Tuesday, May 15, 2007

sorting out the Paul Wolfowitz mess

* Clemons:
"This will be the big week in finally sorting out the Paul Wolfowitz mess at the World Bank. If Wolfowitz resigns, the Bank will have to initiate a period of healing and reorganization to assure its supporters and clients that it is going to expend its energies trying to help the developing world rather than on internal politics.

If Wolfowitz somehow survives, the Bank will start hemorrhaging staff -- from the senior levels to entry level -- and will likely lose needed European financial support for the next round of development capital needed to infuse World Bank resources.
I have been in touch with staff from the World Bank this morning who inform me that many in the place will engage in serious internal civil disobedience if Wolfowitz does not resign or is not fired. Blue ribbons worn openly to protest Wolfowitz's continued tenure are being worn throughout the Bank. Tensions are seriously rising.

I have been reminded by many that perhaps wrecking the Bank is what some supporters of Wolfowitz hope to achieve. This could be true, but I'm not that cynical yet.
To many Europeans, Wolfowitz's tenaciousness in fighting for a job he can't really ever have back resurrects for many the feeling of watching America embrace unilateralism as its preference with equal disdain for its allies and other key stakeholders in the international system.

The Wolfowitz fight is a fight over unilateralism all over again."

* JuanCole:
"The management techniques that got Wolfowitz in trouble at the World Bank mirrored those he used at the Pentagon to get up the Iraq war. Without cronyism, tag-teaming, and running circles around opponents of the war such as Secretary of State Colin Powell and CIA Director George Tenet, the pro-war cabal could never have persuaded Bush to launch the conflict or persuaded the American public to support it. State Department officials have complained bitterly to me about meetings called by Wolfowitz and others on Iraq in 2002, to which some relevant officials were pointedly not invited, or where the agenda was prearranged and rigidly stage-managed so as to ensure that only neoconservative points of view were heard. Other officials have spoken of being spied on by the neocons at the Department of Defense, to the point where they were reprimanded for cartoons or posters that they had hung on their office doors.

When Donald Rumsfeld appointed Wolfowitz his deputy in January 2001, the latter plumped to have his longtime associate Feith installed as assistant secretary of defense for policy and planning. Feith was an odd choice to be the No. 3 man at the Pentagon, given that he opposed much official U.S. government policy. He was, among other things, a diehard opponent of the Oslo peace accords between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Feith then appointed his former boss, Richard Perle, also close to the Israeli right and a man who had advocated an Iraq war for Israel's benefit, to head the Defense Policy Board, a civilian oversight body for the Pentagon.
Feith created within the Near East and South Asia bureau at the Department of Defense a body he called the Office of Special Plans that cherry-picked intelligence for any indication, however unfounded, of a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida. This propaganda effort came in response to Wolfowitz's special pleading. He did not ask whether such evidence existed. He simply instructed Feith to pull it "together."
Wolfowitz's record of favoritism, ideological blinders, massive blunders and petty vindictiveness has inflicted profound harm on two of the world's great bureaucracies, the U.S. Department of Defense and now the World Bank. He has left both with thousands of demoralized employees and imposed on both irrational policies that pandered to the far right of the Republican Party. He has, in addition, played a central role in destabilizing the Middle East and in leaving one of its major countries in ruins."

* FT:
"Paul Wolfowitz’s tenure as president of the World Bank faces a further test after the emergence of a classified Pentagon report pointing to a fresh conflict of interest apparently involving his girlfriend, Shaha Riza.

The report said Mr Wolfowitz told Pentagon investigators he enlisted the help of a World Bank employee with whom he had a “close personal relationship” in “activity supporting the war” in Iraq when he was deputy secretary of defence.
Congressman Barney Frank, chairman of a key committee, on Wednesday called into question whether Democrats would support fresh financing for the bank under Mr Wolfowitz’s leadership.

The comments will add to concerns that European governments could withhold financing if the Bush administration exercises its votes and influence on the board to keep Mr Wolfowitz in place. There was a repeated call for Mr Wolfowitz to resign on Wednesday from Germany, which heads the bank’s 24-nation board.
Bank officials said the board was also assessing possible conflicts of interest in 2003 when Ms Riza entered into a contract with a company that provides logistics, intelligence and advice to the Pentagon.

E-mails show the company entered into the contract at the direction of Mr Wolfowitz and following a recommendation by state department officials, including Elizabeth Cheney, daughter of Dick Cheney, US vice-president. The Pentagon investigation was carried out in 2005 as Mr Wolfowitz was leaving the defence department to join the bank."

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