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Giving Wolfowitz His Due

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Giving Wolfowitz His Due

 

March 8, 2005

OP-ED COLUMNIST

By DAVID BROOKS

 

et us now praise Paul Wolfowitz. Let us now take another look at the man who has pursued - longer and more forcefully than almost anyone else - the supposedly utopian notion that people across the Muslim world might actually hunger for freedom.

 

Let us look again at the man who's been vilified by Michael Moore and the rest of the infantile left, who's been condescended to by the people who consider themselves foreign policy grown-ups, and who has become the focus of much anti-Semitism in the world today - the center of a zillion Zionist conspiracy theories, and a hundred zillion clever-Jew-behind-the-scenes calumnies.

 

It's not necessary to absolve Wolfowitz of all sin or to neglect the postwar screw-ups in Iraq. Historians will figure out who was responsible for what, and Wolfowitz will probably come in for his share of the blame. But with political earthquakes now shaking the Arab world, it's time to step back and observe that over the course of his long career - in the Philippines, in Indonesia, in Central and Eastern Europe, and now in the Middle East - Wolfowitz has always been an ardent champion of freedom. And he has usually played a useful supporting role in making sure that pragmatic, democracy-promoting policies were put in place.

 

If the trends of the last few months continue, Wolfowitz will be the subject of fascinating biographies decades from now, while many of his smuggest critics will be forgotten. Those biographies will mention not only his intellectual commitment but also his personal commitment, his years spent learning the languages of the places that concerned him, and the thousands of hours spent listening deferentially to the local heroes who led the causes he supported.

 

To praise Wolfowitz is not triumphalism. The difficulties ahead are obvious. It's simple justice. It's a recognition that amid all the legitimate criticism, this guy has been the subject of a vicious piling-on campaign by people who know less than nothing about what is actually going on in the government, while he, in the core belief that has energized his work, may turn out to be right.

 

I've had only two long conversations with Wolfowitz. The second was the day after the Iraqi vote. I figured that would be an interesting day to get a sense of his mood.

 

He wasn't nearly as exuberant as I expected him to be, in part because, like everybody in government, he's busy with the constant flow of decisions. He said he spent 75 percent of his time on the Pentagon's budget and administration.

 

He deflected all my Oprahesque attempts to get him to open up and describe what it's felt like to be him for the past few years. Our tissues remained dry.

 

But he was eager to think ahead. "It's fascinating how many echoes this is going to have," he said. "The Iraqi election is an inspiration. It's going to be a real challenge to all absolute rulers."

 

He went on to suggest that American democracy-promotion could now get back onto its preferred course. Iraq, he said, was the outlier. "Iraq is exceptional because of the use of the U.S. military," he observed.

 

Normally, the U.S. plays the supporting role. For example, Americans can usefully raise the profile of dissidents so dictators feel less inclined to kill them. Wolfowitz was the first U.S. official to meet with Corazón Aquino. The U.S. can use its access to dictators to pressure and annoy them. Wolfowitz worked with George Shultz in the testy exchanges with Ronald Reagan, who was less inclined to ease Ferdinand Marcos out the door.

 

The U.S. can spark debates, but it cannot conduct them. When he was ambassador to Indonesia, Wolfowitz gave a speech calling for political "openness." He was careful not to use the words "freedom" or "democracy" because under Suharto, Indonesians might have felt inhibited about talking in such bold terms. But they were comfortable with openness, and it became the subject of magazine cover stories and a great national discussion.

 

Wolfowitz doesn't talk like those foreign policy blowhards who think the world is run by chessmasters sitting around at summits. He talks about national poets, national cultures and the power of people to bring sweeping change. His faith in people probably led to some of the mistakes in Iraq. But with change burbling in Beirut, with many young people proudly hoisting the Lebanese flag (in a country that was once a symbol of tribal factionalism), it's time to take a look at this guy again.

 

 

E-mail: dabrooks@nytimes.com

 

لا تغضبوا.. وتعالوا ننصف الرجل..!

 

ديفيد بروكس

 

