May 17, 2005


A world better off with Wolfowitz at bank helm (John Hughes, 5/18/05, CS Monitor)

I'm puzzled by the vilification of Wolfowitz in his Pentagon role as a kind of insensitive neocon with a lust for bloody warfare. As an assistant secretary of State in the Reagan administration, I worked closely with Assistant Secretary Wolfowitz for several years. We traveled together with Secretary of State George Shultz or President Reagan when they visited Asia, which was then Wolfowitz's special area of responsibility. We suffered together in foreign capitals through innumerable cocktail parties, state dinners, and time changes, gently prodding each other to stay awake and thus avoid embarrassing gaucheries of protocol.

Far from exhibiting any boorish tendencies, Wolfowitz was a rather shy, sometimes absent-minded intellectual amid the bureaucratic thickets of the State Department. Once, when we were standing next to each other in an early-morning receiving line in Tokyo, he whispered to me: "Do you happen to have a spare pair of black socks on you?" Bemused, I answered "No, but why?" Wolfowitz gently lifted a black pants leg above black shoes to exhibit a band of white flesh. Packing his bag the night before for early-morning pick-up by Marine guards, he'd neglected to keep out a pair of socks for the day's events.

There was a lighter side to him too. Once, coming home from Asia on a presidential trip, we were quartered in the presidential suite of the backup Air Force One, identical to the plane in which the president was flying. Thumbing through the president's library of videotapes, Wolfowitz determined that we would have a John Travolta film festival, and ran one Travolta movie after another across the Pacific.

What Wolfowitz always displayed was a steely commitment to democracy. When an Asian trip for Mr. Reagan was planned to include a visit to Ferdinand Marcos, then president of the Philippines, a distraught Wolfowitz enlisted my support to protest to Secretary Shultz. It was inconceivable, we argued, that the president should honor a leader who had such a dismal record on democracy. (We did not immediately prevail, but happily circumstances later conspired to get the visit canceled.)

This dedication to the spread of democracy has been Wolfowitz's guiding star through all his government posts, his ambassadorship to Indonesia, and of course his relentless determination in his Pentagon role to see Saddam Hussein removed from office and the people of Iraq gain their liberty.

And I believe it will be his primary motivation at the World Bank.

John Travolta?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 17, 2005 8:22 PM

Wow -- if he flew across the Pacific screening Moment by Moment or some of the other Travolta films that were out on video during the Reagan Administration, maybe he is as fiendish as the left has been trying to make him out to be. Lord only knows what would have happened had Battlefield Earth been out by then.

Posted by: John at May 17, 2005 11:19 PM

"But [Wolfowitz's] sinister reputation depends on little other than the fact that his name starts with a ferocious animal and ends Jewishly" -- Mark Steyn

Posted by: Benjamin at May 18, 2005 10:24 AM