Paul Wolfowitz

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Paul Wolfowitz

Paul Dundes Wolfowitz (born December 22, 1943 in Brooklyn, New York), is an American academic and political figure. Wolfowitz is a polarizing and controversial figure both within the United States and abroad. He is often seen as a leading proponent of the 2003 Iraq War in particular and the ambitious foreign policy regime of the George W. Bush administration in general. His views are often characterized as representing a modern American philosophy of neoconservatism. He became President of the World Bank on June 1, 2005.


Early life and education

Paul Wolfowitz grew up in the university town of Ithaca, New York, where his father, Jacob Wolfowitz, was an eminent Professor of Statistics at Cornell University. Jacob Wolfowitz was a Polish national of Jewish descent who fled to the U.S.A. with his parents in 1920 to escape persecution. Many of Wolfowitzs relatives left behind in Poland were to die in The Holocaust. In 1957 at the age of 14 Wolfowitz spent a year living in Israel while his father was teaching at Haifa University, Wolfowitzs sister would later emigrate permanently to Israel. Wolfowitz was excused military service in the Vietnam War in order to pursue his academic studies, this has lead critics to dub him as a chickenhawk.

Cornell University

Wolfowitz was expected to follow in his fathers footsteps and in 1965 he earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Cornell University. While a student at Cornell, Wolfowitz was a member of the Telluride Association, which aims to develop students' potential for leadership and public service. It was here that he first encountered Professor Allan Bloom who would become a major influence on Wolfowitz's political views with his assertion of the importance of political regimes in shaping peoples characters and Clare Selgin whom he would marry in 1968. In 1966 he got a taste of government work by spending a year at the Bureau of the Budget as a management intern and decided to change tack and pursue a career in politics.

University of Chicago

In 1972 Wolfowitz earned his doctorate in political science from the University of Chicago with a thesis on the dangers posed by nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. It was here that he came under the tutelage of Professor Albert Wohlstetter who instilled in his students the importance of maintaining US supremacy through advanced weaponry and Professor Leo Strauss who espoused the necessity of myth building to pursue the political destiny of the U.S. In the summer of 1969, through the help of Wohlstetter, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and another student of Wohlstetter's Peter Wilson, joined the Committee to Maintain A Prudent Defence Policy in Washington D.C. Set up by Paul Nitze and Dean Acheson, the lobbying group was designed to maintain support of the antiballistic missile system. After which from 1970-73 he spent three years teaching at Yale University where one of his students was Lewis Libby.

Political career

Wolfowitzs early forays into politics as an intern at the Bureau of the Budget and a member of the Committee to Maintain a Prudent Defence Policy were just the beginning of a long and distinguished political career.

The Gerald Ford administration

Under U.S. President Gerald Ford Wolfowitz left academia behind and went on to join the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) reporting to Fred Ikle where he was put to work on Team B. This was a committee of anti-communist experts put together to reassess the data gathered by the C.I.A., under then Director of Central Intelligence George H.W. Bush, with the intention of putting an end to dtente and the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II) by demonstrating that the Soviet threat was much more severe than the professional analysts realised. The conclusions of Team B have since been proven to be for the most part highly inaccurate worst-case scenarios but they did prove to be highly influential with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield and future U.S. President Ronald Reagan giving Wolfowitz two very influential allies.

The Jimmy Carter administration

From 1977 to 1980 Wolfowitz served under U.S. President Jimmy Carter as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Regional Programmes where he worked on scenarios for dealing with such eventualities as a Soviet seizure of the Persian Gulf oil fields and an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. The results of the latter scenario would lead Wolfowitz to call for the removal of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. He also assisted in laying the groundwork for the U.S. Central Command, conceived as Rapid Deployment Forces for the Persian Gulf, it would go on to play a key role in the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In 1980 Wolfowitz briefly returned to teaching, spending a year at John Hopkins University.

The Ronald Reagan administration

Wolfowitzs career really took off under U.S. President Ronald Reagan thanks to the connections he had made during his time on Team B. From 1981-82 he headed the Policy-Planning Staff at the U.S. State Department. From 1983-86 he was Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs where he pursued stronger diplomatic relations with China and watched over the Philippines transition to democracy. Wolfowitz famously broke from the official line by denouncing the Reagan administrations support for the Saddam Hussein in his conflict with Iran, but was less vocal in his opposition to another favored strongman.

