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03 November 2003

Wolfowitz Says War on Terrorism Requires Greater Outreach

Campaign should reach beyond governments to individuals

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says winning the war on terrorism requires outreach that "must go beyond governments."

"We must reach out to individuals because they are the real focal point of liberal democracy and of the rule of justice under law. They are the true engines of change," he said.

Speaking to students at Georgetown University in Washington October 30, Wolfowitz emphasized the importance of being "more attentive to moderate voices in the Muslim world, for the better we can be at encouraging and amplifying those voices, the more effective we will be in leading the world ... toward ... values that will bring lasting peace."

Wolfowitz said he believes "there are hundreds of millions of moderate and tolerant people in the Muslim world who aspire to enjoy the blessings of freedom and democracy and free enterprise and equal justice under law." And, he added, "We must speak to them."

The battle of ideas "is not only fought in news media and newspapers and books and public debate," according to Wolfowitz, "it's also fought in those madrasas [religious schools] ... where poor children are given a chance to get off the streets and to study, but what they're taught there is not real learning. ... It's the tools that turn them into terrorists."

He suggested the possibility of funding moderate religious schools. Many Muslims, Wolfowitz said, have spoken out "against those who have tried to hijack their religion. Unfortunately, all too often, they have to do so in the face of threats and intimidation from well-funded extremists."

As a former ambassador to Indonesia, Wolfowitz said that he has friends in that country "who are exponents of moderation" who have a hard time finding funds for moderate schools and libraries to teach Muslims the truth about their religion, yet "the extremists can go around the world and get large quantities [of funds] without any difficulty." It is not a matter of not having resources with which to respond, he explained, but "we lack the means to deliver them."

Another factor in relations with the Muslim world, according to Wolfowitz, "is the continuing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians." The solution "can only come through political means," he said.

The deputy secretary suggested that the cause of peace in the Middle East "will be enormously advanced if Israelis and Palestinians can demonstrate overwhelming numbers in support of compromise and in opposition to terrorism."

He pointed to the need for change on both sides. President Bush has talked about the issue of Israeli settlements, Israel's construction of a wall, and the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Wolfowitz noted. "There's no question that the president is prepared to put pressure on the Israelis to change," he said, and "there also has to be change on the Palestinian side."

If the Palestinians could adopt the ways of Mahatma Gandhi, Wolfowitz predicted "they could, in fact, make enormous change very ... quickly. I believe the power of individuals demonstrating peacefully is enormous."

It is important to achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians and to succeed in Iraq, Wolfowitz said, because with the attainment of those twin goals "moderates throughout the Muslim world will be able to stand taller and stronger because they will have two important successes that will greatly strengthen their hand."

Following are excerpts from Wolfowitz's remarks:

(begin excerpt)

NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense

DoD News Briefing Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz Thursday, October 30, 2003

We do need to do a better job of explaining our policies abroad because that is part of winning the war on terrorism, the battle of ideas.

Some try to say that there is a war on Islam. There is certainly no war between the West and Islam. There is a battle against the Muslim mainstream, against such underlying values as the rule of law, but this battle is being waged by the same vicious extremists that are waging war against what they believe we stand for. It is a false distinction. Whether we're talking about the Koran, the Bible, or the Geneva Convention, there is a common universal regard for human life. There are fundamental moral protections for human rights and the lives of the innocent.

These extremists kill without reservation. They corrupt the hopeless with false promises, that suicide and murder are the paths to heaven. And they use holy places, and orphanages and hospitals as military platforms. But they are only a small minority of the more than one billion Muslims in the world.

They have not only declared war against Islam, but against the civilized world. We saw that on September 11, 2001 when hundreds of Muslims were among the innocent thousands who died that day.

I saw it first-hand on Sunday, when they attacked people sleeping in their beds in a hotel. We saw it in the attacks against the International Red Cross and the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. We saw it when they exploded a bomb outside one of the holiest shrines of Shia Islam, killing one of Iraq's most important potential leaders.

These factors and more make moderate Muslims and the rest of the civilized world natural and necessary allies. That puts us on the same side as the majority of the world's Muslims.

