Wolfowitz Nod Follows Spread of Conservative Philosophy
By TODD S. PURDUM
Published: March 17, 2005
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WASHINGTON, March 16 - Paul D. Wolfowitz once wrote that a major lesson of
the cold war for American foreign policy was "the importance of leadership
and what it consists of: not lecturing and posturing and demanding, but
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
regret having done so."
Mr. Wolfowitz's career has hewed to those same unshrinking precepts, and in
nominating him for the presidency of the World Bank, President Bush
simultaneously removed one of the most influential and contentious voices in
his war cabinet and rewarded one of his administration's most dogged
loyalists with an influential and contentious spot in a wholly new realm.
By sending Mr. Wolfowitz to the World Bank, and another outspoken
administration figure, John R. Bolton, to be ambassador to the United
Nations, Mr. Bush all but announced his belief that both institutions could
benefit from unconventional thinking and stern discipline. At the same time,
Mr. Wolfowitz's resignation as deputy secretary of defense, and the planned
departure this summer of Douglas J. Feith as undersecretary for defense
policy, would seem to give Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who often
tangled with Mr. Wolfowitz, expanded influence over national security policy
and minimize public feuding - something Mr. Bush is said to want badly.
But Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, who
share many of Mr. Wolfowitz's interventionist views, remain in place, and
some debates will doubtless go on.
In her first weeks on the job, Ms. Rice has taken pains to put her own stamp
on diplomacy and the American image abroad. But she and the president have
absorbed Mr. Wolfowitz's longstanding optimism about the prospects for
democracy in the Middle East, so his departure probably marks more an
evolution than a radical shift in policy.
Yet perhaps not since Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara left the Pentagon
at the height of the Vietnam war to take up the World Bank presidency and
the fight against global poverty has a top Washington policy maker
undertaken such a bold shift. The appointment was seen as provocative in
some quarters, abroad and at home. But that seemed precisely Mr. Bush's aim.
For unlike Mr. McNamara, who left the Johnson administration battered and
shaken by his own doubts over Vietnam, Mr. Wolfowitz leaves the Pentagon at
a moment of confidence. The first Iraqi elections and other positive
developments in the Middle East mean Mr. Wolfowitz and his allies can claim
a measure of success in their single-minded focus on toppling Saddam
"There is a logic to it, though it's not the McNamara logic," said Stephen
R. Sestanovich, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who
worked as a planner for Mr. Wolfowitz. "McNamara took the job to expiate,
and Wolfowitz is taking the job to vindicate. That's a big difference. For
Wolfowitz, it's meant to be going from strength to strength."
The cerebral Mr. Wolfowitz forged an unlikely bond with a president who
calls himself a gut player. Mr. Bush undertook the invasion of Iraq
principally proclaiming the danger of its unconventional weapons, but came
in time, aides said, to share the impassioned view of the man he calls
Wolfie: that a democratic beachhead in Iraq could reshape the broader Middle
Mr. Bush is famous for his loyalty to those who are loyal to him, but the
idea of nominating Mr. Wolfowitz to a cabinet post was all but out of the
question. Senate confirmation hearings would be bruising at best, re-opening
raw arguments about flaws in prewar intelligence, troop strength after the
fall of Baghdad and Mr. Wolfowitz's disproved prediction that the postwar
occupation would go smoothly and could be easily financed with Iraqi oil
So Mr. Bush has now sent Mr. Wolfowitz to shake up the world of
international economic development in some of the same ways that he and Mr.
Rumsfeld have sought to shake up American military and foreign policy. One
of Mr. Wolfowitz's associates, speaking on condition of anonymity so as not
to steal the spotlight, said he expected Mr. Wolfowitz would continue the
anticorruption efforts of the departing president, James D. Wolfensohn, and
demand fresh accountability from governments that receive aid.
"Corruption was high on Wolfensohn's agenda, and Wolfowitz has been very,
very impressed by that," the associate said. "One of his first passions was
development, and when he was ambassador to Indonesia in the Reagan years, he
was out there with the chicken farmers, and he's kind of made for this job
in some ways."
Mr. Sestanovich said that Mr. Wolfowitz would come to his new job "with a
particular argument about what makes development work, and that is that
democratization is part of modernization."
He added: "What has bothered people about the bank for the many decades it
has existed is the concern that it has just fed the preoccupations and
prejudices and bank accounts of corrupt elites in backward countries. And
the Bush administration comes at that problem with a particular focus on
governance, and even more narrowly on democracy, that is going to stir the
Critics on the left have been scathing in their denunciations of Mr.
Wolfowitz. Ten days ago, after his name circulated as a potential candidate,
John Cavanagh, director of the liberal Institute for Policy Studies here,
compiled a sarcastic list of Mr. Wolfowitz's qualifications, first among
them that he would follow in the footsteps of Mr. McNamara, "who also helped
kill tens of thousands of people in a poor country most Americans couldn't
find on a map before getting the job."
Mr. Wolfowitz may be easy to caricature but he is harder to categorize. He
has already had outsized influence on administration policy. In the first
days after the Sept. 11 attacks, he urged consideration of action against
Iraq. Mr. Bush deferred the question then, but returned to it with results
that are now well known.
Now Mr. Wolfowitz is set to embark on a surprise second act, in a theater
where the battles will doubtless be different but the policy wars will go