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The USF-Wolfowitz connection

What is the connection between USF and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz? During the past few years, much has been said about Wolfowitz. He is known as the chief architect of our government’s doctrine of pre-emptive war, and his decades-long determination to change the character and boundaries of the countries in the Middle East has had a profound influence on our foreign policy.

But who is Paul Wolfowitz? With a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Cornell University and a doctorate in political science from the University of Chicago, Wolfowitz went on to teach at Yale, Johns Hopkins and the National War College. In the late 1970s, as deputy assistant secretary of defense, he helped create the force that later became the U.S. Central Command. During Reagan’s presidency, Paul served as the U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, and under his leadership the embassy in Jakarta was rated as one of the best-managed embassies. Paul’s accomplishments are legion, as is attested to by the numerous medals-of-honor and awards bestowed upon him for his public service.

Enter the pre-emptive war against Iraq. It has become abundantly clear that our war with Iraq had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. It is an ideological war that has been on the books for over a decade. To blame President George W. Bush for the absence of WMDs and an al-Qaida connection is to miss the point. If the president knew as indisputable fact that Iraq indeed had stockpiles of chemical and biological agents as well as nuclear bombs, would he have sent our men and women into Iraq causing a major human catastrophe and a political suicide? Clearly, Iraq was a defenseless country and no match to our superior forces. That begs the question, is invading Iraq part of a Middle East master plan devised and promoted by a group upon whom our president depended that includes Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with Wolfowitz as the driving force?

Undoubtedly, we are the most powerful nation in the world today. We have the capability to annihilate nations, impose our will and change the course of history. With this might, we are also in a position to be a shining beacon promoting love instead of hate, freedom instead of subjugation and peace instead of war.

“War, an instrument of man’s inhumanity to man, is the result of failed diplomacy.” These words were uttered by another Wolfowitz. One of the highlights of my tenure as chairman of the Department of Mathematics at USF, 1974-84, was the hiring of Jack Wolfowitz, Paul Wolfowitz’s father. Jack was a brilliant mathematician and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. Soon after his arrival at USF, our families became the best of friends, and Jack’s advice guided me through the turbulent years of our department. Our friendship grew to such a degree that Lillian, Paul’s mother, suggested that my wife and I become their adopted family.

On numerous occasions, with my wife’s French cuisine or my mother’s Armenian food as backdrop, we and the Wolfowitzs engaged in discussions that covered many subjects, from etymology, Jack’s favorite, to war and peace. Paraphrasing, Jack would say: “Every problem has a solution if you keep your eyes on the underlying conditions and parameters involved. We mathematicians created numbers and helped solve many of humanity’s physical problems.” Referring to the ongoing conflicts around the globe he would say: “That too has a solution and it is not ‘an eye-for-an-eye’ but rather humanity must promote tolerance, love, peace and respect for one another.”

Through Jack’s wisdom I learned that it is time for humanity to deal with conflict through diplomacy instead of war and smart dialogue around a table rather than smart bombs on the battlefield. We humans are inherently prone to violent behavior. But, we are equally capable of loving and respecting one another no matter what the differences.

Having listened to two mavericks, I chose Jack’s message of peace and tolerance. In this spirit, and to promote peaceful co-existence in the Middle East, members of the USF community through the Honors College and the Department of Mathematics are initiating a program titled: Peace Through Education for a World Without Violence. Our Web site is under construction. We invite all interested parties to join and promote peace in the world.

Manoug Manougian is a professor of mathematics at USF. He co-wrote and produced a PBS documentary series entitled The Genocide Factor — The Human Tragedy.