Wolfowitz on Point


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Look no further than the recent elections in Afghanistan for an example of "realists" doing likewise … or to Iran or Honduras for examples of why the U. Pressure on Palestine bad, pressure on Israel good. This gets to another problem I have with both "realism" and another product promoted heavily by that idea factory up there on the Charles: "smart power. If I am a realist, what does that make you? If I practice "smart" power, your alternative is necessarily dumb. Henry Kissinger, father of modern American smart power, once said — on another subject — that academic infighting is so fierce because the stakes are so low.

Here the name calling about the names they call themselves is so fierce because the differences are so minimal. Mainstream academic foreign-policy cliques in the United States essentially believe very similar things and thus are defined by their minimal differences, and ultimately by what they do in practice, which is often as not driven more by the arithmetic of momentary politics and possibilities than the calculus of policy.

The best illustration is the difference between the Bush and Obama administrations. Many of the words are the same but how they interpret, prioritize, and act may be quite different based on a host of important factors that have precious little to do with defined schools of thought. Small "r" realism consists of a recognition that there are some unpleasant truths in world politics that must be acknowledged if one is going to pursue a prudent foreign policy.

If a government amasses significant capabilities or acts aggressively, it will tend to trigger balancing coalitions. International institutions are often feckless and hypocritical. Forcible regime change is really, really hard. Power is a relative measure and a resource that should be husbanded for important matters of state.

You get the idea. Big "R" Realism is a theoretical paradigm that makes certain assumptions about what drives powerful actors in world politics, and derives interesting predictions and occasional prescriptions from those assumptions. Many of these predictions match up with small "r" realism balancing behavior, useless international institutions, etc. Many go beyond them, however.

The democratic peace is a mirage. Strong states are better at foreign policy. The difference between the two "realisms" is one of purpose. Small "r" realism is a set of guidelines for real, live policymakers, and is intended to foster prudence. Big "R" Realism is intended to be more provocative to the point of caricature — i. It is certainly possible to be both. Behind closed doors, I have heard big "R" Realists proffer small "r" realist prescriptions that might contradict the academic paradigm.

Stephen Walt is a Realist with a capital "R", so I expect him to provide a vigorous response to Wolfowitz. Of course foreign policy should be grounded in reality. Americans agree that foreign-policy goals should be achievable — that the United States should match its ends with its means. What sensible person could argue with that? That is simply pragmatism. On that issue there is a genuine debate between realists and their critics. And a desire for pragmatism should not be confused with a specific foreign-policy doctrine that minimizes the importance of change within states.

On these points, Wolfowitz is mostly right and very wrong on one important issue. No president will ever be a Realist. Henry Kissinger might have been a Realist in the academy, but in power he was a realist. Wolfowitz takes great pains to point out that George H. Bush stopped acting like a Neoconservative around And no promulgator of ideas in international relations should be brassy enough to think that their doctrine is always right.

Wolfowitz seems to think that more aggressive steps should be taken to foment internal regime change in these countries. In doing so, he cleverly contrasts it with the counterfactual of "doing nothing. One final note of warning. As much as Realists and Neocons enjoy sniping at each other now, this elides periods during which they were on the same side in the policy world. Liberal institutionalism is hardly flaw-free — but it is an equally viable perspective that needs to be considered when debating the future of American foreign policy.

Failing to Note the Difference When the U. In his essay , Wolfowitz acknowledges the classic distinctions between realism and neoconservatism — that realism prescribes dealing with states as they are in an anarchic international system while neoconservatives and their left-leaning, fellow-traveling liberal interventionists want to change the internal character of states as a primary goal of American national security policy. Wolfowitz makes a case against a gold standard version of.

Wolfowitz sets up his debate with academic realists — not policy realists who have significantly evolved in practice and perspective since the days of Kissingerian-style realism. Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski — both identified as realists in the Wolfowitz critique — differ on many micro-policy issues, as Wolfowitz points out.

He facetiously asks if that makes him a realist or renders them ideologues. Scowcroft and Brzezinski — as they noted in their recent joint book America and the World: Conversations on the Future of U. Foreign Policy , a set of edited discussions with David Ignatius — are not in complete sync when it comes to certain national security priorities and do not frame challenges identically. And they are not the kind of realists to whom Wolfowitz seeks to compare himself. Both former national security advisors are "hybrid realists" who believe that American power is constrained today and diminishing in part because of a set of very misinformed, strategic mistakes made by the George W.

