Friday, June 06, 2003

If appears the Wolfowitz story is now being blamed on bad translations. From

Wolfowitz's nonconfession
Did Paul Wolfowitz actually confess that the Iraq war was all about oil? No, he didn't -- despite the excited circulation by his critics of a damning "quotation" from him on the Internet and elsewhere. (Within the past 24 hours, dozens of messages about this story have arrived in my mailbox.) The bogus report emanated from yesterday's Guardian, which in turn cited stories from the German press about remarks made by the deputy defense secretary last weekend at a security conference in Singapore.

Evidently, the translation from English to German and back into English seriously distorted his answer to a question from a German journalist. The reporter asked Wolfowitz to explain the Bush administration's different approaches to North Korea, which probably has nuclear weapons, and Iraq, which certainly didn't.

According to the Guardian article he replied: "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil." A damning admission, except that isn't what he said. Here's the accurate quote, according to the  Defense Department transcript of the Singapore press conference (scroll down about halfway):

"Look, the primarily difference -- to put it a little too simply -- between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that, I believe, is a major point of leverage, whereas the military picture with North Korea is very different from that with Iraq. The problems in both cases have some similarities but the solutions have got to be tailored to the circumstances, which are very different."

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