Skip to comments.Wolfowitz affair sparks rift in Bush team [Pop Quiz]
Posted on 05/16/2007 3:35:23 PM PDT by Sleeping Beauty
For the past few weeks the Bush administration has been bitterly divided over the best way to respond to growing calls for Paul Wolfowitzs resignation as World Bank president, according to people who have attended the White House meetings.
On Tuesday, Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, signalled an apparent change in the White Houses previously firm backing for Mr Wolfowitz when he said all options are on the table. But according to the White House insiders, one of those options still included Mr Wolfowitz staying on. The Bush administration is divided into three camps, which have very rarely seen eye to eye.
ADVERTISEMENT The first, which has been led by Hank Paulson, the US Treasury secretary, and two or three like-minded individuals in the White House, has consistently argued that Mr Wolfowitzs continued tenure at the bank would impose a mounting cost on American interests and on Washingtons ability to set the agenda at the World Bank. It might also endanger Americas continued right to nominate the head of the World Bank (Europe has an equivalent right for the International Monetary Fund), they argued.
The second, which has been led by Dick Cheney, the vice-president, and Karl Rove, who is Mr Bushs senior strategist, say the president should remain loyal to Mr Wolfowitz in the teeth of what they see as a European campaign to take revenge for the World Bank presidents pivotal role in pushing for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. They have scant interest in the health of multilateral institutions like the World Bank, said the insider.
And the third camp, which includes a number of mid-level operatives in the White House who were described as non-ideological conservatives, as well as at times Josh Bolten, the White House chief of staff, believe the longer the crisis continues the more it damages the US president. They are now arguing for Mr Wolfowitzs departure. Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, has recently added her voice to theirs.
There has been a food fight in the White House over Wolfowitz during the last four weeks and nobody really prevailed, said the insider. Whenever we felt that we were beginning to convince the president that it was not in Americas interests to keep delaying the inevitable [departure of Mr Wolfowitz] then somebody like Karl [Rove] or the vice-president would intervene and it would be back to square one.
Those pushing within the administration for an earlier resolution of the World Bank crisis say they have been hamstrung by the instinctive loyalty both Mr Bush and Mr Cheney feel towards Mr Wolfowitz. They say they argued that the longer the administration left Mr Wolfowitz in place, the less leverage the US would have with its increasingly frustrated European partners to ensure a smooth transition for whoever would replace him.
But Mr Wolfowitz was able to rally allies both within the administration and outside it to come to his aid. Paul has repeatedly called upon his neocon friends in the administration, the media and the think-tanks to come to his support, said another insider. There has been complete internal dysfunction as a result.
The situation has been complicated by the fact that few people within the Bush administration understand what the World Bank does, says another official. This has meant that the administrations shifting calculations have been mostly guided by day-to-day political deliberations rather than by an assessment of what would be in the longer-term interest of the US.
Not many people care about the multilateral institutions or have a view one way or another, said an official. At no point has the administration sat down and said: What do we think about the World Bank? How does it conflate with American interests?
Some in the first camp fear that the US has now left it too late to retain the degree of goodwill it would need to ensure that Mr Wolfowitzs [American] successor could help frame a positive agenda. The longer the White House has delayed the inevitable the weaker its hand has become, said one. From a strategic point of view we could not have played this any worse.
Sorry guys — there seems to be an intellectual flaw in this thread.
Tomorrow, when reality catches up with attitude — the smart folks can continue this discussion on a different thread.
Actually, FT is pretty liberal (similarly to WSJ, which was found to have the most left-leaning “news” bias of all major print media, unlike her editorial content), both in news and editorial content, except for several columnists like Emity Shlaes and Paul Johnson (both of them have written excellent books).
“....and why it [the World Bank] is so important to our US economy and US-based multinational corporations?”
Think of UN’s Oil For Food Fraud - a lot of corporations couldn’t legally or “legitimately” do business with Saddam, without UN OFF programme cover. WB is even better than UN as it provides not only cover of legitimacy, but it practically guarantees profit because any potential losses are underwritten by US taxpayers.