Wolfowitzs Idea of `Neo-Conservatism
Paul Dundes Wolfowitz, a former U.S Deputy Secretary of Defense, has been widely blamed for the war in Iraq. Being, at the time of the war, one of the major architects of President Bush’s Iraq policy and an astute advocate of the war he and a few others have been widely perceived as the main reason why the Iraq war ……
Strategic thinking of General Antony Zinni and Paul Wolfowitz .
Paul Dundes Wolfowitz, a former U.S Deputy Secretary of Defense, has been widely blamed for the war in Iraq. Being, at the time of the war, one of the major architect of President Bush’s Iraq policy and an astute advocate of the war he and a few others have been widely perceived as the main reason why the Iraq war has stretched this far. While giving a speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday, December 8, 2005 Wolfowitz was pressed by questioners on his involvement in the Iraq war. Among the questions that he was asked was how he could account for the intelligence failures on the alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the common criticism regarding the use of more troops to pacify Iraq, and how he felt about the whole war in general to which he answered in a characteristic arrogant stance that first since he was no longer working for the U.S government (he was president of the World Bank at the time) he had no obligation to account for anything, he added that he personally felt that more troops in Iraq was not necessary but lauded the war effort saying that he still thought that the war was important and added that “I think the whole world, frankly, should be enormously grateful.” After this he left the venue through the back elevator leaving behind chants of “Wolfowitz Is a Weapon of Mass Destruction.” (The Washington Post, 2005)
Wolfowitz who has been called the ‘intellectual high priest of the neoconservatives’ by his admirers drew fire from Democrats when he said that the U.S. army would be greeted as liberators in Iraq and intimated that Iraqi oil money could be used to pay for the reconstruction of Iraq. He is also on record as having trashed General Eric Shinseki’s (then the Chief of Staff of the United States Army) estimation of the need for several hundred thousand troops.
Wolfowitz’s neoconservative mien can be traced to the 1970s when he served under Democratic Senator Henry M. Jackson as an aide. Jackson is perceived to have influenced several neoconservatives and was an outspoken and very influential advocate of increased military spending and a hard line against the Soviet Union and a strong supporter of social welfare programs, labor and civil rights movements.
In contrast, General Anthony Zinni (the former retired Chief of Central Command, USMC) has been seen to be the complete opposite of Wolfowitz. He is on record as having broken ranks with the Bush administration over the war in Iraq. In his criticism of the pentagon titled ‘They’ve Screwed Up’ recorded from an interview by CBS news on May 21, 2004 he says that “There has been poor strategic and operational planning and execution on the ground” and calls the ‘course’ that led to the war “a failure”
In the book ‘Battle Ready’ which is listed as a biography and Autobiography and is co authored by General Tom Clancy and Tony Koltz, Zinni hands a serious indictment of the Pentagon and how the war in Iraq was conducted. In the book he writes: “I think there was dereliction in insufficient forces being put on the ground and fully understanding the military dimensions of the plan. I think there was dereliction in lack of planning,” and claims the president achieved a fine tactical execution in the war but missed on fine operational planning and strategic thinking. In essence he said that the Iraq war was the wrong war at the wrong time intimating a wrong strategy (Clancy, Zinni and Koltz, 2005)
When asked about the number of troops he planned for, Zinni stated a figure of about 300,000, stating that in the circumstances, they needed to “freeze the situation” so as to gain control of the security to prevent the killings that might occur and to do all that required a sizable amount of troops.
Zinni blamed the poor planning on the neo-conservatives and accuse them of campaigning for the war so as to support Israel by stabilizing the region. He says: “I blame the civilian leadership of the Pentagon directly. Because if they were given the responsibility, and if this was their war, and by everything that I understand, they promoted it and pushed it – certain elements in there certainly – even to the point of creating their own intelligence to match their needs, then they should bear the responsibility,” (Ricks, 2006)
In the months leading up to the war he reported to the congress his fears stating that he felt that he felt that it was the worst time to take the war on and questioned it necessity at the time. His views were shared by other former military leaders like the former General and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former NATO Commander Sir. Wesley Clark, former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki and former Centcom Commander Norman Schwarzkopf (Ricks, 2006).
Aspects of Wolfowitz’s “neo-conservative” understanding of the world that are drawn from realist and liberal theories of international relations.
Neo-conservatism is political philosophy that is positions that uphold traditional values and/or authorities which emerged in the United States in opposition to social liberalism, New Left counterculture and moral relativism of the 1960s. Adherents of this philosophy align themselves with most of the conservative values of free market, traditional cultural values and limited welfare. However on international affairs, they defer from other philosophies in that they prefer a proactive approach internationally in protecting national interests (Ricks, 2006).
The term neoconservative was originally used to criticize the “right” liberals and its usage was coined by Michael Harrington, a democratic socialist in 1973 in a Dissent Magazine article about welfare policy.
As opposed to neo-conservatism, realist and liberal theories hold that states are motivated primarily by the desire for military and economic power and not necessarily by ideals or ethics (Hobhouse, 1994).
Realist theories are based on the primary assumptions that: states are self regulating authorities, capable of regulating their own interactions, they are also the principal actors in the international system whose primary ‘national interest’ is its national security and survival. And as such, in the pursuit of national security they strive to amass resources. Another assumption is that the relations between states are primarily determined by their comparative level of military and economic power. This in essence states that the security of the state is the fundamental political goal.
Liberalism theories are theories of government that consider individual liberty as the primary political goal. Those who ascribe to this philosophy reject the assumptions that have dominated theories of governments such as government protection or control of freedom, economic power and so on. Liberalist theories are further subdivided into other theories such as economic liberalism, cultural liberalism and others (Strauss, 1989)
A good portion of Wolfowitz life has been consumed in the protection on the national security of USA, a fundamental theory of Realism. In the 1970s Wolfowitz served under Democratic Senator Henry M. Jackson, an influential neoconservative, who was referred to as the ‘Cold War liberal’ for his stands on increasing military spending and national security. Immediately after completing his dissertation in the summer of 1969, Wolfowitz joined the Committee to Maintain a Prudent Defense Policy, a committee charged with monitoring the progress of the Cold War which was set up by Paul Nitze and Dean Acheson.
He also made various trips with the then head of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), Fred Ikle, to Strategic Arms Limitations talks in Paris and other European cities. He was also instrumental in dissuading South Korea from plutonium reprocessing.
He was also in the committee that was formed by President Gerald Ford to counter the accusations that the C.I.A and other security agencies were under estimating the threat from the then Soviet Union by intentionally tailoring some of the intelligence so as to support Kissinger’s policies, especially détente. The committee’s mandate was to reassess the raw data of intelligence thought to be in doubt (Ricks, 2006).
Wolfowitz is also on record as having broken from the belief that the government could be democratized. He did this by denouncing Saddam Hussein at a time when America was offering Iraq support in her conflict with Iran. This was a liberalist tendency. Actually it has been pointed out that very few neo-conservatives believe strongly on democratic ideals. This tendency has been replayed in his life more than once with instance like when he disagreed with the administration over attempts to open up talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and also the sale to Saudi Arabia of Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft.
Clancy, Tom, Anthony Zinni, Tony Koltz. Battle Ready. New York: Penguin Group USA, 2005.
Milbank, Dana. “Intelligence Design and the Architecture of War.” The Washington Post. 8 December 2005: 43.
Ricks, Thomas. Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. New York: Penguin Books, Limited, 2006.
Hobhouse, Thomas. Liberalism and Other Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Strauss, Leo. The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.