Chris Nelson, the venerable editor/author of the highly regarded daily Washington/Asia insider newsletter, “The Nelson Report,” reports tonight that the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council has appointed Paul Wolfowitz as its next chairman. Apparently, the Council’s board believes that, despite his disastrous performance as Deputy Defense Secretary and World Bank president, Wolfowitz, who retreated to the cozy precincts of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) after his ignominious departure from the World Bank and was named by Condi Rice as chairman of the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board last year, has retained the presumed expertise on East Asia that he gained from his tenure as ambassador to Indonesia and assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs under Ronald Reagan more than 20 years ago. Unlike his former boss, Donald Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz has not been a China hawk and has generally supported the status quo vis-a-vis China and Taiwan.
I can’t really understand the logic of choosing someone whose strategic and ethical judgments have been as discredited as Wolfowitz’s in recent years, particularly if the Democrats win the White House in November. But I suppose he and some his AEI colleagues could be useful in pitching U.S.-made hi-tech weapons systems to Taiwan. Wolfowitz used to consult with Northrop Grumman, which is eager to sell such equipment. (His nominal subordinate at the Pentagon, Douglas Feith, also has a history with the company.) And John Bolton, who is also based at AEI, was a paid lobbyist for the island during the 1990’s, although his views on China are considerably to the right of Wolfowitz’s.
UPDATE: I just received this from Tim Shorrock, a great investigative journalist and long-timel contributor to IPS who has just published the chilling “Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing”, which was favorably reviewed in Sunday’s Washington Post. His last article for IPS highlighted one aspect of the book’s focus and can be seen here.
Just saw your May 19 item on Wolfowitz and the US Taiwan Council.
Here’s the deal, in my opinion: Wolfowitz is being rewarded for the fine work he did for US defense contractors in Taiwan back when he was at the Pentagon. As I reported in Asia Times way back when, Wolfowitz was the highest level US defense official to meet openly with Taiwan military officials in decades. This happened under the auspices of the council in 2002 when Frank Carlucci was running it.
Wolfie’s meetings helped clear the way for major new arms sales to Taiwan, which have become a big issue inside the island nation.
Anyway, here’s a link to the piece: