Senate Democrats

Paul Wolfowitz’s Happy Talk Five Years On

Five years ago on Monday, General Eric Shinseki testified to the Senate Armed Services that it would take “several hundred thousands soldiers” to secure the peace in Iraq. Five years ago today, then-Deputy Defense Secretary – and recently appointed chairman of the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board – Paul Wolfowitz called Shinseki’s warning “wildly off the mark.” He also predicted that American troops would “be greeted as liberators.” Unfortunately, history has proven Wolfowitz wrong on all counts. Yet, despite the thousands of American troops killed and wounded, the billions of dollars spent, the happy talk of war supporters continues five years later. Senate Republicans need to join with Democrats to transition the mission, redeploy our troops and refocus on the terrorist threat facing our nation.     

Five years ago Monday, General Shineski warned several hundred thousand troops would be needed to secrure Iraq:

General Shinseki Testified Several Hundred Thousand Troops Necessary for Iraq. “I would say that what’s been mobilized to this point, something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers, are probably, you know, a figure that would be required. We’re talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that’s fairly significant with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so, it takes significant ground force presence to maintain safe and secure environment to ensure that the people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this… In short, we don’t know what the requirement will be, but we can say with reasonable confidence that the notion of hundreds of thousands of American troops is way off the mark.” [Testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, 2/25/03

Five years ago today, Paul Wolfowitz called Shineski’s warning "wildly off the mark" and "hard to imagine":

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Disputed Shinseki’s Recommendation, Calling it Wildly Off the Mark. “But some of the higher-end predictions that we have been hearing recently, such as the notion that it will take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq, are wildly off the mark. First, it’s hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam’s security forces and his army. Hard to imagine.” [Testimony to the House Budget Committee, 2/27/03]

Wolfowitz Testified Peacekeeping in Iraq Would Require Fewer Troops Than Balkans. “There are other differences that suggest that peacekeeping requirements in Iraq might be much lower than historical experience in the Balkans suggests. There’s been none of the record in Iraq of ethnic militias fighting one another that produced so much bloodshed and permanent scars in Bosnia, along with a continuing requirement for large peacekeeping forces to separate those militias. And the horrors of Iraq are very different from the horrific ethnic cleansing of Kosovars by Serbs that took place in Kosovo and left scars that continue to require peacekeeping forces today in Kosovo.” [Testimony to the House Budget Committee, 2/27/03]

Wolfowitz Said Iraq Would Perform Most of Its Own Reconstruction.  “And I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq’s reconstruction. Moreover, the Iraqis themselves can provide a good deal of whatever manpower is necessary. We are already training free Iraqi forces to perform functions of that kind, including command of Iraqis units once those units have been purged of their Baathist leadership.” [Testimony to the House Budget Committee, 2/27/03]

Wolfowitz also predicted that we would be "greeted as liberators":

Wolfowitz Predicted That We Would Be “Greeted As Liberators.” “On the other side, we can’t be sure that the Iraqi people will welcome us as liberators, although based on what Iraqi-Americans told me in Detroit a week ago, many of them — most of them with families in Iraq — I am reasonably certain that they will greet us as liberators, and that will help us to keep requirements down.” [Testimony to the House Budget Committee, 2/27/03]

Since Wolfowitz’s comments:  

Since the U.S. Invasion the U.S. Troop Levels Have Hovered Around 130,000 to 140,000. According to the Brookings Institute’s Iraq Index, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq since the 2003 invasion has remained around 130,000-140,000. That number has dropped as low as 115,000 and as reached a high of 171,000. [Brookings Institute, Iraq Index, 2/25/08]

3971 U.S. Troops Have Been Killed in Iraq. According to, 3,971 American troops have been killed in Iraq as of February 25, 2008. [, 2/26/08]

29,080 American Soldiers Wounded Through January 2008. According to,29,080 U.S. troops have been wounded in support in Iraq through January 2008. [, 2/25/08]

Current Cost of War in Iraq Is Almost $11 Billion Per Month. “In FY2007, DOD’s monthly obligations for contracts and pay averaged about $12.3 billion including about $10.3 billion for Iraq and $2.0 billion for Afghanistan.” [CRS Report, 2/22/08]

That Amounts to…

  • $332,258,064 Per Day
  • $13,844,086 Per Hour
  • $230,734 Per Minute
  • $3,845 Per Second

U.S. Has Already Spent $526 Billion on War in Iraq. “This $700 billion total covers all war-related appropriations from FY2001 in supplementals, regular appropriations, and continuing resolutions including not quite half of the FY2008 request. Of that total, CRS estimates that Iraq will receive about $526 billion (75%), OEF about $140 billion (20%), and enhanced base security about $28 billion (4%), with about $5 billion that CRS cannot allocate (1%).” [CRS Report, 2/22/08]

Yet the happy talk continues from war supporters:

Senator Graham Said We Are “Well on Our Way” to Creating a Stable, Functioning, Peaceful, Democratic Iraq that Will Align Itself with the U.S. “Winning to me is a stable, functioning government aligned with democratic principles at peace with its neighbors, that rejects Islamic extremism, will deny Al-Qaeda a safe haven and will align themselves with us in the greater war on terror. And finally, will create a system where a mother can have a say about her children. We’re not there yet, but we’re well on our way.” [Congressional Record, 2/26/08]