Clearly we face a struggle over modernity and secularism, pluralism and democracy, real economic development. Those ideas scare extremists because their success, the success of those ideas, would mean the lessening of the terrorists' iron grip on the people they seek to control and oppress. That is exactly why the terrorists are fighting along with the remnants of the Saddam regime in Iraq today. They fear what success in Iraq will mean for them.

Given the scope of the evil of the terrorism we now oppose, this fight for a just and peaceful world is not one to be waged only by the United States, or only by the countries of the West. It is a fight that is being fought -- and must be fought -- by all who aspire for peace and freedom. That aspiration is what the terrorists seek to destroy. And it is a fight that must be fought most emphatically in the Muslim world and by Muslims themselves.

So part of our outreach must go beyond governments -- good ones as well as bad. We must reach out to individuals because they are the real focal point of liberal democracy, and of the rule of justice under law. They are the true engines of change.

We must become, I think, more attentive to moderate voices in the Muslim world, for the better we can be at encouraging and amplifying those voices, the more effective we will be in leading the world, as the president said, toward those values that will bring lasting peace.

I would point out that Americans aren't the only ones who suffer from vicious mischaracterization in the battle of ideas. Recall the bombing in Najaf that took the life of Mohammed Bakar al-Hakim. Some speculated, many here in the United States, that that horrendous act would lead to attacks of Shia on Sunni, but instead of violence, hundreds of thousands of people turned out to mourn and to witness the funeral procession of Ayatollah Hakim as it passed by, and they behaved in a manner like their behavior back in April at the remarkable reinauguration of the Al-Brahim pilgrimage. They behaved with remarkable calm and restraint.

I know from my own experiences that there are serious discussions going on among Muslims throughout the world who want to move their community into modernity. Unfortunately, we so often see that the shrill rhetoric of extremism many times drowns out the more moderate voices.

In reaching out to the Muslim world it is essential that we all carry our share of the burden. Like the Cold War, the global war on terrorism is a war of ideas and it promises, as President Kennedy said a long time ago, to be a "long, twilight struggle". This country will do its part and finish the job that has begun in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we'll find more ways to support moderate Muslims the world over.

But this is a fight that cannot be won by the West alone. In fact the fight against the killers who pervert and exploit a great world religion is most effectively fought by Muslims themselves. It is more appropriate for Muslims to refute the extremists' false arguments -- that Islam condones terrorism and suicide bombing, or the killing of innocent men, women and children.

Muslim voices are the ones that will be most effective in calling for the reform of Madrasas that deny Muslim children any opportunity to cope and excel in the modern world.

Muslims are the only ones who can dispute theologically the extremist teachings that are distributed free to millions.

And many good decent Muslims have spoken out against those who have tried to hijack their religion. Unfortunately, all too often, they have to do so in the face of threats and intimidation from well-funded extremists.

We should do everything we can to support those moderate voices and assist their courage in speaking out. That is just one of many reasons why it is so important for us not only to succeed in Iraq, but also to achieve a peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Because when those two goals are attained, moderates throughout the Muslim world will be able to stand taller and stronger because they will have two important successes that will greatly strengthen their hand.

My own experiences throughout the years have taught me that when we appeal to and support those who advocate the values of human dignity, free speech, equal justice, respect for women, and religious tolerance, that President Bush spoke of in his State of the Union address last year -- all the things that Americans stand for -- things can and do change.

In my second tour of the Department of Defense in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, we witnessed a striking change in one part of Iraq in the Kurdish-controlled north. We saw an example of the kind of self-government that Muslims can achieve, giving a lie to those who say that Islam and democracy are incompatible. They were beyond the reach of Saddam's regime but unfortunately still under the same U.N. sanctions. People enjoyed, and enjoy today a level of prosperity that far surpassed the rest of the country.

I know that here at Georgetown you have a keen interest in these things and you understand that ideas like pluralism and tolerance and self-government evolve with time, with persistence, and with hard work. It was that way in our country, it's taken us more than two centuries to get to where we are now, and we're certainly not perfect.

