Iraq, US Politics

Does Pride Indeed Cometh Before The Fall?

There are moments in life when we have to wonder how things would have turned out differently if we had taken a different road at a particular crossroads.

Today, I am wondering if it was the right decision not to read “Die Welt” on a daily basis, because the Frankfurter Allgemeine provides more than enough Conservatism for a single breakfast. Plus, journalists at “Die Welt” are contractually obliged to be pro-American. I don’t mind people being pro-American, the FAZ balanced significantly balanced the press bias in the run up to the war. But would like to have the journalists to come to that conclusion when looking at the world, not at their bank statements.

I am also wondering how I would look at this world if I had not preferred London and the LSE Government Department over the offer to join the Nitze School of Advanced International Relations in Washington under (it turned out leaving for the US DoD) Paul Wolfowitz back in 2000.

The first question came up when I realised that I found out about an interesting story “Die Welt” “ran” on Monday because it was quoted by the Guardian today. The second one when I had digested the content.

Well, I guess, part of the problem is that the original story was entitled “In North-Korea, Wolfowitz prefers a solution based on local powers” instead of “Yet another shocking admission by the US Deputy Secretary of Defense.” which, but I am evidently just guessing here, might have been a “pro-American” editorial decision.

I can’t believe the journalists would not have realised she had hit the jackpot. On the other hand, google-news doesn’t list any other newspaper that ran the story on Monday. Be that as it may, the US DoD published the transcript of the press conference, and this is what Paul Wolfowitz actually said last Sunday –

“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.”

It may be torn out of the context, but that really doesn’t change a lot.

What is going on here? Who let Wolfowitz off the leash? Why his sudden urge for ex-post truth?

Could it really be carelessness induced by smugness? Or Pride That Cometh Before The Fall? Whose Fall you’re asking? Good question – does anyone in the US administration wants to get rid of Tony Blair, quickly? Hands up, please. Der Spiegel quotes some Labour MP’s who say that “WMD-gatetm” is already worse than Watergate.

Man, I would like to get an uncensored copy of the phone conversations between Downing Street and the White House these days – it’s probably a good thing Americans only understand half the British swearwords.

UPDATE: The Guardian has pulled the story off the website. Also, check the comment section for interesting remarks and links to two discussions regarding this subject.

Rereading the quote from Wolfowitz after receiving comments by Florian and Markus I realize last night was another moment in my life when things would have turned out differently if I had taken a different road – this time, not writing stuff quickly late at night. I was wrong to say that the quote’s context doesn’t change a lot.

The North Korean comparison does make the statement a lot less clear. Now I think there are two possible interpretations, one being that economic sanctions wouldn’t work because Iraq swims in sea of oil of which it could sell enough to remain a threat, the other one being that Iraqi oil was so important for strategic reasons that there was no other way to handle the situation. I guess Wolfowitz wasn’t really let off the leash again and he intended to say the first.

UPDATE: The Guardian has a correction of yesterday’s report online. Thanks to Markku Nordstrom for the info.