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A Victory for the Culture of Corruption

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I'm not going to shed any tears for Paul Wolfowitz. He was a smart guy with a lot of ideas, some good and some bad. But he was a neocon and an imperialist and responsible for some very questionable policy decisions during his time in the White House.

Like many of the neocons he had a lot to offer if you could just overlook his interest in taking over the world. But that's a pretty hard hurdle for some of us to overcome. Unfortunately, not caring much about Wolfowitz doesn't do much to lessen my dismay at the recent goings-on at the World Bank.

With the resignation of Wolfowitz from the World Bank we see a perfect example of the triumphant power of institutional bureaucracy in the form of a moneysucking, self-perpetuating, international organization which appears to be answerable to no one and convinced that they are above the law. What's worse, they seem to wallow in petty self-advancement, and profit by spending the money they receive from nations like the United States to expand their culture of corruption and contaminate the rest of the world.

The World Bank is a bloated bureaucracy with a budget of almost 30 billion dollars, 10,000 employees and an increasingly poor record of delivering on its mandate to reduce world poverty and help disadvantaged nations modernize. One of the largest problems is that allocation of aid from the bank has involved a great deal of input from client countries with minimal accountability to the countries providing funding for the bank, and decisions left up to high-handed bureaucratic mandarins who are answerable to no one. A great deal of money is spent very poorly and ends up in the pockets of corrupt regimes with little progress to show for all the spending. It has increasingly come to function as an wealth redistribution scheme which produces minimal positive results. Wolfowitz was expected to change the way the bank worked and tie aid from the bank to democratic reform and signs of fiscal responsibility in the client countries. This may just seem like common sense to most of us, but to those with a vested interest in the corruption promoted by the current system it was an unendurable threat, and they struck back with everything they had.

That the World Bank was corrupt and inefficient and existing primarily to serve the interests of its established clique of bureaucrats was a well established fact. Wolfowitz was appointed head of the Bank to clean house, root out corruption, and implement much-needed reforms. To the surprise and distress of most of those involved, he took that agenda to heart and seemed bent on actually putting an end to the corruption and neglect which riddled the bank. This didn't sit well with the bureaucrats who found their overpaid jobs and their substantial graft threatened.

Their reaction was to do everything in their power to bring Wolfowitz down. It was a rebellion of the bureaucrats against the reformers and the bureaucrats won. The World Bank has a long history of corruption, particularly characterized by reprisals by the institution and its leaders against whistleblowers and would-be reformers. Wolfowitz became the latest victim of the self-defense reaction of a coterie of corrupt bureaucrats who ironically used anonymous accusations of wrongdoing to try to tar Wolfowitz with the brush of the corruption which they themselves practice.

The events have now been pretty well established. Wolfowitz was appointed by the U.S. to the World Bank with the mandate to try to clean the place up. His girlfriend already worked there, so knowing there was a potential conflict of interest he went to the ethics committee and the board and asked them what he should do. They advised him to find her another job and settle a compensation package on her appropriate to make up for having to lose her position with the organization. Wolfowitz did exactly as they suggested and then got to work, preparing to fire corrupt employees, reform the Bank's questionable lending practices and discipline a body of bureaucrats who had been running pretty much out of control.

The bureaucrats didn't like this at all. They complained to the board. They leaked versions of the story which suggested that Wolfowitz had behaved improperly. They even began wearing blue ribbons to show their solidarity in opposition to Wolfowitz and his campaign of reforms. The accusations of impropriety ranged from the subjective to the bizarre.

Many of the accusations centered around what were basically policy decisions where Wolfowitz wanted to change bank policy to reflect a more conservative agenda, cutting wasteful pet projects, imposing stricter lending policies, reducing funds for Third World birth control projects and changing the wording of documents on global warming. These actions were generally not improper for the head of the organization, but were seen as threatening by bureaucrats with a vested interest in existing policies. Mostly it seems that World Bank employees didn't like Wolfowitz's background, his involvement in the Iraq War and his desire to implement reforms and policies they didn't agree with. The accusations suggested corruption, but were more in the nature of policy disagreements.

The only substantive charge was the one involving the removal of his girlfriend, Shaha Riza from the World Bank staff. Riza had worked there for eight years and was a very successful and outspoken advocate for womens rights reform in the Middle East. The solution to the potential conflict of interest when Wolfowitz came to the bank was to move Riza to the State Department where she could continue to work on projects she was involved with.

