Sunday, April 08, 2007

Paul Wolfowitz’s Tenure at the World Bank

First, I recommend this New Yorker profile on Paul Wolfowitz and his time at the World Bank to anyone interested in the direction of America’s foreign policy over the past few years. Wolfowitz is clearly a brilliant scholar and intellectually curious in a manner that is striking opposite George W. Bush. Perhaps most interesting is the description of Wolfowitz’s intellectual transition from a registered Democrat to a reserved Neocon who some still accuse of being a liberal, outside of his views on Iraq.

And while I do think there is some good in asserting more accountability over lending practices to corrupt regimes, specifically in the case of withholding loans to Uzbekistan, it appears that Wolfowitz is arbitrarily pushing the Bank’s policies toward his own political agenda.

However, current and former World Bank officials, as well as a number of bank shareholders, have questioned Wolfowitz’s actions. Why were projects being suspended in India and not in Indonesia, which by many measures is more corrupt? Why Uzbekistan and not Tajikistan? Why Congo-Brazzaville and not the Democratic Republic of the Congo? “No one in the development community really understands what criteria we should use to withhold lending from poor countries,”

The most conspicuous example may be the inexplicable increase in aid to Iraq, with one of the highest corruption ratings of any country in the world, while advocating at times that the Bank cut off funds to India because of corruption charges. Does anyone want to make an argument that this has nothing to do with Wolfowitz’s proclamation to Congress in February 2003 that, “I am reasonably certain that they will greet us as liberators?”

Critics inside the bank point out that Cleveland, Folsom, Kellems, and Jackson remain in place, and that many of Wolfowitz’s appointments are people from countries that have actively or tacitly supported the Iraq war.

And of course, it wouldn’t make for an article about the policies of the Bush administration if it didn’t include a section on a Mitch McConnell crony:

Wolfowitz hired two American political operatives who were closely associated with the war in Iraq: Robin Cleveland…and Kevin Kellems, who had been with Wolfowitz at the Pentagon. Perhaps inevitably, Cleveland and Kellems antagonized many on the bank’s staff. “Their attitude was: We are brighter than other people, we know more than other people,” a bank veteran who recently left told me. “They were unaccountable because they had no direct-line authority. Officially, they were just advisers to the president, but in fact they were calling the shots.”

Cleveland, in particular, incited hostility. On Capitol Hill, where she had worked for Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, she was known as “the dragon lady,” because of her aggressive approach to negotiations.


At 9:23 AM, Blogger Paddy said...

Wolfowitz at the World Bank was a disaster waiting to happen.

At 8:32 PM, Blogger GottaLaff said...

Try saying "Wolfowitz at the World Bank" 3 times really fast. That might help take your mind of how awful he is.


Post a Comment

<< Home