That must be one hell of a guardian angel Paul Wolfowitz has looking out for him.
While his former bosses Bush and Cheney are paying the price in public disapproval for leading us into the debacle in Iraq, Wolfowitz, one of the key architects of the war, has been successfully repackaged as the warm and fuzzy poverty-fighting president of the World Bank, and treated like an elder statesman.
There he was weighing in on fighting poverty around the globe at Bill Clinton's Global Initiative summit and at Teddy Forstmann's Aspen Weekend gathering of movers and shakers (where, I hear, he said not one word about Iraq).
Talk about your Extreme Political Makeover. Wolfie has gone from war hawk to the second coming of Mother Teresa -- all without having to make any kind of redemptive pit stop in political purgatory or having to apologize for being so wrong about Iraq. I guess, these days, love means never having to say you're sorry for helping launch an unnecessary and disastrous war.
And isn't it interesting how the World Bank has now become the go-to nesting spot for the architects of such wars? Back in 1968, fresh off leading America deep into Vietnam, Robert McNamara resigned from the Pentagon and headed to the World Bank, where he served as president for the next 13 years (often weeping while delivering his annual reports about the world's poor).
No tears yet from Wolfie, but he has begun saying things like "Nothing is more gratifying than being able to help people in need" and "A clear message from modern history is that this is a small world... and that leaving people behind is a formula for failure for us all." Is this the same neocon zealot who, under the direction of Cheney, oversaw the drafting of the 1992 "Defense Planning Guidance" -- a bellicose blueprint for establishing "world order" under American authority that included the toppling of Saddam Hussein (and which became the intellectual foundation for the preemptive invasion of Iraq)?
Yes it is. But apparently Wolfowitz would prefer to keep all that messy Iraq business locked away in his past. A source tells me that his official bio at the Forstmann event skipped right over his role in the war. How convenient.
Soon after taking office, he said, "I had quite honestly hoped to leave the Pentagon behind me in this job." And, at an appearance in Japan last month, he told reporters: "I'm not here any longer as a Bush administration official and I don't have to defend their record." Oh, so it's "their" record now, is it?
Well, World Bank Wolfie may want to forget all about Wartime Wolfie -- but we shouldn't, we can't, and we won't.
We remember that it was Wolfowitz who, in the run up to the war, mocked Gen. Shinseki as "wildly off the mark" for saying the U.S. would need at least 200,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. "It's hard to conceive," Wolfowitz told Congress three weeks before the invasion, "that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam's security forces and his army. Hard to imagine." That failure of imagination has led to the death and mutilation of thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis.
And we remember how Wolfowitz pooh-poohed the idea that the U.S. would be saddled with the bill for the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq. "The idea that [cost of war estimates are] going to be eclipsed by these monstrous future costs ignores the nature of the country we're dealing with," he lectured Congress, going on to explain that Iraq had "$10 to $20 billion in frozen assets from the Gulf War," and generated "on the order of $15 billion to $20 billion a year in oil exports." "There's a lot of money there," he insisted, "and to assume that we're going to pay for it is just wrong."
"Just wrong," indeed. The taxpayer tab for Iraq is a "monstrous" $250 billion -- and rising.
No wonder World Bank Wolfie wants to leave Wartime Wolfie in the past and move on -- without being held accountable.
We mustn't let it happen.