Based on my own experiences with Muslims, not only during my three years as U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, but with Arabs and Turks and Bosnians and Pakistanis and Malaysians and many others, my own outlook is prudently optimistic despite the many obstacles. I believe there are hundreds of millions of moderate and tolerant people in the Muslim world who aspire to enjoy the blessings of freedom and democracy and free enterprise and equal justice under law. We must speak to them, and there are many of you in this room who can help to do that.

Clearly, one huge factor in our relations with the Muslim world, as well as one of the greatest obstacles to peace in that region, is the continuing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. It is clear that the solution of this conflict can only come through political means.

President Bush has made it clear the importance that we attach to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. As the president said, the outline of a solution has been clear for some time and it's based on two fundamental elements: The acknowledgement of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state within secure and recognized boundaries; and the creation of a Palestinian state that brings an end to Israeli occupation and provides a better life for its citizens and security for its neighbors.

There are thousands of Israelis and Palestinians who feel the same way. How do I know? Right now there is a significant grassroots movement that has already gotten some 90,000 Israeli signatures and some 60,000 Palestinian signatures in support of principles that look very much like the roadmap favoring a two-state solution.

I had the privilege last week of meeting with the two organizers of that petition, Sari Nusseibeh, a Palestinian, and Amit Ayalon, an Israeli. One of the keys to achieving peace is to somehow mobilize majorities on both sides so that the extremists who oppose it can be isolated.

As Americans we know there are times when great changes can spring from the grassroots. There are also times when great leaders can point the way to breakthroughs. In one of those latter moments, Anwar Sadat addressed the Israeli Knesset in 1977 and he said, "Any life that is lost in war is a human life, be it that of an Arab or an Israeli. Innocent children who are deprived of the care and compassion of their parents are ours. They are ours," the president of Egypt said, whether they live in Arab lands or in Israel."

And then he made a point that bears reflecting upon today. "There are moments in the lives of nations and peoples," he said, "when those who shoulder great responsibilities must have the courage to make decisions that fit the magnitude of the situation, and never to forget that infallibility belongs to God alone."

Most of what progress has been made in the Arab-Israeli peace process over the years is owed to the courage and statesmanship of some brave leaders -- both Arabs and Israelis. Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin, King Hussein of Jordan, and Shimon Peres of Israel. But as we know here in the United States, great change can sometimes be mobilized from the bottom up. In either case, the cause of peace in the Middle East will be enormously advanced if Israelis and Palestinians can demonstrate overwhelming numbers in support of compromise and in opposition to terrorism.

Achieving the president's vision of two states living side by side in peace will be difficult. As the scenes of suffering and carnage that we witness so often in the Middle East clearly attest, one of the greatest obstacles to achieving that vision is terrorism.

Twenty years have passed since 241 U.S. Marines, stationed in Beirut as peacekeepers, were killed as they slept when a truck loaded with explosives slammed into their barracks. Even more than that deadly attack, the withdrawal of the Marines told the world -- and told the terrorists -- that terrorism succeeds.

Twenty years later we will send them the opposite message. And if it's to be "a long, hard slog" as Secretary Rumsfeld has said, to send terrorists that message, we as a country are up to it. We can't afford to do anything less. We can't afford to quit on the battlefield and we can't afford to quit in the battle of ideas. We can't and we won't.

Now is the time for boldness and action. We are fortunate to have a president who is willing to make decisions that do fit the magnitude of the situation we face. And we are extremely fortunate to have brave men and women who have volunteered to serve this nation both in uniform, and as public servants, here at home and throughout the world, risking their lives so that the rest of us can live more safely.

I'd like to close with one more story from my diplomatic years, if you'll indulge me. I think some of you know -- Tom, Mark probably went through this experience. When George Schultz was Secretary of State every new ambassador heading out to their post would go to his office for a picture that you could hang proudly in your office and show all your foreign friends on what close terms you were with your boss. And each time a new ambassador would come in George would take them to this enormous globe that stood on the floor some three or four feet tall, and he'd casually say, "Just for this picture turn the globe to your country." The new diplomat would eagerly spin the globe around to France or Mali or Germany, at which point the secretary of state would say, "No, let me explain something." And he would slowly turn that giant globe back to the United States of America.

