Paul Wolfowitz

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Paul Dundes Wolfowitz (born 1943), is best known to be one of the "architects" of the war against Iraq. He is one of the original neocons and signatory to the Project for the New American Century, PNAC. He served briefly as president of the World Bank in 2006, but resigned in disgrace in May 2007 due to ethics violations. In July 2007 he joined the American Enterprise Institute to work on "entrepreneurship and development issues, Africa, and public-private partnerships".[1]

Biographical profile

Wolfowitz, considered to be one of the most prominent and "hawkish" of the neo-conservatives, is the principal author of the "Wolfowitz doctrine", also known as the Bush doctrine – the idea that the US should use pre-emptive force in order to maintain its national security and interests on the global stage. His expertise is with the Middle East and Asia.

Wolfowitz has served under several presidents. He served as a military analyst under Ronald Reagan, first as Director of Policy Planning for the Department of State and later as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs 1982-1986. In 1986, he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia. Under President George Herbert Walker Bush, Wolfowitz served as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy."

From 1977 to 1980, he was Director of Policy Planning for the Jimmy Carter State Department, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. From 1973-1977, Wolfowitz held a variety of positions in the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency including Special Assistant to the Director for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.

As a long-time member of the Project for the New American Century think tank, he signed the January 26, 1998 PNAC letter sent to President Bill Clinton, demanding regime change in Iraq.[2]

Early life

Paul Wolfowitz was born in 1943 in New York, where his father Jacob Wolfowitz was teaching at Columbia When he was fourteen, the family moved to Israel where his father was a visiting professor at the Technion.[3]


Wolfowitz won a scholarship to Cornell, where he majored in mathematics and chemistry. While there, he joined the Telluride Association.[3]

Wolfowitz became one of a circle at Telluride House centred on Professor Allan Bloom, with other members including Francis Fukuyama, Alan Keyes, Abram Shulsky, Stephen Sestanovich and Charles Fairbanks.[3]

Wolfwowitz subsequently went to graduate school, where he took two of Leo Strauss's courses but became closer to Albert Wohlstetter.[3]

Wolfowitz's doctoral dissertation argued against the development of nuclear weapons by Israel.[3]

Defence Lobbying

In the summer of 1969, Wolfowitz and Richard Perle were recruited by Wohlstetter to work for the [[Committee for a Prudent Defence Policy in Washington.[3]

Wolfowitz's presidency of the World Bank

Wolfowitz was nominated to be president of the World Bank by President George W. Bush. On June 1 2005 he succeeded James David Wolfensohn, whose second five-year term as president of the World Bank came to an end at the end of May 2005.[4] Although Wolfensohn privately let it be known that he desired to remain for another five years, the Bush administration had decided that it wanted "a new man to head the agency".[5] It was originally believed that Robert B. Zoellick, the US trade negotiator, would be nominated. As it turned out, Zoellick was to succeed Wolfowitz in the post in 2007.

A report for National Public Radio (NPR) in the US said it was anticipated that Bush's nomination of Wolfowitz,

a key proponent of the 'neoconservative' political movement calling for a more aggressive U.S. foreign policy, is likely to be met with strong opposition by European nations opposed to the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.[6]

Wolfowitz had no prior experience in development or the environment, neither in banking.

Paul Wolfowitz, was a controversial choice made by president Bush. Prior to his presidency, Wolfowitz was the U.S deputy defence secretary and one of the architects of the Iraq war. There were criticisms at the time of his appointment, that it was just a way for the Bush Administration to have more control over the bank. George Monbiot points out that Wolfowitz appointment will only seek to make sure that the bank runs the way the U.S wants it too.

"Under Wolfowitz, my fellow progressives lament, the World Bank will work for America. If only someone else were chosen it would work for the world’s poor." [7]

Upon becoming president Wolfowitz outlined his main aim, to reduce poverty in the third world, especially in Africa, focusing on the key subjects of International trade, subsides, and private sector investment. Wolfowitz also vowed to deal with corruption which was happening in some of the countries where aid was given. He argued that development could not be effective if corruption was taking place within host governments and went as far as to suspend aid to these governments. One example of this is Chad, where the aid was suspended due to the government using it for military purposes. Critics voiced there opinions that the poor people in these countries should not be punished and that corrupt governments still have the ability to promote development. Wolfowitz was also criticized due to the fact that he was less vigilant in countries which were backed by the U.S such as Afghanistan.