The problem was that her salary was still going to be paid by the World Bank, and as part of the arrangement, that salary was substantially increased to compensate her for the inconvenience of the situation and to make sure that she wouldn't sue the bank. All of this was done at the suggestion of the World Bank ethics committee and ultimately the complaint boiled down to their conclusion that the amount which she was compensated was more than they had expected and out of line with the normal pay structure of the bank. This is a legitimate but mostly technical complaint, but clearly one which could have been handled internally and was hardly a serious breach of ethics. It basically comes down to the opinion that Wolfowitz should have delegated someone else to sign off on the amount of her compensation.

The real problem for Wolfowitz was the aura of scandal created by the flood of anonymous accusations from within the bank. Although they had very little substance to them, the furor which they stirred up in the press was bad for the public image of the bank and reduced Wolfowitz's ability to do his job effectively. It became clear that the storm of opposition from within the bank would cost more than the board was willing to pay since they didn't have much affection for Wolfowitz either.

Wolfowitz has described the entire scandal as "bogus", and the ultimate resolution demonstrates that he was right. Once he had agreed to resign at the end of June, the board admitted both that he had done nothing wrong and that there were no meaningful causes for action against him, and that even in the case of the compensation for Shaha Riza, multiple other World Bank personnel had reviewed and approved the amount given. So Wolfowitz did nothing wrong, but nonetheless he's out on his ass and there's no punishment or accountability for the anonymous bureaucrats who launched the campaign of smears and whispers which brought him down.

President Bush is going to make every effort to replace Wolfowitz with another American who will continue to pursue an anti-corruption, reform agenda at the World Bank, but there is substantial international opposition, and the international left has candidates waiting in the wings, who fit the typical model of socialist stooges willing to tolerate corruption if it allows them to pursue their anti-American, anti-capitalist agenda.

There's a bigger problem here than just the corruption at the World Bank and the victimization of Paul Wolfowitz. More importantly, this struggle is a clear reminder that we're in a war which is as serious as the War on Terror, and it looks like we've suffered a major defeat at the World Bank. It's a war between the proponents of responsible and representative government and a bureaucratized worldwide culture of socialism and corruption which has grown out of control. The power and influence of these institutions is growing and they are forming alliances with the most dangerous groups and nations around the world – alliances which enable their corruption and provide them with the support they need to gain increasing autonomy.

We underwrite groups like the World Bank, but increasingly we have less and less say in what they do and how they spend our money. What is very clear is that their objectives are incompatible with our welfare as a nation and the best interests of free people world wide. Paul Wolfowitz was sent to the World Bank to represent our interests, but he failed; and his failure will make the enemies of freedom stronger. It's a failure for which we'll pay a serious price in the future.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Zedd

    Dave

    We have the greatest say at the World Bank, lets put the violins away AGAIN Dave. No need for verbal theatrics.

    Wolf came in saying that he was going to clean the place up and walked in with his own corruption. He offended some well intentioned individuals with his “we are America, move out of the way” stance and they were offended. He missed the fact that there is a great deal of America fatigue all over the world and this wasn’t the time for grand standing. He also missed the fact that he had goofed with the war and was not coming in as a respected international tactician. His cocky attitude was an insult, as it should have been. A failed operative coming in saying he was going to fix everything that they had been doing was ridiculous, unconsidered and reckless to say the very least.

    What is confusing to me is why the administration did not anticipate that reaction from the world body? It only speaks to their ignorance an disrespect for the international community.

    What is more significant is that our image as a nation was even more severely affected by first, the choice to put him in there (see above) and secondly his cocky attitude which we need to desperately distance ourselves from at this time in our history and lastly his hypocrisy, which adds to the new status of lying bumbler that we have attained since this administration took office.

    The push for efficiency at the World Bank has greater support outside of the US. We have ignored cries about the ineffectiveness of WB for generations. Blazing in after screwing everything up internationally, including massaging the German Chancellor shoulders (hee hee) smacked as an attempt to recover this presidents reputation. That sort of thing works in corporate America where massive white elephants are part of the landscape and emperors streak as a rule, however in a setting where you are not an employer, such mistakes are dealt with.

    What you mistake for Bush’s vigilance in changing the WB is actually a bossing around of the world just as we have attempted to do since Bush Sr at the UN.

    This administration and many on the right have a naive understanding of what it takes to run a huge organization that includes various entities from different cultures and political interests. The right believes that everything can be fixed with applying a business model to such entities. It is that very mis-assessment that IS the problem. Bureaucracies are not bad in themselves. They are what they are because of necessity. In order to appease a variety of mixed and COMPLICATED interests safeguards and legal renderings must be in place to insure functionality. The naivety comes in thinking that things SHOULD be easier, while making ones own demands on the institution and creating a larger bureaucracy in doing so.