I have to confess by the time I went to Indonesia, I'd already heard the story so fortunately I passed that exam, but I think his exercise illustrates two important things. First, the security of this country is legitimately first and foremost in our minds. And second, that people around the world look to the United States for leadership. Not just military leadership, but as an example of justice and representative government in opposition to terrorism, the greatest evil of our time.

When we guard our own interest, when we protect the things that make America what it is, we help shape a secure and peaceful world. That is the goal of our foreign policy, and that should be a goal for all of you entering the field of Foreign Service.

I firmly believe that the future does not belong to those who seek to tear down and destroy, whether it be buildings or religions or opportunities for others to advance. The future belongs to those who work to build a world based on justice and freedom and peace. This room I know is full of potential builders.

I challenge you to take up this battle of ideas. We need you. Our country needs you. The world needs you.

Thank you.


Q: Hi, my name is Courtney Raj. I'm a second year MSFS student. I'm going into international journalism. I'd [extract] a quote from what you said, that those who advocate free speech. And the things that the U.S. stands for can and do change things. I'd like to point out that our freedom of speech was taken away here when they had a banner. That was a free expression of speech. I think that's a shame at any university like this, first of all. [Applause]

Anyway, my question has to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You said that you need to look no further than U.N. resolutions, that you need to respect communal universal human rights, the Geneva Convention, etc. And I was wondering if this applies to Israel as well.

You have the Chief of Staff coming out and saying that the Israeli security policies towards the Palestinians are harmful to Israeli security and to Palestinians. They violate Geneva Convention 53, and tons of other human rights of these Palestinians.

So I'm wondering is the president, as you said, he's ready to make decisions of the magnitude needed for change. Is he ready to make decisions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will lend greater support to the Palestinians and ask the Israelis to stop these policies that are detrimental to the Palestinians and adding to the hopelessness that may be at the root cause of some of the suicide bombings? [Applause]

Wolfowitz: Obviously there's a great deal that has to change on both sides. You cited some things that Israelis have to change and you could make a longer list. You could have talked about settlements, for example. The president has talked about settlements, he's talked about the wall, he's talked about the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. There's no question that the p resident is prepared to put pressure on the Israelis to change. There also has to be change on the Palestinian side.

And I really do believe that the single greatest obstacle is terrorism. If the Palestinians would adopt the ways of Gandhi, I think they could in fact make enormous change very, very quickly. I believe the power of individuals demonstrating peacefully is enormous.

But in any case, I think what the president has set out, what Secretary of State Powell has set out, seems to me to be at this point in history the best way forward. And I do have to say, contrary to what you may have heard, foreign policy is made in the State Department, and I need to be very careful about getting in the way of Secretary Powell's diplomacy. I think it's pointed in the right direction.

I do believe, as I said in my remarks, that the solution unfortunately has been awfully clear for a very long time. We came, it seems to me, tragically close at Tabah to getting to that solution. It began to look early this spring as thought we might once again be on that path and this time with the active support of major governments in the region. The bombings, and the violent response to the bombings in the last couple of months have certainly been a big setback, and we've got to get it back on track.

Q: Hi. In Richard Neustadt's book about presidential power he talks about the president's ability to use persuasion as his true leverage. Given your different vantage points and different administrations, particularly wartime presidents, how would you asses President Bush's ability to persuade the nation and other foreign leaders that their main goal is in the best interest of Muslims in the war on terror?

Wolfowitz: Obviously we still have a long way to go, but I believe we've done some remarkable things over the last 10 years for which the world ought to be giving us more credit, under three different administrations. If you stop and think about it I think it's seven times since the liberation of Kuwait in 1991,that the United States has put young American men and women into combat or near-combat situations in order to defend people from aggression or tyranny or war-imposed starvation. I'm counting the liberation of Kuwait, the liberation of northern Iraq later in 1991, the ending of the starvation in Somalia, the actions in Bosnia that brought an end to that horrible civil war, the intervention in Kosovo that brought an end to the repression there, the liberation of Afghanistan in 2001, and now more recently in Iraq. In every case, we happen to have been advancing the cause of a majority Muslim population and Americans died and were wounded for those causes. We also believe we were advancing the security of our country. But I think we deserve a little more credit for that.