لنتجه بالثناء إلى بول وولفوفيتز، ولنتخذ الآن موقفا آخر من الرجل الذي تابع بصورة أكثر وأقوى من أي شخص آخر، المفهوم الطوباوي، افتراضا من أن الناس في العالم الاسلامي ربما يتوقون في نهاية المطاف الى الحرية. ولننظر ثانية الى الرجل الذي لوث سمعته مايكل مور، وبقية اليساريين الطفوليين، وتعالى عليه أشخاص يعتبرون أنفسهم ناضجين في مجال السياسة الخارجية. وليس من الضروري ان نغفر لوولفوفيتز ما اقترفه من آثام او نتجاهل الفوضى بالعراق، لأن المؤرخين هم الذين سيحددون من هو المسؤول، وربما يتحمل وولفوفيتز نصيبه وقتذاك من اللوم. ولكن ارتباطا بالزلازل السياسية التي تهز العالم العربي في الوقت الحالي، فقد آن الأوان للعودة للوراء، وملاحظة ان وولفويتز وفي مجرى سيرته المهنية الطويلة كان وعلى الدوام بطلا متحمسا للحرية، فيما لعب دورا مهما في التوثق من أن السياسات البراغماتية الداعمة للديمقراطية كانت تطبق. واذا ما تواصلت اتجاهات الأشهر الأخيرة، فإن وولفوفيتز سيكون موضوعا لسير حياة مدهشة لفترة عقود من الزمن، بينما سينسى الناس كثيرا من انتقدوه. وسيتم إعادة تلك السير، ليس فقط التزامه الفكري، وانما لالتزامه الشخصي ايضا، وهناك السنوات التي قضاها وهو يتعلم لغات الأماكن التي كانت موضع اهتمامه، وآلاف الساعات التي قضاها وهو يصغي باهتمام، الى الأبطال المحليين الذين قادوا القضايا التي قدم لها الدعم.

ان الثناء على وولفوفيتز لا ينحصر في اطار المآثر، لأن الصعوبات التي تقف امامه واضحة. انه اعتراف بأنه وسط النقد المشروع، كان هذا الشخص موضوع حمية شريرة من جانب اشخاص لا يعرفون أي شيء عما يجري في الحكومة حقا، في وقت ارتبط نشاطه المستند الى معتقدات حية بالصواب. من جانبي تحدثت مع وولفوفيتز مرتين، كانت إحداهما في اليوم الذي اعقب يوم الانتخابات العراقية، وقدرت ان ذلك سيكون يوما مناسبا، وسيكون فيه مزاجه رائقا. ولكنه لم يكن سخيا كما توقعت، ويعود جزء من ذلك الى أنه كان شأن كل المسؤولين في الحكومة مشغول بالتدفق المتواصل للقرارات. وقال إنه قضى 75 في المائة من وقته في ميزانية وادارة وزارة الدفاع.

وقد تملص من جميع محاولاتي جعله ينفتح ويصف وضعه وتجربته خلال السنوات القليلة الماضية. ولكن من الواضح أنه تواق للتفكير بالمستقبل والنظر الى الآفاق. وقال انه ضمن المدهش كم من الأصداء ستكون لما يجري الآن. فالانتخابات العراقية مصدر إلهام. وستكون تحديا حقيقيا لكل الحكام الشموليين. ومضى الى الايحاء بأن الدعم الأميركي للديمقراطية يمكن أن يعود الآن الى مساره السليم، مشيرا الى أن «العراق استثناء بسبب استخدام القوة العسكرية الأميركية».

ومن المألوف أن تلعب أميركا دورا داعما. فالأميركيون يمكن أن يعززوا صورة المعارضين حتى يشعر الدكتاتوريون باستعداد أقل لقتلهم. وفي الفلبين كان وولفوفيتز أول مسؤول أميركي يلتقي بكورازون أكينو، وتستطيع أميركا أن تستخدم صلاتها للضغط على الدكتاتوريين وايذائهم، وقد عمل وولفوفيتز مع جورج شولتز في عهد الرئيس ريغان في اطار ازاحة فرديناند ماركوس.

ويمكن لسياسات واشنطن أن تثير المجادلات، ولكنها لا تستطيع ان تتحكم في مساراتها. فعندما كان سفيرا في اندونيسيا ألقى وولفوفيتز خطابا دعا فيه الى «الانفتاح» السياسي. وكان حذرا من استخدام كلمات «الحرية» و«الديمقراطية»، ذلك انه وفي ظل حكم سوهارتو ربما أثارت مثل تلك المفردات بعض الحساسيات.

وهو لا يتحدث مثل المدعين العاملين في مجال السياسة الخارجية ممن يعتقدون ان العالم يمكن أن يدار من جانب أساتذة في لعبة الشطرنج، لأنه يتحدث عن الشعراء الوطنيين والثقافات الوطنية وقدرة الشعب على تحقيق تغييرات هائلة. وربما قادته ثقته بالناس لبعض الأخطاء في العراق، ولكن ومع الأوضاع التي تنذر بتغيير في بيروت، فإنه آن الأوان لإلقاء نظرة جدية على شخص كهذا.

 

www.aaswat.com

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Guest Mustefser

Wolfowitz Nod Follows Spread of Conservative Philosophy

By TODD S. PURDUM

 

Published: March 17, 2005

 

 

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.

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