'Icy futurologist' is key player

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The Independent US

In the aftermath of the devastating attacks against America it has mercifully been words, not explosions, that have been resonating in Washington. And none has resonated louder than those of Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defence – a man who, with his boss Donald Rumsfeld, will have a key role in orchestrating America's military response to the terrorists.

Those words are worth repeating, as an indication of the fury against an as yet unrevealed enemy that prevails in the capital. The US would not confine itself to one-off strikes or simply capturing individuals and holding them accountable. It would set itself the task of "removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, and ending states who sponsor terrorism". The threat could not have been more clearly enunciated. What is envisaged, if needed, is total war.

And the man who formulated it was not President Bush, nor his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, nor even Mr Rumsfeld, who yields to few in his hawkishness. It was Mr Wolfowitz, a brilliant military futurologist whose icy calculations are redeemed only by a puckish sense of humour.

Mr Rumsfeld and Mr Wolfowitz make up a formidable team, a duo of like-minded hardliners that – at least until the world was turned upside down by terror – was winning the foreign and defence policy argument in Washington.

Mr Rumsfeld, as The New York Times memorably put it, is the "bureaucratic black belt", an ex-CEO and organisational steamroller determined to wrestle the US military into the 21st century. At 68 he has seen it all before, most notably as Defence Secretary under President Ford and, briefly, as a presidential candidate against the elder George Bush in 1988.

If Mr Rumsfeld provides the brawn, Mr Wolfowitz supplies the brain. He is a product of the "revolving door" of Washington life, a member of successive Republican administrations who retreated to academia while the Democrats were in office.

Before Mr Bush summoned him back to the Pentagon this year, Mr Wolfowitz held one of the most esteemed jobs in foreign policy studies, as Professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University's school of international studies in Washington. There he honed his uncompromising stance against China and North Korea.

When Mr Bush speaks about rogue states, the ideas are those of Mr Wolfowitz. Equally certainly, when Mr Wolfowitz speaks of "ending states", the thinking is shared by Mr Bush.