[R-G] Wolfowitz up to more mischief?

Anthony Fenton fentona at shaw.ca
Mon Oct 6 23:01:17 MDT 2008

Oct 3, 2008

Wolfowitz up to more mischief?
By Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - Just 15 months after being forced to resign as president  
of the World Bank over a conflict of interest regarding his  
professional and personal relationship with his girlfriend, former  
deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz may be involved in another,  
far more geostrategic conflict of interest.

It involves his dual roles as chairman of the State Department's  
International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) and chairman of the US- 
Taiwan Business Council. Among the latter's US members are military  
contractors who have been dying to get the George W Bush  
administration's approval to sell about US$11 billion worth of arms to  
the island to protect it against the threat of an attack by the  

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appointed Wolfowitz as

chairman of the arms-control advisory panel - apparently as part of  
the campaign to secure the appointment of Eliot Cohen to become to her  
counselor at the State Department, to co-opt neo-conservatives - in  
January this year.

Like the Defense Policy Board, the ISAB became a stronghold for all  
manner of national security hawks under Bush, with former under  
secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Robert  
Joseph, James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence  
Agency, and former defense secretary James Schlesinger among its  

It also is joined by missile-defense devotees associated with the  
Center for Security Policy, the National Institute for Public Policy  
and Southwest Missouri State University as well as executives from the  
arms industry - Lockheed, Boeing, and Science Applications  
International Corp (SAIC), to name a few.

Wolfowitz's appointment, coming after his disgrace at the bank - not  
to mention his performance as deputy to former defense secretary  
Donald Rumsfeld and superior of then-under secretary of defense  
Douglas Feith from 2001 to 2005 - was seen as a kind of token public  
redemption that would presumably have little consequence in actual  
policy terms.

That assessment may have been premature, because, judging by an  
article appearing in Wednesday's Washington Times by Bill Gertz,  
Wolfowitz's ISAB may be trying to gin up tensions with China, acting  
as a new "Team B" in persuading policymakers and the public at large  
that Beijing's military modernization, especially its missile program,  
is more threatening to the US than, in Gertz's words, "many current  
government and private-sector analyses" have depicted it.

At least, that is the message of the article, which is purportedly  
based on a draft of an ISAB report that Gertz says is due out in a few  

According to Gertz's account, the report, which is the product of a  
task force headed by Joseph, recommends the US "undertake the  
development of new weapons, sensors, communications and other programs  
and tactics to convince China that it will not be able to overcome the  
US militarily".

It also specifically recommends that the US obtain, in Gertz's words,  
"New offensive space and cyber warfare capabilities and missile  
defenses as well as more robust sea- and space-based capabilities to  
deter any crisis over Taiwan."

As Gertz points out, Washington has until now repeatedly reassured  
Beijing that its missile defense efforts were directed solely against  
"rogue states" like North Korea and Iran.

The report also predicts that China will have more than 100 nuclear  
missiles, some with multiple warheads, capable of reaching the US by  
2015, compared to only 20 missiles at the present time. "To avoid an  
'emerging creep' by China toward strategic nuclear coercion, 'the  
United States will need to pursue new missile defense capabilities,  
including taking full advantage of space'," Gertz quotes the report as  

The report, according to Gertz, also stresses - and this is where  
Wolfowitz's stewardship of the US-Taiwan Business Council raises  
questions - the pivotal importance of Taiwan in all this. Again  
quoting from the draft, Gertz writes:

     In China's view, Taiwan is the key to breakout: If China is to  
become a global power, the first step must include control of this  
island. Taking over the island would allow China to control the seas  
near its coasts and to project power eastward ...

     China views Taiwan ... as central to "the legitimacy of the  
regime and key to power projection", the report said. Taiwan is seen  
by China as a way to deny the United States a key ally in "a highly  
strategic location" of the western Pacific, it adds ... The advisory  
panel report also recommended that the US increase sales of advanced  
conventional forces to allies in Asia ...

