Wolfowitz and His Successfully Evil Cabal
Richard H. Curtiss, Special to Arab News
Arab News Opinion 23 February 2003
Whatever comes next in the battle against Saddam Hussein,
Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has
achieved a life-long aim. He has diverted the search for
a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem onto
the back burner while turning up the heat on the problem
of Saddam Hussein.
Wolfowitz has a long history working for the government.
After completing his university graduate work, he was a
management intern in the Bureau of the Budget (1966-67),
where he began his steady ascent up the bureaucratic
As assistant secretary of defense in the current
administration, however, Wolfowitz has come into his own.
Some say he considers himself the administration's
resident intellectual. Whether that is true or not,
Secretary of State Powell is his chief rival for
influence in the White House.
At least once in the Bush administration Powell has come
down hard against Wolfowitz. But Wolfowitz indefatigably
bounces right back from such upsets, all the while
pursuing his own private agenda. That agenda is to
deflect attention from the problem of Israel by finding
Washington new enemies anywhere else in the world.
This long-term goal of his has been Wolfowitz' idée fixe
for many years. Apparently with the president's blessing,
he has elaborated this goal into calling for the defeat
of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and the creation of a
military occupation government. Wolfowitz maintains that,
since Saddam is so hated by his people, once serious
military action begins he will fall rapidly. It will not
be terribly long, Wolfowitz argues, before a military
government can be melded into a democratic country,
perhaps the first in the Arab world. The civilian Defense
Department official tends to minimize problems that don't
fit into his world views such as the fact that Iraq's
Kurds may have different plans of their own. The
country's Shiites also may have a different game plan.
Waving aside these practical considerations, Wolfowitz
insists that these matters can easily be dealt with
There are others, however, who believe that Wolfowitz has
a separate agenda of his own, and who believe, in fact,
that Wolfowitz welcomes each new international problem.
He may want the United States to remain bogged down in
various crises and thus give the Israelis more time to
consolidate their own conquest over the Palestinians.
Indeed, some Wolfowitz-watchers warn that he is, in the
words of one conservative, "the most dangerous man in the
current administration." This is partly because he both
advocates hard-line positions and has the ability to
One observer has described Wolfowitz and his cohorts as
"democratic imperialists." In addition, Wolfowitz and
other hard-line commentators are talking about US
military action to bring about changes in both Syria and
Iran after subduing Iraq.
Said Hugo Young of The Guardian of Dec. 3, 2002: "In
Washington, as well as in Europe, Paul Wolfowitz is
regarded as the most awesome of the hawks in his appetite
for war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. A Republican senator
saw him as a weirdo' whose views were so dogmatic as to
put him outside the realms of normal debate."
In a press conference after Sept. 11, 2001, Wolfowitz
declared that American policy "is ending states that
sponsor terrorism." This earned a public remonstrance
from Colin Powell, who said that Wolfowitz "can speak for
himself," but the US goal is only to end "terrorism."
Wolfowitz's enthusiasm for nailing Saddam was thus
quashed for the time being, as Powell and others made it
clear that such a widespread war would destroy the
anti-terrorism coalition and infuriate Arab allies.
While this was neither the first nor the last time
Wolfowitz and Powell have clashed, the secretary of state
has not totally quashed the assistant secretary of
Wolfowitz' knack for the unexpected and his eagerness to
deploy American forces earned him a reputation for both
prescience and nuttiness, in the words of David Plotz.
Wolfowitz reportedly has said, for example, that "a
kiloton of prevention is worth a megaton of cure."
In October 2002, The New York Times published a leak
about Wolfowitz and his coterie. According to the
article, Wolfowitz wants an immediate war with Iraq,
believing that the targeting of Afghanistan, an already
impoverished wasteland, falls far short of stopping the
global war the cabalists are seeking. Iraq, however, is
just another stepping stone in turning the "war on
terrorism" into a full-blown "Clash of Civilizations,"
where the Islamic religion could become the "enemy image"
in a new Cold War.
The Times also revealed deep divisions within the Bush
administration, describing how the Wolfowitz clique plots
behind the backs of Cabinet officials such as Secretary
of State Powell in the name of the US government. "The
group wants to obliterate Iraq, and put the Palestinian
Authority and President Arafat on the terrorism list,"
wrote Michele Steinberg in the Oct. 26, 2001 issue of
Executive Intelligence Review.
The "Wolfowitz Cabal" is now determined to push the US in
the same direction as Israel's most dangerous right-wing
policy and take on as an enemy every Islamic nation
Israel perceives as a threat. In this Wolfowitz and his
colleague, Richard Perle, seem to have succeeded beyond
their wildest and most fevered dreams.
Richard H. Curtiss is the Executive Editor of the
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Magazine.