  • Lumpy

    Obviously our ‘say’ isn’t that great if wolfowitz could get railroaded like this. IMO this article doesn’t go far enough in stressing how completely meritless the accusations were.

    Wolfowitz didn’t bring in his own corruption as u suggest. He went out of his way to avoid impropriety and still got slammed with vicious and comletely bogus accusations. It was a pure smear campaign like something out of the mccarthyism era.

  • Nancy

    All things considered, I have to agree far more with Zedd than Dave: Wolf did indeed arrive at the WB trialing his own miasma of BushCo corruption, complete with his own miasma of the usual underhanded BushCo secret agenda(s). Handling his girlfriend’s case himself was too stupid, even for a lawyer in this town, which is exactly where he got screwed: he IS a lawyer, he HAS been in international affairs (literally as well as figuratively), he’s seen many a scandal & should be well aware of how fragile things like that are – but he still went ahead & handled it himself. Stupid, stupid, stupid, abysmally stupid. He set himself up & basically walked into the bureaucratic trap, like a typical arrogant neocon Bushie. The Crats must have been beside themselves with disbelieving joy. The halfwit not only provides his own rope, he provides his own wood & builds the scaffold into the bargain.

    As Dave says, no tears shed for Wolfie: good riddance to bad neocon rubbish. Another one bites the dust.

    Let’s hope the ultimate arrogant halfwit in the WH uses what few brains he has this time around & appoints someone more suited & cleaner to the job, rather than try to pay off some of his political debt on ol’ buddies who need a high-paying, high-profile cushy position somewhere. Simony, thy name is Bush.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    We have the greatest say at the World Bank, lets put the violins away AGAIN Dave. No need for verbal theatrics.

    How so, Zing? We provide 16% of the funding, more than any other nation, yet the board is dominated by Europeans and the staff comes mostly from Europe and the third world.

    Wolf came in saying that he was going to clean the place up and walked in with his own corruption.

    What corruption? Having a girlfriend and appropriately separating himself from her is NOT corruption. You’re spewing propaganda that has no merit at all.

    He offended some well intentioned individuals with his “we are America, move out of the way” stance and they were offended.

    They were offended because he came in and told them he was going to take their sticky fingers out of the cookie jar to be more accurate.

    He missed the fact that there is a great deal of America fatigue all over the world and this wasn’t the time for grand standing.

    The world isn’t entitled to ‘america fatigue’. It’s time for us to stop putting up with that sort of shit from the culture of corruption.

    He also missed the fact that he had goofed with the war and was not coming in as a respected international tactician. His cocky attitude was an insult, as it should have been. A failed operative coming in saying he was going to fix everything that they had been doing was ridiculous, unconsidered and reckless to say the very least.

    As far as I can tell he was just trying to do his job. He wasn’t singlehandedly responsible for the problems in Iraq, and he did see a genuine problem at the WB and proposed to fix it. That’s laudable, not offensive – unless you’re a corrupt WB bureaucrat.

    What is confusing to me is why the administration did not anticipate that reaction from the world body? It only speaks to their ignorance an disrespect for the international community.

    I’m sure they expected resistence, but I doubt they were prepared for the lengths the bank and its supporters were willing to go to in order to protect their corrupt practices. I imagine they also expected some backing from other countries, not realizing that the europeans have been turning a blind eye to this corruption for years.

    What is more significant is that our image as a nation was even more severely affected by first, the choice to put him in there (see above) and secondly his cocky attitude which we need to desperately distance ourselves from at this time in our history and lastly his hypocrisy, which adds to the new status of lying bumbler that we have attained since this administration took office.

    That’s just crap, Zing. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Wolfowitz was trying to do the right thing and got outmaneuvered by a bunch of vicious,, corrupt scumbags. Nothing else is relevant here.

    The push for efficiency at the World Bank has greater support outside of the US. We have ignored cries about the ineffectiveness of WB for generations. Blazing in after screwing everything up internationally, including massaging the German Chancellor shoulders (hee hee) smacked as an attempt to recover this presidents reputation.

    So to prevent Bush’s reputation from being repaired it’s a good idea to let the corrupt bastards at the WB get away with blocking reform? That just makes no sense at all.

    What you mistake for Bush’s vigilance in changing the WB is actually a bossing around of the world just as we have attempted to do since Bush Sr at the UN.

