Wednesday, June 4, 2003

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GALACTICALLY STUPID DISTORTION AT THE GUARDIAN: The headline to this Guardian story blares "Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil". Here are the lead grafs:

Oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq, a leading White House hawk has claimed, confirming the worst fears of those opposed to the US-led war.

The US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz - who has already undermined Tony Blair's position over weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by describing them as a "bureaucratic" excuse for war - has now gone further by claiming the real motive was that Iraq is "swimming" in oil.

The latest comments were made by Mr Wolfowitz in an address to delegates at an Asian security summit in Singapore at the weekend, and reported today by German newspapers Der Tagesspiegel and Die Welt.

Asked why a nuclear power such as North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq, where hardly any weapons of mass destruction had been found, the deputy defence minister said: "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."

Mr Wolfowitz went on to tell journalists at the conference that the US was set on a path of negotiation to help defuse tensions between North Korea and its neighbours - in contrast to the more belligerent attitude the Bush administration displayed in its dealings with Iraq.

Sounds pretty devastating, right? The quote makes it seem like Wolfowitz is arguing that Iraq was such a lucrative prize that it would have been stupid not to invade and grab the oil.

Now let's go to the actual transcript and see what Wolfowitz said in context:

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.

Clearly, what Wolfowitz meant was that Iraq's oil made it easy for Saddam Hussein's regime to survive economic sanctions, while North Korea might be more vulnerable to economic pressure.

This is how every other news outlet -- UPI, AP, Fox News, The Australian -- covered the story. UPDATE: alert reader D.B. points

The Guardian's version of events in such a ludicrous distortion of Wolfowitz's words that it falls into the "useful idiots" category. By apparently relying on a German translation/distortion of Wolfowitz's words -- when multiple English-language sources of the actual comments were available -- I have to wonder if the Guardian is guilty of libel in this case. [UPDATE: The Guardian is even more incompetent than I thought -- on Saturday, they ran the AP story I linked to above with the correct version of the quote!!! Thanks to alert reader D.B. and CalPundit's comments page for the link.]

By the way, almost all of the above information comes from The Belgravia Dispatch -- unfortunately his permalinks aren't working, which is why I've blogged about it here. He also has a link to Wolfowitz's actual response to a direct question about whether the war is about oil.

UPDATE: More on this from Tacitus, InstaPundit, CalPundit, and Bill Hobbs, Doc Searls , and South Knox Bubba.

posted by Dan on 06.04.03 at 03:32 PM