How we go about getting it, I'm not quite sure. But I think one of the big challenges is what you mentioned. Trying to persuade people in the middle of wartime is a difficult thing to do. The action in Kosovo, even as relatively mild as it was, was enormously controversial until it was successful.

I think as we move forward, a year or two from now when people look back on this, when my friends in Indonesia who now are so critical of what we're doing in Iraq have a chance to actually visit Iraq and hear from Iraqis what's been done for them and what they're doing for themselves, I think that opinion will begin to change. But other things have to happen as well.

I mentioned the Arab/Israeli issue. That is obviously a key.

But finally, this particular battle of ideas is not only fought in news media and newspapers and books and public debate, it's also fought in those Madrasas that I referred to, where poor children are given a chance to get off the streets and to study, but what they're taught there is not real learning. It's not the tools for coping with the modern world. It's the tools that turn them into terrorists.

So I think again, education, but in a way that we've never had to think so seriously about it before. Making funds available to the thousands and thousands of moderate religious schools, and this country isn't very good at supporting religious schools. We have some constitutional difficulties there.

But I saw in Indonesia how what they there call Pasantrans, Muslim-based boarding schools, had been a vehicle of giving poor children a chance to succeed in the world. Teaching them that their religion is a religion of tolerance, and teaching them to respect other religions in their country.

So schools like that which don't get Gulf oil money ought to be able to get support from the rest of the world. That's part of this battle as well.

But let's go back and read our own history of the Civil War. Persuading people in the middle of war is a difficult challenge. Success, though, at the end of the day, also persuades people.

Q: Secretary Wolfowitz, with Iraq having been labeled as the central front in the war on terrorism and with much focus having been put on Iran, I have the following question.

The radicalization of Islam in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia can be traced to foreign Wahabi ideological influences. Should the global networks of Wahabism be confronted as perhaps one of the if not the core base of bin Ladinistic terrorism? If so, how?

Wolfowitz: That's a huge question and it's a good question. I'm going to just bite off a small piece of it.

But I would question a little bit the premise, that phrase the "radicalization of Islam in Indonesia." It implies that Indonesia's 200 million Muslims have been radicalized and I don't think that's the case.

I could almost argue with you that they have been radicalized in exactly the opposite sense by the brutal attack in Bali in the fall of last year. Just as Americans were radicalized in the opposite sense by the attacks of September 11th.

More and more Indonesians I believe are accepting that their country has a problem with extremism and terrorism and they're standing up against it. So that radicalization, at least in the case of Indonesia, I think applies to, I don't want to guess at a number, but suppose the number was as great as 20,000. You can do the math. It's a tiny, tiny percentage of the 200 million people in that country. But 20,000 people, and I don't think it's anything like that, it just takes a few dozen people to do the Bali bombing or the Jakarta bombing and they're out there. But the Indonesians are getting much more serious about dealing with it.

I do think that the funding of extremism is not, though, just a funding of bombers. It is the funding of schools that teach hatred, of schools that teach terrorism. And to the extent that we can bring influence to bear on countries whose governments, or perhaps just their leading citizens, are putting money into those kinds of enterprises, I think we should do so. But I believe the stronger counter is going to be not cutting off those sources of funds, much as I'd like to do it, but to be able to channel support to the people who oppose them. We're not very good at doing that yet.

Analogies are dangerous, and when people first made analogies between this war on terror and the Cold War my initial reaction was to think they're completely different things. I think there are some similarities, and I do think that one of them was that during the Cold War the people who said that the enemy is the Left, the enemy is anyone who calls themselves a Marxist, whether they're democratic Marxists or not, were obviously wrong. The greatest enemy of totalitarian Marxism were the Democratic Socialists of Europe, and we learned to work with them.

Part of what we learned how to do, although we did some things that we've now made illegal, and maybe appropriately so, were to find ways of giving material support to people who were on the front lines of those battles of ideas.