    The mistake you make here is not realizing that these international groups have been allowed to get away with far too much for too long, and even if Bush is coming in a bit late in dealing with them, they need to be put in their place and massive reform is essential.

    This administration and many on the right have a naive understanding of what it takes to run a huge organization that includes various entities from different cultures and political interests.

    Apparently it takes massive corruption.

    The right believes that everything can be fixed with applying a business model to such entities.

    Pure ignorance. Wolfowitz isn’t part of that part of the political right. Except for his belief in a more aggressive foreign policy he’s basically a liberal intellectual and he’s a government solution fan, not a business advocate. He’s a think tanker, not a free marketer.

    It is that very mis-assessment that IS the problem. Bureaucracies are not bad in themselves. They are what they are because of necessity. In order to appease a variety of mixed and COMPLICATED interests safeguards and legal renderings must be in place to insure functionality. The naivety comes in thinking that things SHOULD be easier, while making ones own demands on the institution and creating a larger bureaucracy in doing so.

    But none of this is what Wolfowitz tried to change. All he tried to do was introduce some accountability and make the bureaucrats use more sensible criteria for allocating financial resources. He didn’t go after the bureaucrats or the institution, he went after the sources of the corruption and THAT is what triggered a massive attack on him.

    Dave

  • zingzing

    dave: “How so, Zing?”

    eh? all us “z” people look alike to you? you z-hater! fuck you and the anti-z bitch you rode in on!

    i don’t like the world bank. so i have nothing to say.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    C’mon, zing.

    You have to admit all “Zs” are crooked…:>)

  • zingzing

    see, that’s the problem with people calling me “zing.” it’s ZINGZING. that way it is much longer and sillier than “zedd.”

  • Jerry

    Sorry about this love/hate thing Dave.
    You do wax eloquent and brilliant at times.

  • Nancy

    Mea culpa, Zing. T’was I shortened your nomen by a syllable, ’cause I’m lazy & also ’cause you remind me somehow of Red Zinger herbal tea.

  • zingzing

    why? because i’m like that sharp bit o tartness that lingers in the back of your throat, sometimes for hours until you make a strange “ack” sound and hock up a little bit of lung butter?

  • Lumpy

    All I have to say on the name issue is…

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    oops it bored me and I drifted off…

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Nancy

    couldn’t tell, Lump: it isn’t any different from your usual state or comments, no?

    very – ah, uh – vivid description, Zing. Telling, certainly. ;)

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Dave, I think you may be overstating Wolfowitz’s snow-white purity vis a vis his anti-corruption measures. It’s also very possible that a different candidate, without the baggage of Iraq and Wolfie’s apparently autocratic, abrasive, don’t-argue-with-me style, could have succeeded in an anti-corruption campaign where the unpleasant Mr W failed. [He stepped on a lot of toes at the Pentagon too.]

    But taking the Wall St Journal’s editorial page line [as, of course, you so often do], making Wolfie out to be purely a victim while everyone else at the bank is utterly corrupt, is just a polemical stance, conveniently ignoring the shades of gray in Paul W and in the World Bank.

    And it seems that Shaha Riza herself demanded the terms in her new pay package. She was moved to the State Department with a salary higher than the Secretary of State! Which some of us do find a bit over the top. Whether it merits firing Wolf-man is a different matter.

    I do have to admit that it’s fun to watch any Bushie squirm. And yet Bush gets to name the replacement anyway.

  • Nancy

    Frankly, with the long line of personnel failures he’s promoted thus far, HE should be the one fired. I can’t remember any prez who had so many appointees removed, replaced, or resigned since Nixon’s gang – can anyone else? Talk about total lack of good character judgement.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Dave, I think you may be overstating Wolfowitz’s snow-white purity vis a vis his anti-corruption measures.

    I have yet to see any credible evidence that Wolfowitz was corrupt in any way. The whole business with Shaha Riza was ridiculously contrived.

    It’s also very possible that a different candidate, without the baggage of Iraq and Wolfie’s apparently autocratic, abrasive, don’t-argue-with-me style, could have succeeded in an anti-corruption campaign where the unpleasant Mr W failed. [He stepped on a lot of toes at the Pentagon too.]

    I think there was a hell of a lot more going on here than just management style. He clearly was a threat to institutionalized corruption and lost his battle with it.

