Ambassador Paul Wolfowitz

Distinguished Visiting Fellow
Biography: 

Ambassador Paul Wolfowitz is currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. He has spent more than three decades as a public servant and educator, including 24 years in US government service under seven presidents—including four years as US deputy secretary of defense (2001–5). He also served two years as president of the World Bank (2005­–7).

At the World Bank he led the successful implementation of the Gleaneagles debt cancellation and provided record levels of support for the poorest countries, particularly in Africa. He also developed a new World Bank strategy to address governance and anticorruption, as well as new strategies to address the needs of countries facing postconflict emergencies.

As deputy secretary of defense, Ambassador Wolfowitz oversaw the preparation of four regular budgets and four supplemental budgets, which included replacing the Crusader artillery system with precision artillery systems, cancelling the Comanche advanced helicopter to pay for new helicopters needed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and converting Ohio‑class nuclear attack submarines to nonnuclear cruise missile platforms. He also helped develop the Department of Defense’s role in responding to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and to guide the conduct of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Earlier, as director of policy planning at the State Department he helped develop President Reagan’s 1982 Middle East peace initiative. Subsequently, as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs under Secretary George Shultz, he was in charge of US policy for the restoration of democracy in the Philippines and for the early stages of the democratic transitions in South Korea and Taiwan, He also assisted President Reagan and Secretary Shultz in their rebalancing of US relations with China and Japan.

As ambassador to Indonesia from 1986 to 1989, Wolfowitz was known for his advocacy of reform and political openness and for his popularity among ordinary Indonesians. He returned to Washington to serve as under secretary of defense for policy (1989­­–93), where he played a central role in the diplomacy and military planning that liberated Kuwait and in the fund-raising effort that defrayed the cost of the war for US taxpayers.

Ambassador Wolfowitz studied mathematics and chemistry at Cornell University and received his PhD in political science from the University of Chicago. He has taught at Yale and Johns Hopkins University and was dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Ambassador Wolfowitz also served as chair of the US Taiwan Business Council and on the advisory boards of Gilead Sciences, ING Americas, and Isight Partners (since acquired by FireEye) as well as several nonprofits that support veterans and civilian victims of conflict. He is the recipient of several distinguished service awards from the Departments of Defense and State and the Presidential Citizen’s Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor.

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The ‘Forever War’ Hasn’t Ended

by Ambassador Paul Wolfowitzvia Strategika
Monday, September 27, 2021

Thursday’s attacks were a reminder that ‘the enemy always gets a vote.’ With the Afghanistan pullout, the long war against jihadists has become more daunting.

A Diplomat’s Diplomat

by Ambassador Paul Wolfowitzvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 26, 2021

How an “impossible dream” of freedom became, in one secretary of state’s practical hands, a reality. 

Featured AnalysisAnalysis and Commentary

Is China Pivoting To The Middle East?

by Ambassador Paul Wolfowitzvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 1, 2020

From the beginning, the “Pivot to Asia,” announced with some fanfare in late 2011 by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, was more about politics than strategy. It provided the appearance of a strategic rationale for the American retreat from the Middle East with its “endless wars,” taking advantage of our new-found “energy independence” to focus instead on the Asia-Pacific with its growing importance for American economic and security interests.

Featured AnalysisFeatured

Whither Indonesia?

by Ambassador Paul Wolfowitzvia The Caravan
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The news from Jakarta last April 20 presented a very sad juxtaposition. On the one hand, there was US Vice President Mike Pence, expressing his admiration for Indonesia’s tradition of religious tolerance and moderation and reassuring Indonesians on behalf of the Trump administration, that the new visa restrictions would not apply to Indonesians.  At the same time, the Acting Governor (equivalent of Mayor) of Jakarta, Basuki Cahaya Purnama – commonly known as Ahok – was facing a court in that city on the criminal charge of blaspheming Islam.