[R-G] Wolfowitz up to more mischief?
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
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
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
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
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
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.)
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