Wolfowitz Doctrine is an unofficial name given to the initial version of the Defense Planning Guidance for the 1994–99 fiscal years (dated February 18, 1992) authored by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz and his deputy Scooter Libby. Not intended for public release, it was leaked to the New York Times on March 7, 1992, and sparked a public controversy about U.S. foreign and defense policy. The document was widely criticized as imperialist as the document outlined a policy of unilateralism and pre-emptive military action to suppress potential threats from other nations and prevent any other nation from rising to superpower status.
Such was the outcry that the document was hastily re-written under the close supervision of U.S. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell before being officially released on April 16, 1992. Many of its tenets re-emerged in the Bush Doctrine, which was described by Senator Edward M. Kennedy as "a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept."
The doctrine announces the U.S’s status as the world’s only remaining superpower following the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War and proclaims its main objective to be retaining that status.
Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.
This was substantially re-written in the April 16 release.
Our most fundamental goal is to deter or defeat attack from whatever source... The second goal is to strengthen and extend the system of defense arrangements that binds democratic and like-minded nations together in common defense against aggression, build habits of cooperation, avoid the renationalization of security policies, and provide security at lower costs and with lower risks for all. Our preference for a collective response to preclude threats or, if necessary, to deal with them is a key feature of our regional defense strategy. The third goal is to preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests, and also thereby to strengthen the barriers against the re-emergence of a global threat to the interests of the U.S. and our allies.
The doctrine establishes the U.S’s leadership role within the new world order.
The U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. In non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. We must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.
This was substantially re-written in the April 16 release.
One of the primary tasks we face today in shaping the future is carrying long standing alliances into the new era, and turning old enmities into new cooperative relationships. If we and other leading democracies continue to build a democratic security community, a much safer world is likely to emerge. If we act separately, many other problems could result.
The doctrine downplays the value of international coalitions.
Like the coalition that opposed Iraqi aggression, we should expect future coalitions to be ad hoc assemblies, often not lasting beyond the crisis being confronted, and in many cases carrying only general agreement over the objectives to be accomplished. Nevertheless, the sense that the world order is ultimately backed by the U.S. will be an important stabilizing factor.
This was re-written with a change in emphasis in the April 16 release.
Certain situations like the crisis leading to the Gulf War are likely to engender ad hoc coalitions. We should plan to maximize the value of such coalitions. This may include specialized roles for our forces as well as developing cooperative practices with others.
The doctrine stated the U.S’s right to intervene when and where it believed necessary.
While the U.S. cannot become the world's policeman, by assuming responsibility for righting every wrong, we will retain the preeminent responsibility for addressing selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but those of our allies or friends, or which could seriously unsettle international relations.
This was softened slightly in the April 16 release.
While the United States cannot become the world's policeman and assume responsibility for solving every international security problem, neither can we allow our critical interests to depend solely on international mechanisms that can be blocked by countries whose interests may be very different than our own. Where our allies interests are directly affected, we must expect them to take an appropriate share of the responsibility, and in some cases play the leading role; but we maintain the capabilities for addressing selectively those security problems that threaten our own interests.
The doctrine highlighted the possible threat posed by a resurgent Russia.
We continue to recognize that collectively the conventional forces of the states formerly comprising the Soviet Union retain the most military potential in all of Eurasia; and we do not dismiss the risks to stability in Europe from a nationalist backlash in Russia or efforts to reincorporate into Russia the newly independent republics of Ukraine, Belarus, and possibly others....We must, however, be mindful that democratic change in Russia is not irreversible, and that despite its current travails, Russia will remain the strongest military power in Eurasia and the only power in the world with the capability of destroying the United States.
This was removed from the April 16 release in favour of a more diplomatic approach.
The U.S. has a significant stake in promoting democratic consolidation and peaceful relations between Russia, Ukraine and the other republics of the former Soviet Union.
The doctrine clarified the strategic value of the Middle East and Southwest Asia.
In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region's oil.
The April 16 release was much more circumspect and reaffirmed U.S. commitments to Israel.
In the Middle East and Persian Gulf, we seek to foster regional stability, deter aggression against our friends and interests in the region, protect U.S. nationals and property, and safeguard our access to international air and seaways and to the region's oil. The United States is committed to the security of Israel and to maintaining the qualitative edge that is critical to Israel's security. Israel's confidence in its security and U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation contribute to the stability of the entire region, as demonstrated once again during the Persian Gulf War. At the same time, our assistance to our Arab friends to defend themselves against aggression also strengthens security throughout the region, including for Israel.
- Tyler 1992.
- Gaddis 2002, p. 52: "Preemption […] requires hegemony. Although Bush speaks, in his letter of transmittal, of creating 'a balance of power that favors human freedom' while forsaking 'unilateral advantage,' the body of the NSS makes it clear that 'our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.' The West Point speech put it more bluntly: 'America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge.' The president has at last approved, therefore, Paul Wolfowitz's controversial recommendation to this effect, made in a 1992 'Defense Planning Guidance' draft subsequently leaked to the press and then disavowed by the first Bush administration. It's no accident that Wolfowitz, as deputy secretary of defense, has been at the center of the new Bush administration's strategic planning."
- Caputo Leiva 2007, p. 10.
- Bush, George W. (1 June 2002). "Remarks to the U.S. Military Academy". cfr.org. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
- Gaddis, John Lewis (2002). "Grand Strategy of Transformation". Foreign Policy (133): 50–57. JSTOR 3183557.
Gaddis's essay is reprinted in Paul Bolt, Damon V. Coletta and Collins G. Shackleford Jr., eds., (2005), American Defense Policy (8th ed.), Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
- Caputo Leiva, Orlando (2007). "The World Economy and the United States at the Beginning of the Twenty-first Century". Latin American Perspectives 34 (1): 9–15. doi:10.1177/0094582x06296357. JSTOR 27647989.
- Tyler, Patrick E. (8 March 1992). "U.S. Strategy Plan Calls For Insuring No Rivals Develop". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
- Defense Policy Guidance 1992–1994
- Defense Strategy for the 1990s: The Regional Defense Strategy, (PDF 1.6MB)
- Patrick Tyler. U.S. Strategy Plan Calls for Insuring No Rivals Develop: A One-Superpower World, New York Times, March 8, 1992.
- Jim Lobe. The Anniversary of a Neo-Imperial Moment, AlterNet, September 12, 2002.
- David Armstrong. Drafting a plan for global dominance, Harper's Magazine, October 2002.
- David Yost. Dissuasion and Allies, Strategic Insights, February 2005.
- Patrick J. Buchanan Whose war?, The American Conservative, March 2003.
- Applying the Wolfowitz Doctrine post the September 11 attacks: Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear and the Selling of American Empire, 2004.