U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia

From 1986-89 Wolfowitz was the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia while General Suharto was still dictator. Of Wolfowitz's time as Ambassador former foreign policy advise Dewi Fortuna Anwar told ABC News that "he was extremely able and very much admired and well-liked on a personal level, but he never intervened to push human rights or stand up to corruption."[1] (

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Wolfowitz at press conference in Jakarta

After Suharto stood down in 1998 Wolfowitz himself stated that the General was guilty "of suppressing political dissent, of weakening alternative leaders and of showing favoritism to his children's business deals, frequently at the expense of sound economic policy" while ABC News clarifies that "at the time, thousands of leftists detained after the 1965 U.S.-backed military coup that brought Suharto to power were still languishing in jail without trial." ABC News goes on to claim that "tens of thousands of people in East Timor a country Suharto's troops occupied in 1975 died during the 1980s in a series of army anti-insurgency offensives." Director of the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development Binny Buchori told ABC News Wolfowitz " went to East Timor and saw abuses going on, but then kept quiet."

Perhaps most significantly considering Wolfowitzs current position is ABC News' claim that "during his 32-year reign, Suharto, his family and his military and business cronies transformed Indonesia into one of the most graft-ridden countries in the world, plundering an estimated $30 billion", much of this money is believed to have come from Wolfowitz new employers, the World Bank. Binny Buchori says that Wolfowitz "never alluded to any concerns about the level of corruption or the need for more transparency." Officials involved in the AID program during Wolfowitz's tenure told The Washington Post that he "took a keen personal interest in development, including health care, agriculture and private sector expansion"[2] ( and that "Wolfowitz canceled food assistance to the Indonesian government out of concern that Suharto's family, which had an ownership interest in the country's only flour mill, was indirectly benefiting." According to The Washington Post Wolfowitz gave a farewell speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Jakarta in which he stated that "the cost of the high-cost economy remains too high, for the private sector to flourish, special privilege must give way to equal opportunity and equal risk for all." Wolfowitz has since stated in The Wall Street Journal "that he [Suharto] allowed this, and that he amassed such wealth himself, is all the more mysterious since he lived a relatively modest life."

ABC News quotes the head of the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara as saying "of all former U.S. ambassadors, he was considered closest to and most influential with Suharto and his family, but he never showed interest in issues regarding democratization or respect of human rights. Wolfowitz never once visited our offices. I also never heard him publicly mention corruption, not once." Dewi Fortuna Anwar suggests that "at the time, Washington didn't care too much about human rights and democracy; it was still the Cold War and they were only concerned about fighting communism," implying that Wolfowitz's silence was due to the Reagan administration policy of supporting Suharto.

While The Washington Post has "Wolfowitz's colleagues and friends, both Indonesian and American" pointing to the "U.S. envoy's quiet pursuit of political and economic reforms in Indonesia" Binny Buchori denies this stating that "he was an effective diplomat, but he gave no moral support for dissidents." However in Wolfowitz's May 1989 farewell remarks at Jakarta's American Cultural Center he stated that "if greater openness is a key to economic success, I believe there is increasingly a need for openness in the political sphere as well." As The Washington Post goes on to explain "this single, unexpected sentence stunned some members of Suharto's inner circle." Wolfowitz has stated in an article he wrote in the The Wall Street Journal following the Indonesian 1998 Revolution that Suharto blaimed this "plea for greater political openness" as "the cause of the violent incidents that marked Indonesia's largely stage-managed elections in 1997."[3] (

In 1997 Wolfowitz was still publicly praising Suharto's "strong and remarkable leadership" in testimony on Indonesia before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. In the article for The Wall Street Journal, Wolfowitz wrote that "The tragedy for Mr. Suharto and his country is that he would have been widely admired by his countrymen if he had stepped down 10 years ago." Wolfowitz goes on to explain, as his reasoning for his support, that "achieving peace among a population so diverse requires a strong leader and a unified military." In the aftermath of the 2002 Bali bombing he stated that "the reason the terrorists are successful in Indonesia is because the Suharto regime fell and the methods that were used to suppress them are gone."