Wolfowitz resigned from his post in 2007 due to a row over whether or not he broke the Banks rules by awarding a pay rise to his girlfriend, who also worked at the bank but was transferred to the U.S state department once Wolfowitz began his tenure. After going in front of the Bank's board it was ruled that he had broken the banks code of conduct and violated the terms of his contract. The Bank released this statement on the matter:

"He [Mr Wolfowitz] assured us that he acted ethically and in good faith in what he believed were the best interests of the institution, and we accept that...

"At the same time, it is clear from this material that a number of mistakes were made by a number of individuals in handling the matter under consideration, and that the bank's systems did not prove robust to the strain under which they were placed." [8]

Throughout the controversy Wolfowitz had the full support of President bush who is said to have reluctantly accepted his decision to resign.


With regard to the Iraq war, Wolfowitz is paraphrased in an article syndicated in the Orange County Register and The Columbian (Vancouver) of 28 July 2003 as saying that intelligence about terrorism is inherently "murky", and the U.S. must be prepared to act on less-than-perfect information in a world where terror is the main threat.[9]


In a profile of Paul Wolfowitz, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius writes:

Commentators in Europe and the Arab world write darkly about America's designs on Iraqi oil, or a conspiracy to enrich Vice President Cheney's old friends at Halliburton, or a plot to help Israel. It would be nice, in a weird way, if the Iraq war were anchored to such worldly interests. But it isn't.
The reality is that this may be the most idealistic war fought in modern times -- a war whose only coherent rationale, for all the misleading hype about weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda terrorists, is that it toppled a tyrant and created the possibility of a democratic future. It was a war of choice, not necessity, and one driven by ideas, not merely interests. In that sense, the paradigmatic figure of the war is Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense and the Bush administration's idealist in chief.

As example of Wolfowitz's idealism Ignatius reports him telling residents of Hilla: 'There are people in the world who say that Arabs can't build democracy.I think that's nonsense. You have a chance to prove them wrong. So please do it.'. So moved was Ignatius that he adds: 'I asked Wolfowitz if he ever worried that he was too idealistic -- that his passion for the noble goals of the Iraq war might overwhelm the prudence and pragmatism that normally guide war planners.' Igantius ends with another flourish:

That passion undercuts the widespread notion that Wolfowitz is simply a neoconservative tool of Israel. He is instead a kind of amateur Orientalist: He reads about the Arab world, bleeds for its oppression and dreams of liberating it.[10]

This appears to be the common view of Wolfowitz in the media among supporters and also some critics. But this is not a view supported by Wolfowitz's history in the world. As George Packer, one of his admirers, admits: 'Democracy and human rights....didn't play a central role in his early career in government.'[11]


Indeed, as ambassador to Indonesia he was a vocal supporter of the Suharto regime. He even co-chaired the Board of Trustees of US-Indonesia Society, an pressure group funded by 'major U.S. oil, mining, financial services and pharmaceutical companies with strong economic or political connections to Indonesia' which carried out propaganda in support of the Suharto regime. The board also included Sumitro Djojohadkkusumo, whose son headed Indonesia's notorious Kopassus special forces unit. In a 10 December 1996, he appeared with the Indonesian ambassador to Washington to declare the country's human rights abuses, particulary in East Timor, over.[12]


Likewise, his alleged support for democratic forces in the Philippines is a myth. In an admiring portrait, George Packer writes:

In the mid-1980s, when Ferdinand Marcos was clingig to power in Manila after stealing an election, and the Reagan administration was debating what to do, the New York Times reporter Leslie Gelb interviewed all the key officials, including Wolfowitz, then the assistant secretary of state for East Asia. Gelb wrote that there was an emerging consensus in the administration that Marcos had to go. As soon as the article appeared, Wolfowitz called to complain that he had said no such thing. While they were still talking, Gelbe checked his notes and realized that Wolfowitz was right: He had walked up to the line but carefully avoided crossing it. But a few years later, by which time the wisdom of forcing Marcos out had become a given, Gelb came across an article in The Washington Post that indentified Wolfowitz as the force behind Marcos's ouster. By then Wolfowitz was happy to take credit.[13]