By the end of his essay, Wolfowitz identifies himself as a hybrid realist as well — choosing the term "democratic realist. These hybrid realists are sensitive to the role that global public opinion — inside countries — about the United States and its policies plays internationally. These are not characteristics of the type of classic realists that Paul Wolfowitz contrasts himself with in his essay. Progressive realism attempts to maintain a logic of costs and benefits of American action in the international system. To some degree, the Nixon era was a highpoint for foreign-policy realism, with strong echoes during the George H.

Bush administration, while values militancy and democratic idealism swelled during the Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush terms. But even under these ideal-driven presidents, a commitment to reorder the internal guts of other countries coexisted and wrestled with a constant counterargument of realist scenarios and arguments.

Ronald Reagan was a values crusader against global Soviet interests in his first term and then pivoted towards a realist-informed engagement with Gorbachev in his second. George W. But whereas Reagan was able to turn his rhetorical messianism into engagement with the Soviets, George W. Bush turned his military provocation into swagger and conceit during his first term — failing to use the edge he had built to forge a new relationship with Iran which, intimidated by the quick military U.

Paul Wolfowitz punts on the Iraq War — not wanting to debate it in this essay.

The Sunshine Warrior

But by dropping the subject, he misses a fundamental reality for any presidency — the power a president inherits when he or she gets the keys to the White House is not the same from president to president. Barack Obama, in his early foreign-policy moves, has found his "inner Nixon" and made a number of key realist-like gestures not because Nixonianism was lurking just under the skin of his campaign for the White House all along — but because he had to. John McCain also would have been compelled to find his "inner Nixon" and to push back the Max Boots and William Kristols and John Boltons who want to hatch yet more wars amid those now underway.

McCain also would have found his way to a hybrid realism not unlike what we are seeing Obama deploy — because America is so substantially constrained today and doubted by much of the world as a superpower in decline that has not exhibited of late an ability to achieve the objectives it sets out for itself.

These weaknesses have also animated the pretensions of foes, problem states, and transnationally organized enemies. Thus, George W. To not recognize that the Iraq war — no matter how legitimate and necessary Wolfowitz feels that war was — deflated American power is a significant gap in his analysis. Had the Iraq invasion not occurred, had the Bush team dealt a crushing blow to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda and come home, the world and America would be in a different place.

In those circumstances if Barack Obama were still residing today in the White House, he might be less interested in the combined work and writing of Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Richard Nixon. He might have been the type of values crusader that George Bush got to be — at least for a short while. Wolfowitz carefully avoids any mention of the words "regime change," but he fails to note that many of his close intellectual and political allies are obsessed with regime change against some of the more problematic nations in the world today.

They use "democracy promotion" interchangeably with "regime change" — whereas Wolfowitz more cautiously calls not for revolutions but incremental evolutions. Wolfowitz supports the human rights work of the State Department and endorses the use of the presidential bully pulpit to express support for those working and fighting for democracy in nations run by authoritarians and despots. I think most hybrid realists also understand the importance of the global human rights agenda — but believe that agenda must be comingled and copresent with the other facets of the respective relationship.

One of the issues I wish Wolfowitz had raised but regrettably neglected is the importance of America demonstrating by example the kind of democracy we hope others aspire to. His American Enterprise Institute colleague and former vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, applauds CIA officers who choked prisoners, faked executions before detainees, and threatened to kill children as strategies of coercion.

We held not just prisoners in Guantanamo but thousands of others in Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and other facilities in a manner completely at odds with our beliefs about universal human rights. We tortured — and our government spied on a massive scale on American citizens. This kind of example is something that authoritarian governments salivate at — and true democrats abroad revile. Jailing a democratic reformer like Ayman Noor in Egypt is not a way to fight extremism.

Wolfowitz sounds as if he might be ready to find some common ground with the community of hybrid realists that, like him, want to see the world move toward a community of nations that act responsibly on the international stage and that move toward political templates that allow the growth of healthy civil institutions and promote self-determination and even democracy abroad.

His statement about Israel and its messy, unresolved state of affairs with the Arab world is not consistent with the Bill Kristol-led neoconservative position — and this is heartening. There will be differences still between these clusters of varying realist hybrids — but Wolfowitz needs to understand that the fundamental critique that folks like me make about the values militants and idealists is that they fail to think about the consequences of actions in sustaining national power.