    But taking the Wall St Journal’s editorial page line [as, of course, you so often do],

    Which is amusing since I never even read it unless I go looking for something online and stumble on it.

    making Wolfie out to be purely a victim while everyone else at the bank is utterly corrupt, is just a polemical stance, conveniently ignoring the shades of gray in Paul W and in the World Bank.

    I don’t think Wolfowitz is corrupt at all. He has LOTS of other faults as I mention in the article, but that’s not one of them. The World Bank on the other hand is a cesspool.

    And it seems that Shaha Riza herself demanded the terms in her new pay package. She was moved to the State Department with a salary higher than the Secretary of State! Which some of us do find a bit over the top. Whether it merits firing Wolf-man is a different matter.

    I linked to a couple of articles about that. From what I understand she’s pretty hard and abrasive herself. One article suggested that she might have sued the WB if the job move cost her financially or professionally. Personally I don’t see why she needed to be removed from the WB at all. I think it was an overreaction.

    I do have to admit that it’s fun to watch any Bushie squirm. And yet Bush gets to name the replacement anyway.

    I’m pushing for Bolton.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    I can’t remember any prez who had so many appointees removed, replaced, or resigned since Nixon’s gang – can anyone else? Talk about total lack of good character judgement.

    Actually, if you look at the record I believe you’ll find that Bush has an unusually low number of resignations and firings per term compared to almost any other president, especially Reagan and Clinton.

    Dave

  • Dr Dreadful

    if you look at the record I believe you’ll find that Bush has an unusually low number of resignations and firings per term

    Because unlike many of his predecessors, when he says he stands by his embattled appointees he seems to actually mean it a lot of the time. Under any other president, Gonzales would have been long gone and Rumsfeld would not have lasted nearly as long as he did.

  • Nancy

    I don’t think so, if you count in people like Myers & the guy who left the WH in handcuffs (can’t remember his name, begins w/an “S”). Maybe it’s just me, but it seems to me they’ve dropped at a fairly high rate, starting with his first term & the half dozen or so that got the boot back then.

  • Dr Dreadful

    the guy who left the WH in handcuffs

    That would have been “Scooter” Libby, bless his little cotton socks. And the whole Meiers [spelling?] thing was just farcical – I’m not sure Bush even knew himself what he was thinking.*

    But those have been anomalies. The fact is that the guy is stubborner than a Terminator in a garbage truck and absolutely will not fire anyone he appoints even when it’s clearly in his best interest to do so.

    Heck, he’ll probably refuse to leave the White House himself when the time comes around.

    *Obvious set-up alert for “does he ever?”

  • Zedd

    Dave

    ZEDD here…..

    On Riza, it was the British press that pushed for his or her removal from the WB. He had broken policy about having relationships with employees of the WB. After she was moved to a position where she wouldn’t be under his direct supervision, he pushed for her to be conpensated by $180K through ensureing a position for her.

    I am not sure what you think corruption is. That is what it looks like. Its not having chests of gold under your chair in the board room. Corruption is as simple as that. Its that simple in those countries that you think are misusing the funds of the WB. Much of it simply comes in the form of nepotism.

    On your response to poor Zing (hee hee) you said that

    Wolfowitz isn’t part of that part of the political right.

    Wolf is a rep of this administration.

    It seems to be lost on you that international engagement requires a great deal of diplomacy. Storming around like a 7th grader proclaiming what SHOULD be and going against universal law of human engagement is useless. There is standard protocol. If you don’t have the wit to get what you need accomplished within the rules of that protocol then you are not qualified Dave. THAT is the point.

    This administration should have known that they were not playing the chess game to our advantage. Dipolomatically and strategically Wolfy was wrong. Its immature to throw a tantrum about right is right, especially regarding this administration AND Wolfowitz.

  • Lumpy

    Nancy. Do you remember the Reagan administration? They had to put in a slide at the white house people were leaving in disgrace so much.

  • Alec

    Dave – re: Actually, if you look at the record I believe you’ll find that Bush has an unusually low number of resignations and firings per term compared to almost any other president, especially Reagan and Clinton.

    This may be true, but is, again, not really the point. Bush has a higher level of crony and incompetent appointments than any other president in the modern era. Perversely, this appeals to some small-government conservatives and libertarians, who are so against the idea of government that it actually pleases them when taxpayer money is wasted on appointees like Brown of FEMA and the politicized US Attorney corps, or the current head of Immigration, among others.

    On Wolfowitz. There is an excellent profile of Wolfowitz by John Cassidy in the April 9 edition of the New Yorker (which may also be available online) that confirms some of your views, but contradicts others.