The Evolution of the Wolfowitz Doctrine

  • "Jewish and from a family of teachers, Wolfowitz is for his part a brilliant product of East Coast universities. He has studied with two of the most eminent professors of the 1960s: Allan Bloom, the disciple of the German-Jewish philosopher Leo Strauss, and Albert Wohlstetter, professor of mathematics and a specialist in military strategy. These two names would end up counting. The neoconservatives have placed themselves under the tutelary shadow of the strategist and the philosopher." [12]
  • Wolfowitz, following in the footsteps of his famous father, attained his first diploma in mathematics and physics, earning a B.A. in 1965 from Cornell University, where his father was then professor. Wolfowitz then changed universities as well as academic subject to the political sciences. In 1972, he attained his doctoral degree from the University of Chicago. "There he is cared for by professor Albert Wohlstetter, [who, later during] the Gulf War [had] still another large role will play."
Also attending at the University of Chicago at the same time was Attorney General-to-be John Ashcroft.
Wolfowitz taught from 1970-1973 at the Yale University (the homeland of Skull & Bones) and in 1981 he taught at John Hopkins University. In 1993, Wolfowitz became the George F. Kennan Professor for National Security Strategy at the National War College.
Source: translated online from the original German by Yahoo!; editted for clarity.
  • Albert Wohlstetter worked for the RAND Corporation until 1962 and settled down at the University of Chicago in 1964, where he met Paul Wolfowitz, who was "drawn to Wohlstetter's intellect and temperament and began working under his supervision."
Wolfowitz's thought process "picked up where Wohlstetter left off. Where Wohlstetter had warned of preparing for a rearmed Russia and a nuclear China, Wolfowitz considered the third dimension along which nuclear strategy would evolve: proliferation.
In his dissertation on nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, he argued that the United States "needed to look beyond simply defending traditional allies against the communist bloc" and that areas "with natural resources vital to the U.S. economy ought to be as much a part of a strategic defense umbrella." Wolfowitz wrote that "anybody with the capability to threaten those areas must be regarded with concern. In true Wohlstetter fashion, Wolfowitz argued that even the hint of nuclear weapons in the Middle East would be a matter of the gravest concern."
"In 1969, in the thick of the ABM debate, Wohlstetter summoned Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, another protégé, to help him gather the information he needed to wage the Safeguard ABM system campaign. Housed in the offices of Sen. Henry Scoop Jackson, a Washington State Democrat and military hawk, Wolfowitz and Perle conducted interviews and drafted a report.
"Wohlstetter's two young acolytes were quickly immersed in the world of Washington politics. Wolfowitz entered government service as a junior officer in the Middle East section of the Defense Department and quickly rose through the ranks to head the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under Presidents Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter." [13]
  • During the Clinton administration, Wolfowitz formulated a new foreign policy with regard to Iraq and other "potential aggressor states", dismissing "containment" in favor of "preemption"; strike first to eliminate threats. Clinton, along with Bush Senior, Colin L. Powell, and other former Bush administration officials, dismissed calls for "preemption" in favor of continued "containment." This was the policy of George Walker Bush as well for his first several months in office. Many saw Wolfowitz'z plan as a "blueprint for US hegemony" and his "preemption" policy remained contained until the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 revived hawkish advocacy for defending by attacking." [14][15].

Bush administration: Act II

  • Following the 2004 presidential election, political pundits speculated on Wolfowitz's role during Bush's second term. On November 4, 2004, CBS News' David Paul Kuhn wrote: [16]
John R. Bolton’s "boss", Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, was considered as a "possible replacement" for Condoleezza Rice. "An architect of the war in Iraq, Wolfowitz has been under fire by Democrats for the lack of postwar planning. The national security adviser does not need to be confirmed by the Senate, so Democratic disdain for Wolfowitz would not be a factor. ...
Bolton, Wolfowitz, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, "have come to define a Bush doctrine of bold diplomacy. And if, as is likely, neoconservatives return to favor at the White House, they could stand to gain."

