|WMDs only 'bureaucratic reason' for war: Wolfowitz
May 29 2003
Los Angeles: The US decision to stress the threat posed by Iraq's supposed
weapons of mass destruction above all others was taken for "bureaucratic"
reasons to justify the war, Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was
quoted as saying in remarks released today.
Wolfowitz, seen as one of the most hawkish figures in the Bush
administration's policy on Iraq, said President Saddam Hussein's alleged
cache of chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons was merely one of
several reasons behind the decision to go to war.
"For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass
destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on,"
Wolfowitz was quoted as saying in Vanity Fair magazine's July issue.
No chemical or biological weapons have been found in Iraq despite repeated
assertions by President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair
before the March 20 invasion that the threat posed by Saddam's vast stocks
of banned weapons warranted a war to eliminate them.
The United Nations and America's allies were not convinced by the argument
that it was justification for a war, which was launched amid protests in
many world capitals. Washington's ties with major allies France and Germany
are still strained.
Wolfowitz said another reason for the invasion had been "almost unnoticed
but huge" - namely that the ousting of Saddam would allow the United States
to remove its troops from Saudi Arabia, where their presence had long been a
major al-Qaeda grievance.
"Just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to open the door"
to a more peaceful Middle East, Wolfowitz was quoted as saying.
The magazine said he made the remarks days before suicide bombings,
attributed to al-Qaeda, against Western targets in Riyadh and Casablanca two
weeks ago had killed 75 people.
The United States announced last month that it was ending military
operations in Saudi Arabia, where they have long generated Arab resentment
because of their proximity to Islam's holiest sites.
Wolfowitz's remarks were released a day after US Defence Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld, seeking to explain why no weapons of mass destruction had been
found, said Iraq may have destroyed them before the US-led invasion.