Many foreign-policy idealists are driven by emotion and sentiment first — and rationality and calculated priority-setting last. And in my view, while I know that Wolfowitz is one of the few in the George W. Bush administration that did have a coherent, internally logical strategy that he felt would work in knocking out Saddam Hussein, his colleagues allowed raw emotion, reaction, and swagger to cloud their judgments in a matter of war and peace. Morton Abramowitz, a veteran diplomat who has worked with, and occasionally sparred with, Wolfowitz, calls him ''the pre-eminent house intellectual.

Wolfowitz says that the new approach reflects the president's own instincts, which he maintains were evident even during the campaign to anyone who cared to look beyond the awkwardness of a foreign-policy novice -- and the scorn he heaped on nation building. Wolfowitz, who was one of the so-called Vulcans, the small cadre of thinkers who advised the campaign on defense and foreign policy, clearly finds the younger Bush more open to big, bold, activist ideas than his father.

So there's that sort of Reaganism, if you want to call it that, in him, but a little more on the pragmatic side than Reagan when it comes to actual policy. When the new Bush administration was coalescing, Colin Powell called Wolfowitz and offered him the job of ambassador to the United Nations. Given this administration's standoffish relationship with the U. Wolfowitz has been similarly effusive in his praise of Powell, especially since news reports of their battles over Iraq.

And not only Iraq: the tensions between State and Defense are rooted in starkly different views of how America should deal with the world. The State Department tends to see the world as a set of problems to be handled, using the tools of professional diplomacy and striving for international consensus. This Defense Department tends to define leadership as more in the Pentagon's favorite buzzword of the moment ''forward leaning,'' including a willingness to act unilaterally if need be and to employ muscle.

Rumsfeld and Cheney, who have been friends since the Nixon administration, are visceral advocates of this more assertive view, but Wolfowitz is its theorist -- its Kissinger, as one admirer put it. Fairbanks, a Johns Hopkins political scientist who has known Wolfowitz since college. In , in what would turn out to be the last year of the first Bush administration, Wolfowitz, then under secretary for policy in Cheney's Defense Department, presided over the writing of a new ''Defense Planning Guidance,'' a broad directive to military leaders on what to prepare for.

An early draft proposed that with the demise of the Soviet Union the United States doctrine should be to assure that no new superpower arose to rival America's benign domination of the globe. The U.

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We would participate in coalitions, but they would be ''ad hoc. It was accompanied by illustrative scenarios of hypothetical wars for which the military should be prepared.

Wolfowitz´s new Pearl Harbor speech at West Point june 2001

One of them was another war against Iraq, where Saddam had already rebounded from his gulf-war defeat and was busily crushing domestic unrest. After the draft was leaked to The New York Times and was roundly denounced as bellicose and unilateralist, the language was softened.


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But a number of years later, in an essay published in The National Interest, Wolfowitz contended that most Americans had come around to favoring the kind of Pax Americana envisioned in that document. He argued that American interventions in the Balkans and elsewhere had demonstrated a growing consensus for an American leadership, which entailed ''demonstrating that your friends will be protected and taken care of, that your enemies will be punished and that those who refuse to support you will live to regret having done so.

That now seems to have become the Bush doctrine, sprung from Sept. The evidence suggests that the world consensus is somewhat shakier than Wolfowitz predicted. Allied support is confined to the loyal Tony Blair, who may pay a high price at home for it; the American public is supportive, but in no hurry; the president's father's inner circle is sounding cautions. Wolfowitz regards all of this as little different from the hand-wringing before Desert Storm or before the intervention in Bosnia. View all New York Times newsletters. In its early days, the Bush administration set in motion a review of Iraq policy, but it dragged on without much direction, so that by Sept.

At the C. Tenet, was pushing the idea of ''stateless'' terrorism, which implied less, not more, emphasis on the role of state patrons.

At State, Colin Powell seized on an idea that had been gestating in the Clinton administration -- smart sanctions'' -- that would have eased restrictions on food and medicine sales to Iraq but would have clamped down hard on smuggling of equipment for Saddam's rearmament. There was general agreement within the administration that sanctions were an abject failure, doing little to impede Saddam's military ambitions while creating a P.

It is not clear that anybody had much faith that sanctions could be fixed, but smart sanctions created the impression of doing something. Iraq was, frankly, nobody's high priority -- not Rumsfeld, who was preoccupied with missile defense; not Cheney, who was consumed by the domestic agenda; not Condoleezza Rice or Powell, who had Russia and China to think about.

