| By Jane O’Brien
BBC, Washington DC
Former World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz has been appointed head of an influential panel advising the US government on arms control.
Mr Wolfowitz was ousted from the Bank last year over a scandal involving payments to his girlfriend, who was also a bank employee at the time.
He has long been a controversial figure in US and international politics.
As the Pentagon’s number two after Donald Rumsfeld, he was one of the leading architects of the war in Iraq.
Mr Wolfowitz’s insider status at the White House made him many enemies at home and abroad.
After a stormy two-year tenure at the World Bank, he was forced to leave because he authorised a large compensation package for his girlfriend.
His departure was further clouded by claims that he had tarnished the bank’s reputation and strained relations with other countries – particularly in Europe.
His return to government comes at a time when many key figures of the Bush administration are leaving.
The State Department has confirmed his appointment as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board which provides the department with independent advice on arms control and disarmament.
Mr Wolfowitz will report on a number of current sensitive issues such as nuclear deals with India and North Korea, and Iran’s contentious nuclear programme.
He is currently a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute – a conservative think-tank in Washington DC.
Paul Wolfowitz has been wrong, seriously wrong, co-conspiratorially wrong in every job he has held in the Bush administration. He is as wild-eyed a supporter of Israel as probably anyone other than Louis Rene Beres and is a dangerous man to have chairing any committee that has the power to advise on Iranian-Israeli relations.
Wolfowitz has been quoted on pre-emptive war, the unprovoked attack against suspected adversaries as follows;
“I think the premise of a policy has to be we can’t afford to wait for proof beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a way in which any number of terrorist regimes have, over the last 20 years, gotten away with doing things that I think encourage more behavior of that kind. You can’t wait until you have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that somebody did something in the past, you know that people are planning to do something against you in the future and that they’re developing incredibly destructive weapons to do it with and that’s not tolerable.”
If you parse those statements carefully, they all but freeze your blood.
Wolfowitz sounds very much to me like the man Dick Cheney sees as giving him the argument he wants to go ahead and invade Iran.
Why, one must ask, would any right-minded administration official appoint a guy with Wolfowitz’s dead-wrong record at the Pentagon, to chair a committee as sensitive as the International Security Advisory Board? Is this some bizarre plan to confront Condoleeza Rice with the last still-standing (albeit on shaky legs) Cheney mandate?
Wolfowitz no longer has any remaining scrap of international reputation, after having misled, misunderstood, misinterpreted and mismanaged the Iraq War as Donald Rumsfeld’s co-conspirator. Although his girlfriend’s employment contract was the cover for his being kicked out of the World Bank, the not-so-behind-the-scenes reasons were mismanagement, misleading and misunderstanding the Bank’s role in the world–not made any more palatable by an extreme of arrogance.
To say that Paul is not a team player is to understate the case.
To say that he is the most dangerous and unbalanced choice possible for the position to which he has been appointed is an understatement as well.