    One of Wolfowitz’s key problems was that he was an inept and undiplomatic administrator. Yes, the World Bank is a huge bureaucracy, infused with petty infighting endemic to such organizations, but Wolfowitz had neither the skill nor the temperament to effectively operate within such an environment. Even some of his staunchest defenders noted that he had little experience as an executive.

    As a result, he appointed as key aides a number of people with connections to the Bush Administration, which was a strategic mistake which only raised the hackles of those who looked for an excuse to brand Wolfowitz as a Bush loyalty with seeking to undermine the World Bank’s independence. Most of these appointees, such as Suzanne Rich Folsom, were not especially qualified, and like Wolfowitz, lacked deft people skills. Worst of all, Wolfowitz had a knack for alienating World Bank veterans who might have been allies.

    As for the World Bank’s alleged corruption, even though the New Yorker profile tried to downplay it, the main problem of the bank appears to be a kind of defective idealism. They willfully ignore corruption because they seem to feel that some money must get to oppressed people despite any corruption in the government of recipient nations. However, in reading this profile and other reports, I didn’t get a sense that either Wolfowitz nor any World Bank veterans had any clue on how to develop mechanisms to monitor the effectiveness of World Bank programs or to devise alternatives that would effectively pressure corrupt governments into allowing aid to get to its intended recipients.

  • Lumpy

    “, I didn’t get a sense that either Wolfowitz nor any World Bank veterans had any clue on how to develop mechanisms to monitor the effectiveness of World Bank programs or to devise alternatives that would effectively pressure corrupt governments into allowing aid to get to its intended recipients. ”

    ah. But they were at least interested in trying to figure out solutions which prior administrators, the board and the 10000 bureaucrats had no interest in.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    On Riza, it was the British press that pushed for his or her removal from the WB. He had broken policy about having relationships with employees of the WB. After she was moved to a position where she wouldn’t be under his direct supervision, he pushed for her to be conpensated by $180K through ensureing a position for her.

    Except that this isn’t the real sequence of events, Zedd. Wolfowitz went to the ethics committee before the press got involved at all and followed their instructions to avoid the conflict of interest. The press then picked up on it after the fact. The WB board has publicly admitted that this was the case and that Wolfowitz was in no way at fault.

    I am not sure what you think corruption is. That is what it looks like.

    No, that’s what it’s been spun as. The problem is there’s no truth to it.

    It seems to be lost on you that international engagement requires a great deal of diplomacy. Storming around like a 7th grader proclaiming what SHOULD be and going against universal law of human engagement is useless. There is standard protocol. If you don’t have the wit to get what you need accomplished within the rules of that protocol then you are not qualified Dave. THAT is the point.

    I understand diplomacy, but Wolfowitz wasn’t given a primarily diplomatic job. It was an administrative job at a financial NGO, something for which he was well qualified.

    Its immature to throw a tantrum about right is right, especially regarding this administration AND Wolfowitz.

    And this would be the definition of corruption in this context – placing a different set of standards, such as placating international interest groups, ahead of the basic rule of right and wrong.

    Dave

  • Alec

    Lumpy – re: ah. But they were at least interested in trying to figure out solutions which prior administrators, the board and the 10000 bureaucrats had no interest in.

    Actually, the New Yorker profile gave examples in which Wolfowitz simply tried to cut off money projects in countries with corrupt regimes, but never tried pressuring the countries into co-operating or coming up with any other alternatives. The idea that the World Bank might develop some criteria for measuring the effectiveness of aid programs never seemed to occur to him. Instead, his efforts to cut off the money appeared to be at best arbitrary, and at worst appeared to be directed solely at countries that had somehow displeased the US.

    Wolfowitz’s biggest problem seemed to be that he didn’t understand that while he was working for or advising the Bush administration, he was dealing with people and institutions that were already on the same page with respect to goals and ideology. He could neither lead nor persuade at the World Bank because no one there wanted to be America’s bitch. He seemed foolishly to believe that just because the US traditionally chose the head of the World Bank, this automatically meant that they would fall in line with America’s world view about economic development policy. Bolton could pull this kind of crap at the UN because he was still representing US policy. Wolfowitz simply did not understand that he was working in a different forum.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Sorry, Alec. I don’t see the problem with cutting off funds to corrupt regimes. All that money does is shore up those oppressive governments. None of it goes to what it’s intended for. Cutting them off is an obvious first step. And rememember, Wolfowitz was hardly at the WB long enough to develop a feel for what was needed or go beyond the simplest reforms. Given the time he had, at least cutting off the abusers was a reasonable start.

    Dave

  • gazelle

    i love it.

    good riddance. the career move from failed war architect to failed development ceo. failed failed failed. yes its politics all the way to bring down bad ideas in bad taste, in bad style.

    In the making of current Iraq he is the epitome of evil.

    Wolfowitz Fueled Tensions That Led to His Demise – IPS news analysis

  • Alec

    Dave – re: Sorry, Alec. I don’t see the problem with cutting off funds to corrupt regimes. All that money does is shore up those oppressive governments. None of it goes to what it’s intended for. Cutting them off is an obvious first step. And rememember, Wolfowitz was hardly at the WB long enough to develop a feel for what was needed or go beyond the simplest reforms. Given the time he had, at least cutting off the abusers was a reasonable start.

    Actually, Dave, you may be wrong on all counts. For example, the New Yorker profile includes numerous examples of Wolfowitz touring countries and personally seeing some of the World Bank funded projects. Often, some funding was siphoned or re-directed, but to claim that NONE of the money reached projects is just flat out incorrect.

    Also, the siphoned funds sadly don’t always shore up corrupt regimes, but go into the pockets of corrupt officials who are just there to make a fast buck before they are deposed in a coup or until the funds run out or are cut off. I applaud the example in which Wolfowitz wanted to re-negociate funding for projects in Congo-Brazzaville in part because he was incensed that the president of that country had spent over $300,000 on hotel rooms during a visit to New York.

    Some World Bank officials were offended that some of Wolfowitz’s heavy-handed suggested cut-offs were not blandly neutral “reforms,” but would increase the misery of suffering people who were sustained by projects even in the face of corruption. These officials were also offended that Wolfowitz’s lists of offending countries was arbitrary and appeared to be tilted in favor of maintaining funding to corrupt countries that were US allies.

    That Wolfowitz was not in the job long enough is not a good excuse. The plans he laid out while there revealed him to be a poor executive. But I will cut him some slack on one point: both he and the Bush Administration which appointed him under-estimated the degree to which World Bank veterans would refuse to co-operate with him because they viewed him as one of the chief neo-cons responsible for the war in Iraq. Wolfowitz lacked the skills and the temperament to diplomatically overcome this resistance.

  • Zedd

    Dave

    The Washington Post reported that

    1. Wolfowitz had directly dictated the terms of the contract (for Riza) to the head of human resources, Coll.

    2. the Bank’s top lawyer had been excluded from the negotiation of the contract.

    3. neither the Bank’s board nor the Ethics Committee had been informed at the time of the specific terms of the final agreement. The then-chair of the Ethics Committee, Ad Melkert, acknowledged that he was not informed.

    Wolfowitz apologized and called his actions a mistake.

    Reckless behavior for a person who is supposed to be cleaning house. WHY would ANYONE bring their GIRLFRIEND on to such an assignment in the first place? This lapse in judgement is a clear indication of a lack of qualification on his part. Also, if you are not aware that all posts that involve international interaction on behalf of ones country are diplomatic, you possess a unique form of naivety that may knock you right out of such discussions.

    Needless to say, if you are going to be in public accusations, you have to make sure that you have no perceived skeletons in your closet. Also, any good leader will tell you that you don’t want to walk into a post with guns blazing. Its crucial to study the terrain find out who will work with you and carefully make precise changes.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Actually, Dave, you may be wrong on all counts.

    Not based on your comments below.

    For example, the New Yorker profile includes numerous examples of Wolfowitz touring countries and personally seeing some of the World Bank funded projects. Often, some funding was siphoned or re-directed, but to claim that NONE of the money reached projects is just flat out incorrect.

    I didn’t claim that, though others have done so about specific countries. Obviously some projects were executed better than others, but there’s no excuse for continuing funding for a project where most of the money gets siphoned off by the oppressive regime which created the crisis the WB is trying to address in the first place.

    Also, the siphoned funds sadly don’t always shore up corrupt regimes, but go into the pockets of corrupt officials who are just there to make a fast buck before they are deposed in a coup or until the funds run out or are cut off.

    And this is better or even meaningfully different in any way? Come again?

    I applaud the example in which Wolfowitz wanted to re-negociate funding for projects in Congo-Brazzaville in part because he was incensed that the president of that country had spent over $300,000 on hotel rooms during a visit to New York.

    Are you applauding the example or applauding Wolfowitz? That seems like exactly the kind of waste of WB funds he ought to have been cracking down on.

