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Monday, October 27, 2003

Wolfowitz's trip was an unadulterated disaster. His announcement that he was sleeping in Tikrit was clearly a dig at Saddam and the Baathists; but then a Blackhawk was downed there while he was at the US base in Tikrit (one US soldier was wounded). And then his hotel was struck in Baghdad, with a US colonel killed and 17 other persons wounded, several of them military. Wolfowitz was visibly shaken, his voice quavering, immediately after the attack. US personnel were forced out of the hotel, perhaps permanently. The colonel was probably the highest ranking officer killed in Iraq so far.
The problem with Wolfowitz's trips to Iraq is that they are clearly political, requiring visits to touchy places such as Najaf and Tikrit, to make political points about US dominance of the country. But the Deputy Secretary of Defense should only be visiting Iraq for military reasons, and his visits should be conducted secretly so he can see military commanders and troops. If Wolfowitz goes on campaigning to be mayor of Tikrit, he is liable to get himself killed.

Even short of that, every time he goes he makes himself look clownish, and makes the US look like fools. Wolfowitz is the one who wanted 7 wars and kept talking patronizingly about the ability of the US to reshape Iraq and the Middle East, and he can't even get a good night's sleep when he is there.
-- Juan Cole.