Depending on your particular ideological persuasion, Paul Wolfowitz might be:
- a nucking futs lunatic bent on destroying whatever fragile peace previously existed in the world, or
- a crusader for a responsible American foreign policy in an era where nobody is safe from a variety of threats
Either way, the guy's got game
, so you'd better keep an eye on him.
Wolfowitz was born on December 22, 1943. He studied mathematics at Cornell (and you KNOW what those people are like), and interned in the Budget Office for a year. Apparently, money didn't tickle his fancy, so he continued his education, eventually receiving his Ph.D. in poli-sci from the Friedman-lovers at the University of Chicago. Leo Strauss was one of Wolfowitz's senpais at Chicago, and undoubtedly had a role in shaping the young turk's view of the world as a nasty, Hobbesian place where the elites had to keep the masses' eyes turned elsewhere so as not to incite them to overthrow the government and drive the state into the ground. But that's another node.
Da Bomb, Fo' Sho'
When Wolfowitz graduated from Chicago in 1973, the world was an admittedly fscked up place, and he was thrust right into the middle of the Cold War by joining the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. During his four-year tour there, he was a negotiator in the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty talks with the Monster Raving Presidium of the Soviet Motherland.
In 1977, after wrapping up an illustrious career of removing weapons, Wolfowitz was promoted to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Regional Programs, where he finally got to play with weapons. And play he did! The Wolfowitz team did a bunch of things during this period that would have massive impacts on American defense policy into the twenty-first century: most notably, they started the Maritime Pre-positioning Ships program and created the precursor to the United States Central Command, both of which would form a major part of the Gulf War effort a decade and a half later.
Wolfie the Diplomat
Wolfowitz left the Pentagon in 1980, accepting a faculty position at Johns Hopkins University for a year. He didn't stay in academia for long, though: in 1981, he was dragged into the Department of State as a policy planner. A year later, he was promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Then, in 1985, Ronald Reagan appointed Wolfowitz ambassador to Indonesia, a position he held until the end of the Reagan administration, when Dick Cheney brought him back into the defense establishment.
Back in Battle
In 1989, Wolfowitz became Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, coordinating a staff of 700 defense planners. The Wolfpack was responsible for most of the realigning of the military following the end of the Cold War, and it was Wolfowitz's planning, in large part, that allowed the U.S.-led coalition to deliver a major league knuckle sandwich to Saddam Hussein the first time around. His team was especially lauded for the $50 billion of international support they procured on the eve of the conflict, much of it from the only constitutionally pacifist country in the world, Japan.
Strategory in the Background
When Bill Clinton became President in 1993, he summarily booted most of the conservative establishment out of office. Wolfowitz landed at the doorstep of the National War College, where he became George F. Kennan Professor of National Security Strategy and also began editing for Foreign Affairs and National Interest magazines, spreading his ideas about preventive intervention and aggressor states across the academic and policy community.
In 1994, Wolfie became Dean of SAIS, the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins. Under his leadership, SAIS's endowment more than doubled, and its focus shifted from Cold War-era "nuke 'em till they glow, then shoot 'em in the dark!" studies to more contemporary multipolar globalist studies. This didn't signal a major philosophical change for the Wolfman, however, as he was about to prove in the biggest conflict of the post-Cold War era.
Wolfowitz With A Capital W
After George W. Bush became president in 2001, he tapped Wolfowitz to be Deputy Secretary of Defense, the number two man to Donald Rumsfeld. It is fairly clear to most observers that this was not Bush's idea: it was probably either Rumsfeld's or Cheney's. At any rate, Wolfowitz's message didn't resonate to the Bush administration at first, since they were more focused on pressing matters such as how to placate the half of the country that was pissed off at Bush.
Then came The Day That Needs No Explanation. As Bush and his advisors conferred over marathon sessions at undisclosed locations, Wolfowitz's voice suddenly became more pertinent. His message—"Get your ass over to Afghanistan and kill the bastards NOW"—suddenly had resonance.
The easiest and most accurate way to conceptualize Wolfowitz in the post-9/11 era is to think of him and Colin Powell as the angel and devil sitting on either side of Bush's head. (Which is which is entirely up to you, of course.) Their dialogue goes something like this:
White House Aide: Mr. President, Mr. Rumsfeld is here to see you.
Bush: Thanks. Send 'im in.
Powell: (POOF!) Don't listen to him! Containment is what you want! Intervention is bad! We need the United Nations!
Wolfowitz: (POOF!) INTERVENTION! Intervention makes you strong! Strength crushes enemies! INTERVENTION! INTERVENTION!
Bush: Uh... Uh... I give the order to attack.
Rumsfeld: (bows) With pleasure, sir.
Powell: Son of a BITCH!
Of course, Wolfowitz had some of his own medicine shot right back at him in October of 2003
, when his hotel in Baghdad
was shelled by some anonymous coward
. He was unhurt, but eighteen others were killed.
Would you like to know MORE?
PBS aired an absolutely incredible episode of Frontline that dealt with how Wolfowitz influenced the modern Bush Doctrine. You can watch the episode in its entirety at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/iraq/view/
Wolfie and Rummy's official web site is at: http://www.defense.gov/osd/topleaders.html