Paul D. Wolfowitz finds himself under heavy fire once again. As a deputy secretary of defense in the Bush administration, he was an architect of the war in Iraq. Now, as president of the World Bank, he has become embroiled in a dispute over his role in giving his companion, a World Bank employee, a raise and transfer. Mr. Wolfowitz, who was nominated to the job by President Bush in 2005, issued an apology late last week, and the bank’s executive board promised quick action to decide his fate. One of his signature campaigns has been cracking down on corruption in poor countries that the bank assists. Now his critics are calling him a hypocrite.
Here’s a sampling of commentary on the issue:
The president of the World Bank has one asset: his credibility ... Recent revelations have, however, demonstrated such serious failures that the bank’s moral authority is endangered. If the president stays, it risks becoming an object not of respect, but of scorn, and its campaign in favor of good governance not a believable struggle, but blatant hypocrisy. ...
In a world where curtailing corruption and improving governance have become central to the practice of development, the world’s premier development institution must, like Caesar’s wife, stand above suspicion. The Financial Times
KEEPING IT IN PERSPECTIVE
One of Wolfowitz’s priorities at the bank has been to attack corruption and corrupt practices — and this drive has triggered intense resentment among bank staff. Corruption is not a small problem for the bank: it’s generally accepted that somewhere between 10 percent and 25 percent of the bank’s resources have been improperly diverted — so we are talking about sums in the billions of dollars, possibly in the tens of billions.
The thought may have occurred to some discomfited officials: If only we could find some way to hoist these meddlesome president with his own petard, life around here would resume its pleasant ways. ... Under the circumstances, it was Wolfowitz’s duty to set the most stringent example. But even if he erred, let’s not lose sight of the larger issues — and the grosser scandal.
David Frum, National Review Online
The president has full confidence in Paul Wolfowitz. He’s done a remarkable job at the World Bank, where they are working to lift people up out of poverty from around the world. He’s apologized for the matter, and his board is undergoing an internal review. And we expect him to remain as World Bank president — he has the president’s support.
Dana Perino, White House spokeswoman
A TRIVIAL DISPUTE
The forces of the World Bank status quo are now making their power play, demanding that the bank’s board ask him to resign over an ethics flap involving his girlfriend. The dispute is so trivial that it betrays that this fracas has little to do with Mr. Wolfowitz’s ethics. The real fight here is over his attempt to make the bank and its borrowers more accountable for results, especially by exposing and punishing corruption. ...
Mr. Wolfowitz has tried to institute more accountability, especially on corruption. Who could be against fighting corruption? Well, for starters, a global poverty industry that thinks “governance” is a distraction from the only real measure of development, which is how much money “rich” nations choose to redistribute to poor ones. Never mind that many of these countries stay poor year after year precisely because they squander or steal foreign aid.
The Wall Street Journal
You can make a misleading case for war, support a secret internal Pentagon effort to manipulate and hype intelligence that supports the case for war, invade another country without preparing for what comes after the invasion. ... And nothing happens. In fact, you are subsequently awarded with a medal and a plum job. But if you use your influence to get a pay raise for your girlfriend, well, then, you’re in big, big trouble. It’s sort of like nabbing Al Capone on tax evasion.
David Corn, Washington editor,
The Nation, at DavidCorn.com
Wolfowitz, the neo-con’s neo-con, has now made a total shambles of the development goals of the World Bank through even more displays of arrogance and dubious assertions. He has alienated his staff, and led poor nations from around the world to rebuke him for his attempts to link all debt relief and loans to unrealistic, ideologically driven, and phony “anti-corruption” measures. Wolfowitz’s tenure at the World Bank has been as disastrous as his record at the Pentagon. The man is incompetent and a liar. He even hooked up his longtime paramour, Shaha Riza, with a financially lucrative post under his command. ... It is time for Wolfowitz to be relieved of his post at the World Bank before he can do even more damage
Joseph A. Palermo, The Huffington Posthttp://tinyurl.com/2upjq6