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Across seven administrations they have shared a belief in the importance of American military power. Today, they are President Bush's war cabinet. Here's an overview of their intertwined relationships over the decades, their conflicts, and the events that have shaped their views on America's role in the world. [This historical chart is drawn in large part from James Mann's book, Rise of the Vulcans (2004), a history of the lives, ideas and careers of Bush's war cabinet.]


THE clinton ADMINISTRATION, 1993-2001

With Bill Clinton in the White House -- ending 12 years of Republican dominance -- many of George W. Bush's future foreign policy advisers leave government. Cheney and Armitage head for the private sector. Wolfowitz and Rice return to academia, although both make sure their voices are heard in Washington. But two others are still in power: Powell, as Chair of the Joint Chiefs and a favorite of the media, and Rumsfeld, who suddenly has made a comeback after years in private business.


Donald Rumsfeld

Dick Cheney

Paul Wolfowitz

Colin Powell

Richard Armitage

Condoleezza Rice

Clinton inaugurated



Wolfowitz and other neo-cons are already starting to work against the new president's Iraq policy, arguing that it will be ineffective and that WMD in the Middle East -- a topic Wolfowitz has been thinking about since his academic days -- are a serious threat.

· Clinton's strategy >



The Debate over Bosnia



Another part of the world has grabbed Wolfowitz's attention: Bosnia. Some neo-cons argue for a U.S.-led invasion to stop what seems like the beginning of a genocide. Wolfowitz advocates arming Bosnian Muslims and complains that the U.S. has taken no effective action.

A Bosnian intervention would not be easy -- politically or for the military, who would have to cross rough terrain -- and the U.S. has no economic interests in the Balkans. Powell publicly argues that the U.S. should stay out of the conflict.



Republican revolutions

What looked like a bleak future for conservatives has been reversed by Newt Gingrich and his "Republican Revolution" in Congress. Rumsfeld has had a personal renaissance of his own; he is back in politics, running Sen. Bob Dole's campaign for president. On the trail, he meets a sharp foreign policy expert who is also advising Dole: Wolfowitz.

The powerful Republican Congress has set up a "policy advisory board," a clearinghouse of former Republican administration officials who want to work with Congressmen on policy decisions. Cheney, though no longer in the House, still has his connections and is a leading member, along with Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. One key Republican is not invited to be on the board: Powell.

Wolfowitz has a busy year: teaching at Johns Hopkins, advising Sen. Bob Dole with Rumsfeld, and keeping tabs on Hussein, who has just attacked the Kurds in Northern Iraq. Chalabi, who has now known his ally Wolfowitz for years, begins to push hard for Hussein's removal.

· The INC's PR campaign >




Early 1998:
Arguing for new American policy

Rumsfeld, aligned with the neo-cons, signs an open letter to Clinton arguing that the U.S. must remove Hussein. At Gingrich's invitation, he also chairs a Congressional commission on the ballistic missile threat. His study concludes that Clinton has underestimated the threat and warns of warheads laced with biological or chemical weapons.

· The open letter >


With Wolfowitz as one of their leaders, the neo-cons go public with their letter to Clinton. The INC's profile is increasingly public, too: Chalabi meets with Congressmen and generals. Clinton signs the overwhelmingly popular Iraq Liberation Act, stating for the first time the U.S. wants to oust Saddam and establish democracy in Iraq.

· The INC has a plan >


Armitage is running an international consulting firm he founded shortly after leaving Washington in 1993. He maintains his friendship with Powell. But, feeling that Hussein should be removed, he signs the Project for a New American Century letter associated with Wolfowitz.


Bush begins his run

Rumsfeld, along with Wolfowitz and prominent neo-con Richard Perle, signs another letter to Clinton agitating for a more aggressive policy in the Middle East, specifically in Iraq. Rumsfeld is also advising George W. Bush, who has started to organize a presidential campaign.


George W. Bush is looking for foreign policy advisers. His father's Secretary of Defense, Cheney, suggests his old number three staffer at the Pentagon -- Wolfowitz, who already has experience working on the Dole campaign and knows most of the major players who will eventually constitute Bush's team.

Powell is concentrating on his charity, America's Promise. There is constant speculation as to whether or not he will run for president or even vice president under Bush. He is not invited to Bush's early, informal foreign policy briefings.

Armitage, along with Wolfowitz and Rice, is one of the first three people brought in to advise Bush. He helps to expand the team, and eventually a wide-ranging group, corralled by the original three, is providing Bush with guidance by conference call.

Rice is recommended to Bush by her mentor, former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft. She bonds with Bush at his ranch over sports talk and eventually becomes the head of the foreign policy team.

· The peacemaker >

Late 1998:
Desert Fox, Bay of Goats



After U.N. weapons inspectors leave Iraq, America and Britain launch four days of air strikes against Iraq. CENTCOM commander Anthony Zinni reports that Hussein is almost toppled by the attack. That isn't enough for Wolfowitz, who pushes for all-out regime change immediately. Zinni, to say the least, does not agree.

· Wolfowitz vs. Zinni >




Bush's backers

Rumsfeld serves on another commission, this time focusing on space. Wheels are already turning at the Pentagon that will define his first few months there: A new report, Joint Vision 20/20, is released in June, outlining transformation initiatives that Rumsfeld will come to back as Bush's Secretary of Defense.

The speculation that Powell will be Bush's vice-presidential pick is silenced as Bush chooses Cheney -- his father's defense guru and a close ally of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz -- to be his right-hand man. Cheney, with years of public service behind him, balances the relatively inexperienced presidential candidate.

Many neo-cons support Bush's rival, John McCain -- Bush has not been very clear on his intent to remove Saddam, and McCain argued forcefully earlier for intervention in Bosnia. But Wolfowitz has been influential in shaping Bush's policies and remains loyal to him.

Powell reveals in a speech at the GOP convention that he and Bush have major ideological differences, but he nonetheless becomes the face of Bush's "compassionate conservatism," broadening the candidate's appeal.

· Bush's best man >




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posted oct. 26, 2004

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