When the Sept. Friends of Wolfowitz's say his initial reaction was that Iraq was probably a party to the attacks. He had already studied the work of Laurie Mylroie, an investigator who has labored to connect Iraq to earlier terrorist attacks, including the bombing of the World Trade Center, and now an ardent student of clues connecting Saddam to Sept.

The Clinton administration treated Mylroie as, in her words, ''a nut case,'' but Wolfowitz -- then spending the Clinton years as dean of the prestigious School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins -- listened to her minute briefing on the evidence trail and wrote a sympathetic blurb for her book blaming Iraq for the first trade-center attack. After Sept. James Woolsey, the former C. Woolsey contends that evidence connecting Iraq with terrorist assaults on America, while circumstantial, is ''about as clear as these things get.

He can describe the evidence in detail, the clandestine meetings between Iraqi intelligence and figures who may have been Al Qaeda operatives, and says he finds it intriguing but not conclusive. But the more general connection between Saddam and terrorists -- his hosting of the murderous and recently deceased Abu Nidal, his subsidies for Palestinian suicide bombers -- is enough, in Wolfowitz's view, to make their future collaboration against America almost a given. While Iraq might arm a missile or a bomber with one of those horrible weapons, Wolfowitz says, the more likely delivery system is via the terrorist international.

And that, too, is an underlying assumption in the administration's case for war. Throughout his career, Wolfowitz has managed to push hard against the prevailing view while avoiding the kind of confrontation that gets you marked as not a team player. But several people who know Wolfowitz say he seemed galvanized by Sept.

I think Paul tended to be Mr. Interagency Stealth in the past, and now he's Mr. Open Warfare,'' says Stephen Sestanovich, a Russia expert who once worked for Wolfowitz as a policy planner. Now, in this town, there's a near consensus about it. They've accepted the Wolfowitz goal, and now they're just haggling about how it's to be done. That was a result that could only be achieved by open warfare.

A result of his being so out front, of course, is that along with the considerably higher stakes of human life and strategic order, one thing riding on the future of Iraq is Wolfowitz's future. If, as some of his friends believe, Wolfowitz, who is 58, would like to ascend to a cabinet job -- Rumsfeld would be 72 at the start of a second Bush term; Powell has dropped hints of being a one-termer; and a shuffle could land him as national security adviser or C.

Wolfowitz grew up in a household in which Hitler and Stalin were not abstractions. His father, a mathematics professor at Cornell and an innovator in the field of statistics, was a Polish Jew who emigrated from Russian-held Warsaw in He often told his children how lucky they were to have escaped the totalitarian horrors of Europe for the benign security of America. There were many Wolfowitzes consumed in the Holocaust, and according to Wolfowitz's sister, Laura, the world's perils and America's moral responsibility were constant topics at their dinner table.

As a teenager, Wolfowitz was a lonely John F. Kennedy Democrat in his conservative Ithaca, N. He says the only time he ever marched in a demonstration was when he was 19, at Martin Luther King Jr. He remains, by his own description, a ''bleeding heart'' on social issues and a civil libertarian. The day I watched him under questioning from those eager majors at Fort Leavenworth, he argued against the use of torture in interrogating terror suspects and against the deployment of the military in domestic crises.

But his sense of America's large place in the world, like his father's, has always hewed close to that of the late Senator Henry M. Jackson, the pioneering Democratic hawk nicknamed Scoop, who believed in an American obligation to support democracies and in the willingness to use military force sometimes to accomplish that. Jackson was also Richard Perle's mentor.

Wolfowitz, who switched parties during the Reagan administration, now describes himself as ''a Scoop Jackson Republican. Wolfowitz followed his father into mathematics, taking courses from him at Cornell, shifted to chemistry and ''probably would have ended up a very unhappy biochemist'' if not for the intervention of Allan Bloom, the charismatic political philosopher, who was a resident scholar in the elite student dormitory where Wolfowitz lived.

Bloom emboldened Wolfowitz to follow his childhood fascination with world affairs, to the enormous dismay of his father, who regarded political science as roughly equivalent to astrology. Wolfowitz earned his doctorate at the University of Chicago, a seedbed of what is now called neoconservative thinking in economics, political science and strategic studies. Student deferments kept him out of the military draft during the Vietnam War, and he looks back on that war with a kind of scholarly detachment that is in striking contrast to, say, Colin Powell, who served two tours there and regards Vietnam as the paradigm of good intentions gone wrong.

