March 17, 2005

Bush Taps Wolfowitz '65 As Head of World Bank

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President Bush named Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz ’65 as his choice to be the new head of the World Bank yesterday.

His nomination is subject to approval by the World Bank’s board. He would replace James Wolfensohn who will step down from his second five-year term on June 1.

In a press conference yesterday, President Bush explained that he chose Wolfowitz because he is “a man of good experience.”

Wolfowitz, who holds the number two position in the Pentagon, had become a lightning rod for criticism on the Iraq war because he was one of its principal architects. He has especially been criticized for underestimating the amount of troops need in the Iraq war.

Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation told the Associated Press that Wolfowitz’s selection demonstrates that “neoconservatism maintains a tenacious, tight grip on U.S. foreign policy.”

“I really believe in the mission of the bank, which is reducing poverty,” Wolfowitz told The Associated Press in an interview. “It is a noble mission and a matter of enlightened self-interest.”

Wolfowitz grew up on The Hill, even taking college classes as a student at Ithaca High School while his father, Jacob, taught mathematics at the University.

He began his undergraduate career following in his father’s footsteps, studying theoretical mathematics, but drifted away from that path after he graduated with a bachelors in mathematics.

He traveled to the Midwest where he studied political science at the University of Chicago, eventually graduating with a Ph.D in 1972.

After finishing his advanced degree, he began teaching political science at Yale, but soon moved into the political arena.

From 1977 to 1980, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Regional Programs. According to his official biography on the Defense Department’s website, it was during this tenure that he first began to analyze the strategic importance of the Middle East.

He led a “major assessment of U.S. strategic interests and challenges in the Persian Gulf, a study which helped to create what later became the United States Central Command.”

He held another post in the Pentagon in 1989, when former President George H.W. Bush appointed him to serve as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy — the number three position in the Department of Defense. During his second tenure in the Pentagon he assisted then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney in the Gulf War.

Before being appointed to his present position in the Pentagon, Wolfowitz served from 1994-2001 as Dean and Professor of International Relations at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of The Johns Hopkins University.

Archived article by Michael Margolis
Sun Senior Writer