Wolfowitz Nod Follows Spread of Conservative Philosophy

Posted in Other | 17-Mar-05 | Author: Todd Purdum| Source: The New York Times

Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, was one of the architects of the U.S. campaign to topple Saddam Hussein.

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 Hussein.

"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 East.

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 revenues.

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 place up."

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 on.