News Articles, Outside Analysis

Analysis: Wolfowitz’s 1992 vision as 2002 U.S. Foreign Policy Reality

Another section in PBS/Frontline’s excellent “The War Behind Closed Doors” feature has analysis of Paul Wolfowitz’s then-controversial “Defense Planning Guidance” draft, and its resemblance to the Bush administration’s current foreign policy approach. The anaylsis is in the form of interviews with four people “in the know” in Washington D.C. — most notably William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and PNAC Chairman, whose interview will be featured in a separate entry here soon. The other experts are former Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman, and John Lewis Gaddis, Professor of Political Science at Yale University.

The main page features select questions and answers with each of the 4 experts, with links to the full interviews. Here’s an excerpt from one of those selections, with reporter Barton Gellman:

What were [the ’92 Wolfowitz Defense Planning Guidance draft’s] ramifications?

You have to take yourself back to 1992. This is the first time that the Defense Department gathers itself to say, “What is our new strategic mission in the world now that there is no more Soviet Union?”…

[And] they said, “Our number one mission in the world, now that we are the sole superpower is to make sure we stay that way.” They wanted to pocket that gain. And what was so politically insensitive in this internal document, which wasn’t meant for distribution, is it talked about not only Russia, but Germany, Japan, India, all as potential regional hegemons that could rise up to challenge the United States as at least a regional and, potentially, a global superpower. They said their number one mission is to quash that.

What was the reaction?

Well, most of the countries I just named were on some kind of friendly terms, or central allies of the United States. They were none too pleased to be named as potential rivals. The public reaction was, “Good God, we’re supposed to have a peace dividend now. The Cold War is over. Let’s get on with our lives. Of course, stay strong enough to protect ourselves. But what in the world are you doing, going out there and looking for trouble?”

It was very controversial in Congress. There was an enormous amount of commentary by the opinion leaders saying, “This is way over the top.” And, it was an election year. And they caved.

Read all the excerpts and interviews here.

And certainly don’t miss the interview with William Kristol, which is a surprisingly frank and revealing look at how Wolfowitz’s once-controversial agenda came to be wholly embraced by President Bush in the wake of 9-11. That interview is a “must-read”.

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