Wolfowitz was sympathetic to the war and only later came around to the view that it was ''a very costly overreach. After three years teaching political science at Yale, Wolfowitz was recruited through Wohlstetter's profuse grapevine to work in Washington at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. In the waning days of the Nixon administration, the agency was one link in a network of conservative insurgents.

Their target was the diplomacy of patient coexistence with the Soviet Union. Their ringleader was Perle, operating out of Scoop Jackson's office.

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The insurgent view was that the Soviet Union should be not simply contained but challenged on all fronts. They argued that American intelligence agencies had played down the aggressive designs and military advances of the Soviet Union to conform to the White House drive for arms control. In the waning days of the Ford administration, the C. Bush sought to appease the hard-liners by commissioning ''Team B,'' a group of kibitzers with license to second-guess the intelligence reports on the Soviet Union. Wolfowitz was one of the 10 members. The report they produced was more than Bush bargained for.

It painted the Soviet Union as an expansionist boogeyman. In hindsight, much of the Team B report was worst-case hyperbole; it credited the Soviet Union with developing superweapons it never had and ignored the handicaps of a failing Soviet economy. But Team B became a political bludgeon to batter the proponents of arms control and drive up American military spending.

Wolfowitz, who contributed a thoughtful and unhysterical chapter on the importance of intermediate-range missiles to the Soviet strategy, says he never bought Team B's alarmist contention that the Soviet Union believed it could fight and win a nuclear war. But he says the report was a useful guerrilla attack on conventional thinking, including the tendency of intelligence agencies to assume that rival countries think the same way we do.

It was a similar Team B-style exercise that led to his current job. Rumsfeld was impressed by Wolfowitz's work for him on a commission set up by Congressional hawks in to prod the Clinton administration toward deploying missile defense. Rumsfeld is a missile-defense devotee; Wolfowitz somewhat less so, since he worries it would not stop low-flying cruise missiles. Wolfowitz abandoned the Yale tenure track and threw himself into the practice of national security, moving back and forth between Defense and State.

His earliest jobs were in the wonkish realm of policy analysis -- gazing at the horizon. He had a knack for luring bright, opinionated thinkers, some of whom rank high in the current administration. Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, was captivated by Wolfowitz's political science course at Yale and worked for him at the in-house think tanks in both the State and Defense Departments. Condoleezza Rice's deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, who is chairman of an influential committee of cabinet deputies that meets several times a week on national-security issues, worked for Wolfowitz in the Cheney Defense Department and was a fellow Vulcan in the campaign.

Contrary to his ideologue image, Wolfowitz is described by colleagues as open to new ideas and encouraging of dissent. Dennis Ross went to work for Wolfowitz shortly after writing a paper trashing the work of Team B. Charles Fairbanks, who also worked for Wolfowitz in the policy-planning office of the State Department, recalls him as ''sort of on the one hand, on the other hand on most issues,'' but ardent on the subject of certain regimes he regarded as outside the norms of civilized behavior, including the radical Baath party of Iraq and Muammar el-Qaddafi's Libya.

He said: 'You don't understand. I really want to destroy Qaddafi, not just constrain him. For example, as the Soviet empire was unraveling and the first President Bush was clinging to the waning figure of Mikhail Gorbachev, Wolfowitz and his boss, Cheney, believed that Boris N. Yeltsin represented a better prospect of a real end to the cold war.

And then there is Iraq. When he arrived at the Pentagon in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War and the Arab oil embargo, Wolfowitz was surprised to find that the Persian Gulf region was scarcely on their minds. I said, 'Where's the Persian Gulf office? And one of the unspoken reasons, I think, was Vietnam. But one of the spoken reasons was, the shah takes care of the Persian Gulf for us. And I said, 'Well, that's a little shortsighted. So he assembled a small group, including Dennis Ross, and they wrote a secret assessment of threats. Much of the report was about possible Soviet moves into the region, but planted in the midst of this is a bright red flag about Iraq.

Examining Iraq's outsize military and unresolved territorial claims, the report talked about possible attacks on Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, which would give Iraq control of the West's oil lifeline. The report recommended beefing up forces to provide ''a credible and visible balance to Iraq's local power. The report was not well received by the Carter administration, which was then busy courting Iraq as an offset to the new revolutionary regime in Iran.

But Wolfowitz persisted, and one result was a decision to permanently pre-position cargo ships in the gulf region loaded with tanks, artillery and ammunition. By the time of the gulf war, some of the equipment was rusty, but as Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, points out, it was the first heavy weaponry to hit the ground against Saddam's army.

