Joe puts the Wolfowitz quote in perspective.
So much for my sh*t-storm prediction.
I 've been mulling over this a bit and checking out the debates over at Kos and Atrios. We here in the blogosphere are fond of arguing over semantics. Having little to go on but the words of those we hope to either elevate or bring down, we get lost in them, tossing back and forth words like "floating" and "swimming" as thought the differences between the two could somehow negate the shared element of water.
Look, the primary 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.
While this isn't the damning confession we've been waiting for, there is something very unfortunate in the choice in phrasing. When one is trying to live down an image of greed and over-consumption, referring to Iraq as a country which "floats on a sea of oil" doesn't help. "Floats on a sea of oil" just sounds upbeat and hopeful as though Wolfowitz has spent hours dreaming of this mythical sea upon which he will sail his yacht and will never have to dock and refuel.
One of the first things you learn in an expository writing class is that word choice matters. Granted, Wolfowitz was on the spot and answering questions. He also admitted to be oversimplifying the case. Still, the fact that "floats on a sea of oil" was what came out of his mouth makes me wonder exactly what's going on in his head.