The George H.W. Bush administration

From 1989-93 under U.S. President George H.W. Bush Wolfowitz served as U.S. Under-Secretary for Defense Policy reporting to the then U.S. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. Wolfowitz was charged with realigning U.S. military strategy in the post-cold war environment. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War Wolfowitzs team were charged with the co-ordination and review of military strategy as well as the raising of $50 billion in allied financial support for the operation. Wolfowitz was reportedly distraught by the administrations decision to stop short of removing Saddam Hussein and the betrayal of the Kurdish and Shiite revolutionaries encouraged to rise up against their dictator that this policy entailed. In the aftermath of the war Wolfowitz wrote the Defense Planning Guidance to "set the nations direction for the next century" that many saw as a "blueprint for U.S. hegemony". At the time the official administration line was one of containment and the contents of Wolfowitzs highly controversial plan that included calls for preemption and unilateralism proved unpalatable to the more moderate members of the administration including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell and the President himself, so Cheney was charged with producing the watered-down version that was finally released in 1992.

The Bill Clinton administration

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Wolfowitz at his SAIS office in 1991

Wolfowitz fell out of favour under U.S. President Bill Clinton and from 1993-2001 returned to academia where he was dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University and was instrumental in adding more than $75 million to the endowment, adding an international finance concentration as part of the curriculum and combining the various Asian studies programs into one department. He also put his years of defense experience to good use as a paid consultant for aerospace and defense conglomerate Northrop Grumman.

Wolfowitz however could not remain completely out of politics for long and in 1997 he became one of the charter members, alongside Donald Rumsfield, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Richard Perle and others, of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). William Kristol and Robert Kagan founded this neo-conservative think-tank with the stated aim of "American global leadership" through military strength. In 1998 Wolfowitz was one of the signatories of the PNAC open letter to President Bill Clinton ( that was highly critical of his continued policy of containing Iraq. The PNAC advocated preemptive U.S. military intervention against Iraq and other "potential aggressor states" to "protect our vital interests in the Gulf". In 2000 the PNAC produced its magnum opus the 90-page report on Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century ( that advocated the redeployment of U.S. troops in permanent bases in strategic locations throughout the world where they can be ready to act to protect U.S. interests abroad. The Clinton administration however remained unmoved and pressed on with containment.

In the run-up to the controversial 2000 U.S. Presidential Election, Wolfowitz joined Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell and Richard Perle amongst others on an advisory group known as The Vulcans put together to advise Republican Party Presidential candidate George W. Bush on foreign policy.

The George W. Bush administration

Wolfowitz returned to government from 2001-05 under U.S. President George W. Bush serving as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense reporting to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Almost immediately upon confirmation he leapt into action in May 2001 during the height of Sino-American tensions that surrounded the U.S.-China Spy Plane Incident. Wolfowitz diffused a very tricky situation when he ordered the recall and destruction of 600,000 Chinese-made berets that had been issued to troops stating "U.S. troops shall not wear berets made in China"[4] ( Apart from this peak of hubris Wolfowitz was for the most part sidelined in the early months of the administration as Bush seemed to follow the containment policies of his predecessors (although former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill denies this was the policy in Ron Suskind's book The Price of Loyalty).

Following the terrorist attacks of 9-11 debate began within the White House as to the degrees of action to take against Al Qaeda. Certain members of President Bush's cabinet, led by Wolfowitz, readvocated preemptive strikes against Iraq alongside those against terror cells in Afghanistan. Out of this came the creation of what would later be dubbed the Bush Doctrine, centering on preemption and a broad-based anti-terrorism campaign. During Wolfowitz's pre-war testimony before Congress, he dismissed General Eric K. Shinseki's estimates of the size of the post war occupation force as incorrect and estimated that fewer than 100,000 troops would be necessary in the war, however the US alone was estimated to have over 140,000 troops in Iraq in October 2003. On October 26, 2003, he was in Baghdad, Iraq, for a brief official tour. While he was staying at the Al-Rashid Hotel, it was hit by several rockets fired at the building. Army Lt. Col. Charles H. Buehring [5] ( was killed and 17 others wounded. There was nothing to indicate that Wolfowitz was the target of the attack. Wolfowitz and his DOD staffers escaped unharmed and Wolfowitz returned to the United States on October 28.

