Dual Loyalties

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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Tufts E-News -- William J. Luti : A Defining Role

Tufts E-News -- A Defining Role: "A Defining Role

The chief of the Pentagon’s office for Middle Eastern policy, Tufts graduate William Luti has earned recognition for playing a key role in Iraq.

Washington D.C. [10-30-03] William J. Luti was a third-level policymaker in the Bush administration, a position which normally receives little political and public recognition. But the Tufts graduate, chief of Middle Eastern policy at the Pentagon, broke the mold – and has risen to become one of the most talked about figures in Washington.

“The day-to-day manager of the Defense Department’s Iraq policy, [William Luti] has the highest profile of anyone to ever hold his post,” reported The Washington Post.

A retired Navy captain, Luti’s military career spanned more than 25 years and incorporated both sea duty and high-level policy positions in Washington. Asked to join the Bush administration in 2000, he took a position working for the Vice President on Middle East policy, and soon retired from the Navy.

Armed with his military background, Luti offered a unique perspective to the policymaking groups he worked with. Lending early support for a military presence in Iraq, Luti earned higher and higher positions as war in Iraq became a major focus within the White House. He is now the deputy undersecretary of defense for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs.

“Luti was an early advocate of military action against Iraq, and, as the Administration moved toward war and policymaking power shifted toward the civilians in the Pentagon, he took on increasingly important responsibilities,” reported the New Yorker.

Luti has been influential in developing Iraq policy both before and during the war. A key member of the Office of Special Plans – an office created last year to work on Iraq strategy – he helped to develop defense policy options and worked to monitor their implementation.

Before joining the Bush administration, Luti had been a key player in Washington for years. Over the last decade, the Tufts graduate had worked under Vice President Richard Cheney, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith.

In his years as a student at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Luti was also a powerhouse – studying strategy and diplomacy.

“He’s a lightning rod,” Richard Shultz – Fletcher professor of international politics and Luti’s thesis advisor – told the Post. “That’s partly because he is so passionate, and partly because he is so devoted to policies that have been divisive.”

While Luti came to Tufts for a master’s degree, “he was such a damned good student that we admitted him to the doctoral program,” Shultz told the Post.

The Tufts graduate has also earned praise from Newt Gingrich, his former employer, who kept in touch with Luti over the years.

“[Luti is] very smart, very aggressive, slightly impatient, and …with a very deep feeling that the world is more dangerous than many of his colleagues in the Pentagon, in the services, understand,” Gingrich told the Post."

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