When Iraq swooped into Kuwait in , Wolfowitz was Cheney's under secretary for policy. He was the strongest advocate for dispatching warships early as a sign of American resolve, and his was a persistent voice for putting American troops on the ground. After Iraq was driven out of Kuwait, Wolfowitz argued unsuccessfully that America should support the Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south in their attempts to finish off Saddam.

In the novel, Wolfowitz has a walk-on part as a former student who has made it big in Washington and periodically delights his old tutor by phoning in tidbits of inside dope. Bush will announce it tomorrow. They're afraid of a few casualties. Neither Wolfowitz nor anyone else in the administration was calling for sending American troops to Baghdad, since that far exceeded their mandate from Congress and the United Nations to liberate Kuwait. But Wolfowitz was dismayed by the decision to quickly extricate American troops and let the situation in Iraq run its course. When Clinton, who inherited the aftermath of the war, continued to stand by as Saddam suppressed the Kurds, Wolfowitz wrote a blistering op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal, calling it ''Clinton's Bay of Pigs'' -- a rebuke he could as aptly have applied to the first President Bush.

In language unusually fierce for Wolfowitz, he derided ''our passive containment policy and our inept covert operations'' and clearly implied that ousting Saddam should be American policy without quite saying it. The following year he was explicitly proposing ''the military option,'' unilateral if necessary, to rid the world of Saddam.

Until America came directly under attack last year, Wolfowitz says, he was still thinking in terms of providing arms, training and air support for indigenous rebels, not sending in American divisions. It might have worked out well. It could hardly be worse than what we've had for the last 10 years.

Two men driving Bush into war | World news | The Guardian

And if it had been a mess, we could've said, O. Wolfowitz's pentagon jobs under various presidents persuaded him that Iraq was chronic trouble. His vision of Iraq as an opportunity, though, evolved from his work in the State Department. Shultz to move him from the world of theory into the world of practice, as assistant secretary of state for East Asia.

Shultz says he hesitated -- Wolfowitz was known for his brains, not his management skills -- but agreed. Wolfowitz quickly found himself riding shotgun on another campaign against the geopolitics of Henry Kissinger, this time on how to deal with China. Shultz and Wolfowitz agreed that Kissinger put too much value on China as a counterbalance to the Soviet Union, with the result that the U.

The new team argued, in essence, that it was possible to be a hard-liner on the Soviet Union without pandering to China. Once China was downsized as a factor in the cold war, the administration felt freer to turn more attention to Japan, first, but also to the emerging Asian democracies of South Korea and Taiwan. For his next act, Wolfowitz applied to be ambassador to Indonesia, the country with the world's largest Muslim population and a place that his wife and college sweetheart, Clare, had chosen as the focus of her anthropological studies.

They are now separated, but she speaks of him with intense admiration. He threw himself into the public diplomacy, learning the language well enough to take questions at public gatherings and even entering a cooking contest sponsored by a women's magazine. He won third place for a dish he dubbed Madame Mao's Chicken. He especially prides himself on a public speech that called on the Indonesian strongman, Suharto, to introduce political openness -- a message he diplomatically saved for the end of his tour as ambassador but one that still infuriated Suharto.

Wolfowitz has talked for years about the incubation of Asian democracies and the more recent currents of freedom in Indonesia as reason to hope for something similar in the Islamic Mideast. Since Sept. Wolfowitz was still a young Pentagon wonk when President Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt braved the wrath of the Arab world to visit Jerusalem and deliver a speech of peace to the Israeli Parliament.

To an American Jew raised with a high sense of individual moral obligation, this was such an admirable piece of statesmanship that Wolfowitz bought Arabic language tapes and studied them in his car on his commute to the Pentagon so that he could appreciate the valor of Sadat's speech in the original. You hear from some of Wolfowitz's critics, always off the record, that Israel exercises a powerful gravitational pull on the man.

They may not know that as a teenager he spent his father's sabbatical semester in Israel or that his sister is married to an Israeli, but they certainly know that he is friendly with Israel's generals and diplomats and that he is something of a hero to the heavily Jewish neoconservative movement. Those who know him well say this -- leaving aside the offensive suggestion of dual loyalty -- is looking at Wolfowitz through the wrong end of the telescope.

As the Sadat story illustrates, he has generally been less excited by the security of Israel than by the promise of a more moderate Islam.

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