Paul Wolfowitz

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has also been US Ambassador to Indonesia, assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs, undersecretary of defense for policy affairs and dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. "He boasts how Johns Hopkins stresses economics in its master's degree program and has trained scores of World Bank officials" according to Reuters on March 19, 2005.

He was nominated as President of the World Bank over Carly Fiorina in March 2005. Reactions were very mixed:

initial press reaction

Mr Wolfowitz's nomination had "raised predictable hackles, at home and abroad", said the Washington Post. Mr Wolfowitz "has been a prime architect of the administration's Iraq policy and is seen as the personification of the 'neoconservatism' that is little understood and yet much criticised all over the world. But this hostility is mostly unjustified." Mr Wolfowitz was the best candidate for the job and by choosing him, "Mr Bush is showing that he understands the World Bank's importance."

The New York Times said his nomination was "a slap at the international community, which widely deplored the invasion of Iraq and the snubbing of the United Nations that accompanied it". The paper reflected on the "enormous" capacity of the bank to do good and hoped Mr Wolfowitz reverted to his "earlier incarnation" when, as the American ambassador to Indonesia, he wrote of the importance of reducing poverty in solving global conflicts.

In France's Le Figaro, Sixtine Léon-Dufour noted that Mr Wolfowitz's detractors asked how "such a notorious neoconservative, better versed in the art of war than in the fight against poverty, can possibly suit such a critical role".

"The nomination promises to be controversial," agreed Pablo Pardo in El Mundo, but it was doubtful whether Europe would be willing to upset its current good relations with the US over it. Nevertheless, he added in the Spanish paper, Mr Wolfowitz's experience, extended only to diplomacy and defence, not development.

Mr Wolfowitz's nomination and that of John R. Bolton as the next US ambassador to the UN suggested a "cleaning up" of the leading neoconservative figures from the department of defence and the state department, said Matthias Rüb in the German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, but there was another way of looking at things: "As an offensive by diplomatic means to promote freedom with the best leadership in key positions in important international organisations."

Wolfowitz's departure from Defense would follow on that of Richard Perle, David Frum, and other "neocons".

relationship with staffer

"Mr Wolfowitz's relationship with a member of World Bank staff, Shaha Ali Riza, a Tunisian-born British citizen who works as a communications adviser for the Middle East and North Africa department, also appears to have become an issue." - http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1441350,00.html

Ms Riza, a divorcee like Mr Wolfowitz, does not work directly for the bank president's office and their relationship would not be prohibited by the banks internal guidelines.

But one official said yesterday: "It should be covered by World Bank rules, because the bank president does have a lot of power." A colleague of Ms Riza said: "There's no obvious reason she should lose her job just because her boyfriend is made president." Ms Riza did not return calls yesterday.

grants not loans

Staff at the World Bank fear Mr Wolfowitz might push through longstanding US proposals to make it an organisation that gives out grants rather than loans. "It's much easier to politicise grants," an official said. "Loans have to be economically feasible."

staff opposition

Sebastian Mallaby, the author of The World's Banker, a profile of Mr Wolfensohn, said: "All incoming bank presidents face scepticism and hostility from an entrenched and proud staff of development professionals who think they know ten times as much as the new president."

European opposition

The World Bank's executive directors, representing its shareholder nations, announced yesterday they would be interviewing Mr Wolfowitz in the next few days before making a final decision.

Mr Mallaby said he expected European states to block the appointment.

likely World Bank priorities

A Reuters report from March 19, 2005 notes his priorities for the World Bank as of 2005-03:

"If approved as bank president, he said he wants to re-examine lessons of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis "to see whether people have fully absorbed them or whether there is more to do because it probably won't be the last such crisis."

In the interview, he was cautious about subjects such as a U.S. Senate probe of corruption at the World Bank and other international development banks, and about a push by nongovernmental groups for the International Monetary Fund to sell undervalued gold stocks to relieve poor country debt. See global debt relief.

"If there is an issue (of corruption) there, it has to be looked at," he said.

As for the gold, he told Reuters "it would really be wrong for me to step in (to the bank presidency) with a fixed view." But he said NGO views "are clearly important and influential" and that he would take them into account.

After years spent dealing with Asia, some fear he will focus too much bank attention there.

But Wolfowitz said: "I think the total level of misery in Africa, particularly because of the AIDS epidemic, puts it at the top of the list."

These appear to be responses to his most ardent critics.

quotable quotes

Regarding who pays in Iraq:

"To assume we're going to pay for it all is just wrong" and "I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq in reconstruction." - Paul Wolfowitz

Suddenly the US Administration's interest in having Mr. Wolfowitz run the World Bank becomes clear. Back Bono! Other amazing Bush League nominations:

See en: wikipedia: Paul Wolfowitz and especially en: sourcewatch: Paul Dundes Wolfowitz.