In January 2005 Wolfowitz was nominated to be President of the World Bank.

Personal life

Wolfowitz married Clare Selgin Wolfowitz in 1968. They had three children and reportedly divorced in 2002 (although his wife has refused to confirm this). She currently works for IRIS at the University of Maryland, College Park in the Governance Institutions Group, primarily on its projects in Indonesia and with the Programs and Policy Coordination office of USAID.

Political views

Wolfowitz is considered by many political analysts a neoconservative and possibly a Straussian known for his passionate pro-Israel advocacy and staunch support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Isreali-Palestinian conflict

Despite his support for Israel Wolfowitz is one of the few neoconservatives in the Bush administration to have endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state. Wolfowitz has acknowledged the sufferings of the Palestinian people in their conflict with Israel, and in 2002 was heckled for expressing such views at a pro-Israel rally.


Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution Wolfowitz has been a notable backer of Iranian dissidents, leading Azar Nafisi to dedicate her bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran to him.


Wolfowitz has been a long-term advocate of a policy to strike first to eliminate threats but this remained contained until the terrorist attacks of 9/11 revived hawkish advocacy for defense through pre-emptive action.

Opinions on Wolfowitz

Wolfowitz's recent appointment for the World Bank presidency has been surrounded with both approvals and disapprovals by various politicians, organizations and foreign countries.

Japan, a U.S. ally in the Iraq war, backed his appointment. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda praised Wolfowitz, saying: "He's a great person and he is well-versed in issues regarding development in Asia."

The nomination has brought some criticism from leaders worldwide*[6] ( Nobel Prize winner and former chief economist for the world bank Joseph Stiglitz has said

"The World Bank will once again become a hate figure. This could bring street protests and violence across the developing world."*[7] (

In a speech at the U.N. Economic and Social Council Economist Jeffrey Sachs was quite vocal in his opposition to Wolfowitz.

"It's time for other candidates to come forward that have experience in development. This is a position on which hundreds of millions of people depend for their lives," he said. "Let's have a proper leadership of professionalism."*[8] (

The Wall Street Journal commented:

"Mr. Wolfowitz is willing to speak the truth to power. He saw earlier than most, and spoke publicly about, the need for dictators to plan democratic transitions. It is the world's dictators who are the chief causes of world poverty. If anyone can stand up to the Robert Mugabes of the world, it must be the man who stood up to Saddam Hussein."*

[9] (

External links


Official biographies

Unofficial biographies

Other reports

Directory categories

  • LookSmart - Paul Wolfowitz ( directory category
  • Yahoo - Paul Wolfowitz ( directory category

See also

Further reading

  • Seymour Hersh. 2004. Chain of Command: From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib. New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 0060195916.
  • James Mann. 2004. Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet New York: Viking. ISBN 0670032999.
  • Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke. 2004. America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521838347.
  • Stephen F. Hayes and D.A.H. Hirshey. 2005. The Brain: Paul Wolfowitz and the Making of the Bush Doctrine, HarperCollins. ISBN 0060723467.
  • Bob Woodward. 2004. Plan of Attack. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 074325547X.

Preceded by:
John P. White (acting)
United States Deputy Secretary of Defense
Succeeded by:
Gordon R. England (acting)
Preceded by:
James Wolfensohn
President of the World Bank
Succeeded by:

Template:End boxbg:Пол Улфовиц ca:Paul Wolfowitz da:Paul Wolfowitz de:Paul Wolfowitz es:Paul Wolfowitz fr:Paul Wolfowitz nl:Paul Wolfowitz no:Paul Wolfowitz id:Paul Wolfowitz ja:ポール・ウォルフォウィッツ pl:Paul Wolfowitz zh:保罗沃尔福威茨


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