According to an article by Stephen F. Hayes in the Weekly Standard, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is the principal administration proponent of the idea that Saddam Hussein must be deposed as part of the war on terrorism.

However, the administration, led by Secretary of State Colin Powell, has been backing away from President Bush’s vow of last week to wage war against states that harbor and sponsor terrorists. On September 13, Wolfowitz said at a briefing that the US should be involved in “removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism.”

When asked about these comments, Powell said, “We’re after ending terrorism. And if there are states and regimes, nations, that support terrorism, we how to persuade them that it is in their interest to stop doing that.”

In a monograph published in 1997, Wolfowitz called the first Bush administration’s failure to realize the importance of removing Saddam from power “a failure.” Powell was one of the chief architects of the decision to leave Saddam in power, just as he is now one of the chief proponents of not interfering with the Taliban regime.

Opinion: Will the new Bush administration repeat the mistakes of the old? Not toppling Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War resulted in the sanctions program that has led to incredible suffering and death in Iraq. Two weeks more of war, or perhaps less, would have removed the need for these cruel sanctions. Many experts, like Wolfowitz, also believe that Hussein was behind the World Trade Center bombing, or had a significant role to play in it. In any case, it is clear that Powell’s idea of persuading states who now sponsor terrorism to stop doing so is doomed to failure. Ten years of crippling sanctions have only strengthened Saddam Hussein’s will to fight. Why would other sponsors of terror be any different?

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