Former CIA Director James Woolsey addressed a full crowd at GW’s Jack Morton Auditorium Tuesday to defend U.S. military action in Iraq.
Woolsey, who led the CIA from 1993 to 1995 and is an advisor to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the Bush administration ousted Saddam Hussein from Iraq because of his brutal regime and not to procure oil. He also emphasized his belief that while Hussein was not a sponsor of the al Qaeda terrorist group, he did cooperate with them.
“Bush’s objective is to bring democracy to the extended Middle East,” Woolsey said.
Woolsey described the ongoing conflict between Islamic fundamentalist terrorists and the United States and its allies as “the long war of the 21st century.”
“I used to call this war World War IV, World War III being the Cold War,” he said. “However, I think that it will be more similar to the Cold War in that it will last some time.”
“The war did not begin on 9/11,” Woolsey added. “What happened was that we noticed.”
In discussing the war on terror, Woolsey recalled the comments of a D.C. cab driver from the Middle East who explained the hatred many people from his region have for Americans.
“‘These people don’t hate us for what we do wrong,'” said the driver, according to Woolsey. “‘They hate us for what we do right.'”
The fascist-like Baathists of Iraq and Syria, the Vilayet Faqih ruling clerics of Iran and the al Qaeda terrorists are the three “Islamist” groups that are the main enemies of America and hate the Americans’ personal freedoms, Woolsey said.
He also said Americans can expect more serious choices between liberty and security as the war on terror progresses, choices that have already come under debate after the passage of the Patriot Act.
“We think that we should have all that we want, that we are entitled to total security and total liberty,” he said.
In an anecdote about increasing airport security, he described seeing an older woman being frisked for a nail file and joked, “The history of white-haired grandmothers’ involvement in terrorism is a limited one.”
The United States will also need to consider building a resilient economic infrastructure that stands ready to deal with the threat of terrorism, Woolsey said.
“None of our networks was built with a single thought to terrorist attacks,” he said.
Bringing his speech to a close, Woolsey quoted Winston Churchill, saying, “‘Americans always do the right thing.'”
Woolsey injected his own humor to Churchill’s thought as he added, “Unfortunately, this is only after America does all the wrong things.”