George Will

WASHINGTON -- ``I can't tell you,'' Paul Wolfowitz says with justifiable asperity, ``how much I resent being called a Wilsonian.'' As he retires as deputy secretary of defense and becomes head of the World Bank, the man most responsible for the doctrinal justification of the Iraq War, and who has been characterized as representing Woodrow Wilson's utopian, rather than the realist, strain in American foreign policy, begs to differ. The question, he says, is who has been realistic for almost four decades.

     The sprouting of freedom through the fissures in the concrete of dictatorships began, he recalls, in Greece, Spain and Portugal in the mid-1970s. This, he believes, disturbed Soviet leaders, and should have: It called into question the realism of ``realists'' who, he says, ``were factually wrong'' in dismissing the possibility of undermining the Soviet regime with pressures short of force.

     Those include pressures for human rights and on economies. In the early 1980s, Wolfowitz was part of the successful resistance to abolishing the State Department's Bureau of Human Rights. This was more than a decade after he worked with Sen. Henry Jackson, the Washington Democrat, in preparing for Jackson's extraordinary debate with Stuart Symington, the Missouri Democrat, about ballistic missile defenses.

     The debate occurred in an almost unprecedented closed session of the Senate in the summer of 1969. Symington argued that offensive weapons can always overwhelm defenses. Jackson, Wolfowitz recalls, said yes, but the side building the offensive systems can bankrupt itself in the process, as the Soviet Union came to understand in its death throes.

     In the early 1980s, Wolfowitz says, when he was Secretary of State George Shultz's assistant secretary for East Asia, it was the so-called realists who said Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines was a thug, but our thug. But the assassination of opposition leader Benigno Aquino in 1983 showed, Wolfowitz says, the limited ability of brutal power to sustain a regime. There in 1986, and the following year in South Korea, U.S. involvement helped enlarge freedom.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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