"Political Consultant"

  • "The PNAC and the Defense Industry, Or a Slight Case of Overbombing"--as of July 24, 2003.
"Wolfowitz's largest source of income was as co-chairman, with former Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), of Hughes Electronics Nunn-Wolfowitz Task Force, for which he was paid $300,000. The task force analyzed Hughes' compliance with U.S. export restrictions on high technology goods. He was also a dean and professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, which earned him an additional $247,000. He earned another $55,000 in speaking fees from several groups, including JP Morgan, the Heritage Foundation, Hudson Institute, and Syracuse University. Wolfowitz also managed to stay busy doing consulting work for BP Amoco, Northrop Grumman and The Limited Service Corporation, as well as being on the board of directors for Hasbro and financial services company Dreyfus, as well as several non-profit groups; his consulting and board fees totaled nearly $130,000. Wolfowitz's largest single asset is Hasbro deferred compensation worth as much as $250,000." [17]
"According to the Center for Political Integrity, nine out of 30 past and present members of the influential Defense Policy Board, had ties to defense firms with $76 billion in DOD contracts.
"The list is a veritable 'who's who' in the Bush Administration: ...
"Representing Northup Grumman is White House Chief of Staff, I. Lewis Libby, (consultant); Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith (legal client); Deputy Sec. Of Defense Paul Wolfowitz (consultant); Air Force Secretary James G. Roche (former president), and Air Force Assistant Secretary Nelson Gibbs (comptroller)."

Former mathematician?

Maureen Dowd wrote September 28, 2003, in the New York Times Op-Ed "Drunk on Rummy" observations on the then-to-be-published book written by Midge Decter about Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld:

As riveting as Midge finds Rummy, it is her description of Paul Wolfowitz as a "former mathematician" that riveted me. The whole attitude of Rummy and Wolfie at Congressional hearings was "Barbie hates math." They couldn't come up with a concrete number for anything.
Skeptical, I checked and discovered that Wolfie's father was a mathematician from Cornell (Jacob Wolfowitz) who specialized in probability and statistics; he hoped his son would follow in his footsteps, considering political science on a par with astrology.
Instead, his son chose the field of obscuring probability and statistics, refusing to cooperate with lawmakers to add up how much the war was going to cost in dollars and troops and years, or to multiply the probable exponential problems of remaking the Middle East, or even to subtract the billions that were never coming from snubbed allies.
I guess Wolfie never calculated the division in America his omissions would cause when we finally got a load of the bill -- including $100 million to hide the families of 100 Iraqis in the witness protection program, $19 million for post office Wi-Fi, $50 million for traffic cops and $9 million for ZIP codes. At these prices, the Baghdad ZIP better be 90210."

Resources and articles

Related articles

Nominations, Appointments & Documents

Wolfowitz's Speeches & Commentaries

Wolfowitz's News Photos

Wolfowitz/Bush Doctrine

External articles







  1. American Enterprise Institute, "Paul Wolfowitz Joins AEI", Media Release, July 2, 2007.
  2. "Letter from PNAC members to Bill Clinton", 26 January 1998, accessed 13 May 2009
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 James Mann, The Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet, New York: Penguin Books, 2004, p.23. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Mann23" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Mann23" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Mann23" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Mann23" defined multiple times with different content
  4. "IMF chief says Wolfowitz has impressive record", Reuters, 16 March 2005, version placed in web archive 18 March 2005, accessed 13 May 2009
  5. Rob Watson, "Wolfensohn to quit the World Bank", BBC News online, 4 January 2005, accessed 13 May 2009
  6. Ron Elving and Alex Chadwick, Bush Nominates Wolfowitz for Top World Bank Spot, NPR, 16 March 2005, accessed 13 May 2009
  7. I'm with Wolfowitz Accessed on 9th march 2008
  8. BBC News Website In quotes: Reactions to Wolfowitz Departure, Accessed on 10th March 2008
  9. William C. Mann, "Pentagon official defends Iraq war", The Columbian, 28 July 2003, archived by Highbeam Research (sub req'd for full article), accessed 13 May 2009
  10. David Ignatius, A War of Choice, and One Who Chose It, Washington Post, 2 November 2003
  11. Packer (2005): 27
  12. Jason Vest, Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolfowitz, Village Voice, 8 March 2005
  13. George Packer, The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005), pp.26-27