It does seem to me that it's an odd situation, despite obviously the Gulf countries have a lot of money to pass around. But it's an odd situation where some of my friends in Indonesia who are exponents of moderation have difficulty in this world getting funding for moderate libraries and schools that can teach young Muslims the true teachings of their religion, but the extremists can go around the world and get large quantities without any difficulty. It's not that we lack the resources. We lack the means to deliver them. That's a challenge that we need to work on, I think.

Q: Hi, Mr. Wolfowitz. My name is Ruthy Coffman. I think I speak for many of us here when I say that your policies are deplorable. They're responsible for the deaths of innocents and the disintegration of American civil liberties. [Applause] We are tired, Secretary Wolfowitz, of being feared and hated by the world. We are tired of watching Americans and Iraqis die, and international institutions cry out in anger against us. We are simply tired of your policies. We hate them, and we will never stop opposing them. We will never tire or falter in our search for justice. And in the name of this ideal and the ideal of freedom, we assembled a message for you that was taken away from us and that message says that the killing of innocents is not the solution, but rather the problem. Thank you. [Applause and jeers]

Wolfowitz: I have to infer from that that you would be happier if Saddam Hussein were still in power. [Applause]

I wish you could have come with me in July when we visited a little Marsh Arab village called al Amarah near the Iranian border. To get there you have to fly over desert the size of New Jersey. It is a man-made desert, created by Saddam Hussein in the aftermath of the Gulf War. For thousands of years it's been a lush marsh. The Marsh Arabs are one of the oldest continuous human civilizations. They had figured out how to get milk out of water buffalo by breeding a new kind of water buffalo. It's not a small achievement. They produced some very large percentage of the vegetables for the entire country. They were peaceful people, but they also provided a refuge for the rebels that Saddam Hussein feared. So in the true traditions of Nebuchadnezzar, he simply proceeded to wipe them out by drying them out, by creating an environmental catastrophe.

There were half a million Marsh Arabs in 1991. The estimates today are somewhere between 40,000 and 200,000. When we got off the helicopters, the population was overwhelmingly women and children. The children's hair had that ugly rusty color that indicates severe malnutrition. But they were smiling and cheering and saying "Thank you Bush", "Down with Saddam" and finally hopeful that they might have a future.

For most of the Marsh Arabs liberation was too late, but for those people it came just in time. I think you ought to think about that. They're innocents as well. Far, far more innocent.

This has been a war that's been -- War is an ugly business. It is a brutal business. And a lot of those innocents died, by the way, because Saddam Hussein put his weapons in hospitals and other places. But it's ugly and it's brutal. But the alternative was far, far uglier, far more brutal. There's no question about that in my mind. [Applause]

Q: I'd just like to say that people like Ruthy and myself have always opposed Saddam Hussein, especially when Saddam Hussein was being funded by the United States throughout the '80s. And -- [Applause] And after the killings of the Kurds when the United States increased aid to Iraq. We were there opposing him as well. People like us were there. We are for democracy. And I have a question.

What do you plan to do when Bush is defeated in 2004 and you will no longer have the power to push forward the project for New American Century's policy of American military and economic dominance over the people of the world? [Applause]

Wolfowitz: I don't know if it was just Freudian or you intended to say it that way, but you said you opposed Saddam Hussein especially when the United States supported him.

It seems to me that the north star of your comment is that you dislike this country and its policies. [Applause] And it seems to me a time to have supported the United States and to push the United States harder was in 1991 when Saddam Hussein was slaughtering those innocents so viciously.

Look, let's back up a little bit. You and I should both calm down a little here.

Q: OK. [Laughter]

Wolfowitz: This is not ideological, I don't believe. I think it is a moral issue. I respect the fact that you and the last questioner have deep moral concerns. War is an ugly thing. I agree with that. But butchers like Saddam Hussein are incredibly ugly.

I've known a lot of dictators fairly up close and personal. I take some pride in having helped to get rid of Ferdinand Marcos. I tried to get some changes in Indonesia and I took some pleasure when President Suharto left. But to quote that famous vice presidential debate, or to paraphrase it from a few years ago, Ferdinand Marcos was no Saddam Hussein. Ferdinand Marcos was not responsible for the deaths of a million Muslims.

