Skip to comments.Wolfowitz had it right
Posted on 05/20/2007 5:43:18 AM PDT by knighthawk
In the end, it was hoping for too much to imagine that Paul Wolfowitz would get a fair shake at the World Bank. For better or worse, the former U.S. deputy secretary of defence and "architect" of the Iraq war is one of the world's most widely loathed individuals outside the Fifty States. It should have been apparent to the Bush administration that such a polarizing appointee would be savaged by the forces of European institutional inertia and featherbedding upon the slightest pretext. But we would hate for anyone to hear us defending Mr. Wolfowitz and say, "There goes the Post again, sticking up for one of its pet neoconservatives," so let's make it clear: the future of his agenda for international aid is much, much more important than his personal fate.
It's not a coincidence that the people who have been most strenuous in their praise of Mr. Wolfowitz after his Thursday resignation are government officials and human-rights workers in sub-Saharan Africa. He came to the job declaring that Africa was at the top of his priority list, that he would no longer tolerate the abuse of connections between kleptocratic dictators and World Bank representatives, and that aid should be contingent on hard, verifiable measures of progress in fighting corruption and achieving democracy. He has been accused of suspending aid to bad governments without consulting his board and, in general, adopting a cloistered, crony-reliant style of leadership, but clearly the fault lies as least as much on the other side. One official -- speaking anonymously to The Washington Post, and apparently thinking that the tale would reflect poorly on Mr. Wolfowitz -- recalls how the president bawled out senior employees on the Africa desk when they proved helpless to produce data on whether mass distribution of anti-malarial bed nets funded by the bank had done anything to limit the disease.
The debate over the "scandal" that felled Mr. Wolfowitz is bound to pass from the hands of journalists into those of historians without ever being finally settled. A subcommittee of the bank's board ruled that he had acted unethically in arranging for a pay raise for his girlfriend, Shaha Ali Riza, who had been at the bank before his appointment and had to be seconded to the U.S. State Department in order to comply with bank guidelines on romantic relationships between employees. But the chain of events is ambivalent enough that both Mr. Wolfowitz's supporters and his enemies were eager to circulate the report in public after it was issued to the full board.
Owing to the bank's quirky rules, Mr. Wolfowitz would never have been forced to find a new posting for Ms. Riza in the first place if he had happened to be married to her. The subcommittee report acknowledged that he tried to avoid getting involved in the disposition of the matter, and even Mr. Wolfowitz's opponents agree that Ms. Riza was entitled to some compensation for having to uproot her career. It is also worth noting that the board, upon receiving his resignation, officially ruled that Mr. Wolfowitz "acted ethically and in good faith in what he believed were the best interests of the institution." Unfortunately, that's not how casual headline browsers will remember the story.
And if the reports are true that the Canadian government turned against Mr. Wolfowitz in the final days of his presidency, so much the worse for the Canadian government. Our own representatives shouldbe prepared to insist upon the appointment of a successor who shares Mr. Wolfowitz's dedication to cleaning up the bank's aid operations and moving the institution toward a 21st-century ethos of accountability.
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President Bush should appoint John Bolton to replace Wolfowitz.
Wolfy is for throwing even more money down the foreign aid sinkhole. Good riddance. Now....let’s get rid of the World Bank, which this guy actually wanted to expand.
Although Ive been reading about this affair for the past several weeks, I am totally confused on a key point. Would someone please take pity on me and set me straight?
Rizas transfer to State: Was she actually given a State Department post, so that she no longer worked for the World Bank, or was she trasferred, as a WB employee, to work at the State Department in some kind of liaison role?
If the former, then why was she kept on the WB payroll? That is not a rhetorical question if she was indeed kept on their payroll, how did Wolfowitz justify it at the time?
If, in fact, Wolfowitz was able to swing her a new job, in a new organization, and her huge salary came from the State Department coffers, then why would anyone at WB give a darn about it?
Does anyone else get the feeling that we're rapidly heading down the slope to some monumental global tax and aid scams?
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