    Some World Bank officials were offended that some of Wolfowitz’s heavy-handed suggested cut-offs were not blandly neutral “reforms,” but would increase the misery of suffering people who were sustained by projects even in the face of corruption.

    There’s more to it than that. What they were offended by was the – IMO correct – perception that Wolfowitz wanted to cut off funds as part of an effort to pressure those regimes into making democratic reforms. They seem to have had the attitude that the oppression in a country was not important if their money was getting spent.

    These officials were also offended that Wolfowitz’s lists of offending countries was arbitrary and appeared to be tilted in favor of maintaining funding to corrupt countries that were US allies.

    My guess is that their view of that list was highly subjective.

    That Wolfowitz was not in the job long enough is not a good excuse. The plans he laid out while there revealed him to be a poor executive.

    This is the problem with bringing these people who are essentially think tank eggheads out and putting them in executive positions. They have a lot of ideas but no clue how to implement them effectivley.

    But I will cut him some slack on one point: both he and the Bush Administration which appointed him under-estimated the degree to which World Bank veterans would refuse to co-operate with him because they viewed him as one of the chief neo-cons responsible for the war in Iraq. Wolfowitz lacked the skills and the temperament to diplomatically overcome this resistance.

    As I said earlier, they clearly thought that the intent to do good and make things better was enough. There’s a remarkable naivete to a lot of things the Bush administration does. They seem to think that good intentions will be enough to break people out of years long habits of corruption and indifference and suddenly shock them into playing nice.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    I don’t think Wolfowitz is smart. What evidence is there that he’s ever done anything smart? Glib, perhaps, but not smart. Just another over-promoted Bush flunky, as near as I can see.

  • Alec

    Dave: you’re still wrong. Worse, you commit the editorial sin of not acknowledging your errors and obvious hyperbole.

    re: I didn’t claim that, though others have done so about specific countries.

    You clearly wrote “None of it goes to what it’s intended for. Cutting them off is an obvious first step.” You did not ascribe this conclusion to anyone other than yourself, nor did you qualify it in any way. Your clear implication was that all World Bank funding was stolen or misdirected.

    RE: And this is better or even meaningfully different in any way? Come again?

    I offered more details about how some money gets redirected not to defend all World Bank practices but to give other readers of this thread a better sense of the complexity of the problem than you are either willing or able to.

    RE: Are you applauding the example or applauding Wolfowitz? That seems like exactly the kind of waste of WB funds he ought to have been cracking down on.

    Note that my example of how Wolfowitz dealt with the free-spending president of Congo-Brazzaville resulted in a re-negotiation of a previous funding deal, not a simplistic cut-off of funding. This was one of the few examples of Wolfowitz operating with a degree of finesse, though this point was obviously lost on you.

    RE: Some World Bank officials were offended that some of Wolfowitz’s heavy-handed suggested cut-offs were not blandly neutral “reforms,” but would increase the misery of suffering people who were sustained by projects even in the face of corruption.

    There’s more to it than that. What they were offended by was the – IMO correct – perception that Wolfowitz wanted to cut off funds as part of an effort to pressure those regimes into making democratic reforms. They seem to have had the attitude that the oppression in a country was not important if their money was getting spent.

    There is no evidence anywhere, not in any statement or policy position made by Wolfowitz that he intended cutting off funds as part of some comprehensive strategy to pressure regimes into making democratic reforms. You are not offering an opinion here, you are just making things up. Also, you confuse a country’s corruption with whether or not they are democratic or despotic.

    RE: My guess is that their view of that list was highly subjective.

    Nope. The New Yorker article gives a fairly comprehensive list of countries that Wolfowitz gave thumbs up and thumbs down to. By any standard the list is arbitrary and significantly favors US allies.

    RE: This is the problem with bringing these people who are essentially think tank eggheads out and putting them in executive positions. They have a lot of ideas but no clue how to implement them effectivley.

    I agree with you here, and think that this has been a consistent problem with many Bush Administration appointments. They clearly believe that being tough or loyal is a substitute for competence and effectiveness.

    RE: As I said earlier, they clearly thought that the intent to do good and make things better was enough. There’s a remarkable naivete to a lot of things the Bush administration does. They seem to think that good intentions will be enough to break people out of years long habits of corruption and indifference and suddenly shock them into playing nice.

    I agree with you again in part on this. There is a disconnect between the Bush Administration’s intentions and their ability to execute policy. The sad problem that they appear to incapable of reflection and view their failures as due to the others just not letting them do whatever they want.