the killing, raping and maiming of 500,000 people. And the arrest warrant issued by the U.N.-backed court in Sierra Leone charged Taylor with unlawful killing, sexual and physical violence, use of child labor and child soldiers, looting, burning and the murder of U.N. peacekeepers. And it also alleges that Taylor had a close alliance with the notorious, murderous Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone. The RUF was infamous for dismembering its victims, having a "cut-hand" unit to chop off limbs, and a "burn house" unit to torch houses of suspected opponents. And Taylor once had his 13-year-old daughter publicly flogged for misbehaving in school. At the same time, Human Rights Watch is saying that Charles Taylor is one of the single greatest causes of spreading wars in West Africa.

And so all the testimony this morning, and indeed, the submission of the op eds, is about what a tyrant Saddam Hussein is, who brutalizes the people. But we're doing nothing in Liberia.

[...]

SEN. BIDEN: How much will you be requesting for the remainder of the year, if any, from the United States Congress to fund that need?

MR. BOLTEN: We don't anticipate requesting anything additional for the balance of this year.

SEN. BIDEN: What do you anticipate for '04?

MR. BOLTEN: I don't know the answer to that. Ambassador Bremer is -- has laid out a reasonably specific budget for the balance of '03, and I think he had an opportunity to discuss that with you. But even that was relatively crude, because of -- they're just getting a handle on so many of the variables that are in play right now.

SEN. BIDEN: Do you anticipate we'll be continuing to spend $4 billion a month for our troops in Iraq, for '04?

MR. BOLTEN: That's roughly what we're spending now. Looking out over the immediate term, we don't have any reason to expect a dramatic change in that number, but I wouldn't want to predict beyond the next couple of months, because the situation is so variable.

SEN. BIDEN: Don't you have to -- I mean, we're talking about the '04 budget. We're going to be voting on that in the next couple months. What the devil are you going to ask us for?

MR. BOLTEN: Well, the -- in the '04 budget -- and Senator, we've -- as you know, we've been very explicit about it -- we have not included the incremental costs of our fighting forces in Iraq, nor the costs of reconstruction. So you --

SEN. BIDEN: Why?

MR. BOLTEN: Simply because we don't know what they will be. We will --

SEN. BIDEN: Oh, come on now! Does anybody here at the table think we're going to be down below 100,000 forces in the next calendar year? Raise your hand, any one of you. You know it's going to be more than that. See, you know at least it's going to be $2-1/2 billion a month. Give me a break, will you? When are you guys starting to be honest with us? Come on! I mean, this is ridiculous. You're not even --

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Senator, to suggest that this is an issue of honesty really is very --

SEN. BIDEN: It is a suggestion --

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Oh, it isn't. It is very misleading.

SEN. BIDEN: -- of candor, of candor, of candor. You know there's going to be at least 100,000 American forces there for the next calendar year, and you're not asking us for any money --

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Senator, I don't know what we're going to have there.

SEN. BIDEN: Let me finish, please. Let me finish.

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Okay.

SEN. BIDEN: And you are not asking us for any money in next year's budget for those troops. Now what do you call that?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Senator, there will be a supplemental request. There is no question about that. And there will be a supplemental request when we think we can make a reasonably good estimate of what will get us through the whole year, so that we don't have to keep coming up here with one supplemental request after another.

So I don't sit here and say, well, maybe the number is going to be 100,000, and then it turns out it's 120,000, and then people accuse us of being misleading or dishonest.

[...]

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): I hope you saw the same display that we saw of well-intended Iraqis who are signed up to come back, that almost looked like the Katzenjammer Kids as they tried to parade for us. They're well- meaning, they're trying hard, but boy do they need a lot of work. A lot of work.
A Biden-Wolfowitz match-up. Always fun.

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