Now, one has to be careful about anything that Gertz reports,  
particularly about China, as he is a charter member of the "Blue Team"  
- a group of hawkish policy specialists, congressional staff, and  
journalists which includes neo-con luminaries such as William Kristol  
and Robert Kagan and their Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

The Blue team insisted from the end of the Cold War until the  
September 11, 2001, attacks that Beijing represented the single  
greatest threat to US hegemony and global peace and security, while  
Gertz has been obsessed with ChiComs (Chinese communists) for years  
and has certainly been known to exaggerate and take things out of  
context in his zeal to alert the world to the looming peril that  
confronts it.

It is also important to stress that this report remains a draft, which  
could be substantially toned down before it reaches final form. It may  
not yet have even been seen by Wolfowitz, whose chapter on China  
policy in Present Dangers - the book published by PNAC before the 2000  
elections, was almost certainly considered insufficiently alarmist by  
Blue Team stalwarts like Gertz.

That said, it is clear that someone associated with ISAB wanted to  
leak what - to China anyway - will be seen as a highly provocative  
document that will tend to confirm the worst fears of its military,  
which according to the draft, already suffers from "clear paranoia"  
about US intentions, particularly with respect to missile defense and  
the military use of space.

It is also clear that the leaker is also very concerned about the  
pivotal role Taiwan could play in thwarting what the task force sees  
as China's military ambitions and hence the importance not only of  
enhancing US capabilities, but, presumably, of selling advanced  
weapons to the island, as well.

Moreover, the leak comes at a critical moment in the administration's  
deliberations about the long-pending arms package for Taiwan, whose  
approval Wolfowitz and other advocates had hoped would have been  
forthcoming last week.

Taiwan is hoping to acquire seven weapons systems from the US as part  
of the package - anti-tank missiles, Apache helicopters, Patriot PAC-3  
missile batteries, diesel-electric submarines, P3C Orion anti- 
submarine aircraft, sea-launched Harpoon anti-ship missiles and Black  
Eagle helicopters.

Wolfowitz in July virtually assured his friends at the Business  
Council in Taipei that Bush would go ahead with the package some time  
after the Beijing Summer Olympic Games in August. But according to  
Chris Nelson of the Nelson Report, a recent study by a Naval War  
College expert - which has gained considerable attention from  
administration policymakers - argues that much in the pending package  
will do very little, if anything, to improve Taiwan's ability to  
resist an attack by Beijing.

The study proposed an alternative "porcupine" strategy for defending  
the island which, it noted, would likely be strongly opposed by "the  
arms manufacturers who stand to benefit form the sale of aircraft,  
ships, and supporting systems to Taiwan" that are included in the  
current package.

Needless to say, some of those same arms manufacturers were behind  
Wolfowitz's selection as the (well-paid) chairman of the Business  
Council, and they would be sorely disappointed if his influence and  
connections with the administration did not yield the anticipated  
dividends (see Paul Wolfowitz: A man to keep a close eye on, March 21,  

Nelson reported on Wednesday that the arms manufacturers have indeed  
won the day and that most, if not all of the package will be approved  
by the White House.

But the episode still raises important questions, particularly in  
light of the current election debate over the influence of lobbyists  
in Washington policy-making, about conflicts of interests.

Once again, Wolfowitz's actions suggest that his grasp of the concept  
is pretty shaky. On the other hand, the presence of senior executives  
from Lockheed (a huge beneficiary of the current package) and Boeing,  
among other arms contractors heavily invested in missile defense and  
space weapons, on the State Department's board indicate that Wolfowitz  
is not exactly alone in that respect. (Gertz reports that Allison  
Fortier, a Lockheed vice president, served on the task force that  
produced the draft.) "It's basically functioning like a lobbyist  
group," Nelson told me.

This article is taken from Jim Lobe's blog on US foreign policy, and  
particularly the neo-conservative influence in the Bush  
administration. Lobe is the Washington Bureau Chief of the  
international news agency Inter Press Service.

(Copyright 2008 Jim Lobe.) 

More information about the Rad-Green mailing list