I don't think there's much question here about the morality of having gotten rid of that regime. I also think that it's worth stopping and thinking from the point of view of the Iraqi people, and I'm not saying that they're the ones who should vote in our election. We should decide our president based on who Americans think is good for the American people. But I have to tell you that it sends a very unsettling message to Iraqis that our elections might decide their future.

When I visited the city of Najaf in July, met with the town council, and as I guess most of you, a well-informed audience know, this is one of the two holy cities of Shia Islam. It was pretty remarkable to be sitting with a town council that included one woman, a religious cleric as the head, and about 15 or 16 professionals for the most part in the rest of the group.

One of these professionals, I can't remember whether he was an architect or an engineer, asked me a two-part question. Part two, I'll start with, borders on the paranoid. He said are you Americans just holding Saddam Hussein as a trump card over our head? You may think that's paranoid, but if you'd been through what they went through in 1991, the suspicions about our intentions run very deep. The fear of what can happen to them if that regime comes back is palpable and enormous.

But the first question wasn't paranoid at all. In fact it was pretty sophisticated. He said what's going to happen to us if George Bush loses the election?

I told him as best I could, and I still believe it, that at bottom, no matter how partisan we get in our political debates, the American people stay to a certain center. If you look at the perseverance we had over many years of the Cold War, in spite of some pretty fierce policy debates, the United States really did stay the course. I think I did a pretty good job, maybe not of convincing him completely, but convincing him that we were with the people of Iraq until they succeeded.

I think this Madrid Conference sends a message that it's not just the United States. It's 70 countries in the world. And the fact that Najaf is now under the direction of a Spanish brigade with a Polish commander probably sends a good message.

But I have to tell you that when they hear the message that we might not be there next year they get very scared, and that fear leads them not to give us information about where the bad people are. It leads them not to want to serve on the town councils. It leads them not to want to risk their lives as policemen.

There are thousands of Iraqis right now who are risking their lives for future freedom for that country, and I think it would be good if they got an unequivocal message of support from this country. Thank you. [Applause]

Q: I'm a second year student in the securities studies graduate program here. My question is in the PBS Frontline documentary, Truth, War and Consequences that aired this October and that you can see on their web site, a U.S. tank crew comes across a few men and a boy who had stolen a few pieces of wood. The U.S. soldiers made the men and the boy step aside, then they opened fire on the car with handguns for fun before running it over twice with their tank. One of the soldiers then said something along the lines of this is what happens when you loot.

It turns out that the driver of the car was a taxi driver and the car was his only means of making a living.

My question is, will you make a personal commitment here today to look into this incident and see that the soldiers involved are punished and the owner of the car given a new vehicle and other compensation?

Wolfowitz: We are looking into it. Mistakes, pretty ugly mistakes can get made in wartime. That is, again, one of the reasons why if you can find a peaceful way to resolve things it is so much better.

I would remind everybody here, I don't think you need much reminding, it wasn't so long before that incident when people were saying why don't you shoot a few looters in Baghdad because this looting is causing terrible disruption, it's causing the looting of the National Museum, although that begins to look as though it may have been a different kind of activity. Looting has been a serious problem. I don't know what mistakes, why those mistakes were made in the particular incident that you described.

I do know that the best way to change that situation is not to put more American troops into Iraq to deal with the security problems there. It's to get more and more Iraqis on the front lines. They are much less likely to make those mistakes, and if they do make those mistakes it's an issue, not between the United States and the Iraqi people, but between Iraqis.

That was a legitimate question and we're looking into it. Thank you.

Q: I hope the press holds you to it. [Applause]

Voice: Mr. Secretary, thank you not only for your statements, but most particularly for engaging in this conversation with our students.

Let me now in closing this, ask Dean Galucci to present the Oscar Iden plaque, which states, "This plaque is presented in appreciation to the 24th Oscar Iden lecturer, Paul D. Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense." [Applause]

(end excerpt)