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Published on January 31st, 2011 | by Ali Gharib


Wolfowitz: Tunisia/Egypt DO NOT Vindicate Iraq War

Well, not quite. But the former Pentagon under-secretary and current AEI scholar has something to say on the subject.

A recent neoconservative meme has been to assert that the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that are imperiling dictatorial regimes owe a debt of gratitude to President George W. Bush’s efforts to bring democracy to Iraq by making war on it.

This rather silly talking point (a partisan one, of course) has been promulgated by hard-liners like Elliott Abrams and Jennifer Rubin, and ably beaten back by Matt Duss.

But, lo, here comes Rubin and Abrams’s comrade to put them in their place: none other than Paul Wolfowitz. Rubin recently asked, “How much did the emergence of a democratic Iraq have to do with this popular revolt in Tunisia?”

Her and Abrams’ revisionism contends that the rise of democratic Iraq was the central tenant of Bush’s unyielding campaign to invade the country. Actually, Wolfowitz tells us, it was an afterthought:

We did not go to war in Iraq or Afghanistan to promote democracy, but rather to remove regimes that were dangerous to us and to the world. Having done that, we have attempted to enable the Iraqi and Afghan people to enjoy the benefits of free and representative government.

And, in case you didn’t get the point, he adds:

It is wrong to say that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were fought to promote democracy. Whether right or wrong, they were fought to protect ourselves and others from dangerous regimes, but once those regimes were removed we could not reimpose dictators. At the same time, we did believe that peaceful democratic change, of the kind I’ve mentioned earlier, could help to change the conditions in the Middle East that were breeding terrorists and support for terrorism.

(FYI, Paul, they were wrong: The Iraqi ‘threat’ was predicated on non-existent WMDs.)

But Wolfowitz is not finished. Rubin wants to justify invasion of a country as a way of bringing about democratic reform — that’s at the heart of her Iraq revisionism and recommendations for Iran policy. For the latter, she claims that democratic aspirations of Iranians are paramount, second even to nuclear concerns (the latter merely accelerates the need for the former).

Wolfowitz, however, is not backing down, exposing Rubin’s dishonesty (as well as others) that we can somehow drop democracy bunker-busting bombs:

Support for peaceful reform by the people themselves is the right way to promote democracy, not the use of force. To repeat again, we did not go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq to promote democracy.

I look forward to Rubin and Abrams explaining away Wolfowitz’s perspective on their blogs.

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One Response to Wolfowitz: Tunisia/Egypt DO NOT Vindicate Iraq War

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  1. avatar Jon Harrison says:

    I’m trying to remember what Wolfie was saying back in 2002. Was he so clear-cut then?

About the Author


Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.

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