Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Blame It on the Management

Outgoing World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, who announced his resignation in mid-May (which will go into effect June 30), may insist that his staff...

Print Friendly

Outgoing World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, who announced his resignation in mid-May (which will go into effect June 30), may insist that his staff and the bank’s directors ganged up on him because of his role in the Iraq War, but analysts and a bank source say the ouster was mostly self-inflicted.

During a press conference at the outset of the controversy, which centered on his girlfriend and fellow bank staffer Shaha Riza and the unauthorized—and highly lucrative—compensation package he engineered for her, Wolfowitz suggested that antagonism had long simmered inside and outside the bank largely because as George W. Bush’s deputy defense secretary, he was one of the chief architects of the ill-fated Iraq War.

"For those people who disagree with the things that they associate me with in my previous job, I’m not in my previous job," Wolfowitz said in a statement. "I’m not working for the U.S. government; I’m working for this institution and its 185 shareholders."

This view was shared by his supporters in conservative circles and some factions of the Bush administration. (President George W. Bush has already nominated Robert Zoellick to replace Wolfowitz.)

"[Wolfowitz] was very unpopular because of his Iraq War position there," said Ian Vasquez, an expert with the Washington-based Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. "That in itself wasn’t enough to kick him out, but his giving his girlfriend a raise served as a good excuse to punish him in a way that probably was not proportional to the supposed crime."

But a World Bank source told the Inter Press Service (IPS) that the Iraq War was indeed a pretext—not for Wolfowitz’s opponents, but for Wolfowitz himself, who was trying to draw attention away from a poor management style that bred resentment over the past two years he served the bank.

"When bank staff and management talk to me, they do not talk about the Iraq War. They talk about his poor management, his arrogance, his failed policies, and poor judgment," the source said.

Dennis de Tray, vice president of the Washington-based Center for Global Development, also weighed in: "What he thinks and what he says are two different things."

"Mr. Wolfowitz doesn’t care for the notion that he has been forced out of the bank because he managed the bank badly," de Tray said. "He’d prefer another explanation for that, and he is pointing to his prior work on the Iraq War. … The fact of the matter is that there were serious concerns in the bank about both his management style and the policies he was pursuing that were wholly independent of Iraq."

Critics say that Wolfowitz has never, at least in practice, acknowledged that he worked for a multilateral international institution in which he needed to consult with other stakeholders. His style of management left him open to criticism on a number of occasions that he was pursuing unilateral policies.

"That concerned senior management of the bank who were neither consulted with often nor listened to. It also concerned the board," de Tray said.

While the United States controls around 17% of the World Bank’s share, the remaining 83% is owned by other countries.

There are others who argue that his leaving had more to do with the bureaucracy’s resentment of his internal reform initiatives and his anti-corruption campaign than about his lapse of ethics.

"The knives have come out with every conceivable complaint against him. But it all seems to hang on this Riza case, which I think is groundless," said Pat Adams of the Canadian anticorruption watchdog group Probe International, in statements made to IPS before the announcement of Wolfowitz’s resignation.

"People may not like his history, his management, etc., but I don’t think they can attack his integrity or his commitment to slaying the bank’s contribution to bad governance and corruption on the basis of the Riza case," she added.

But another World Bank staff member who spoke again on condition of anonymity told IPS that staff was angry because of the "double standards" that Wolfowitz followed. "He began attacking and accusing everybody else of corruption when he was building a house of glass all along around himself," said the source.

De Tray, himself a former Bank employee, concurred that the World Bank staff didn’t feel threatened by Wolfowitz’s self-styled anticorruption crusade. "What really upset them on that front was that Mr. Wolfowitz clearly brought a lot of pressure to make sure all bank operations were cleaner than clean, then was found to have violated one of the bank’s most fundamental rules. The hypocrisy was just too much for the bank staff. That’s what angered them," he said.

"The bank is an institution of something on the order of 10,000 people, and something only on the order of 18 people [there] have been found to have problems that might constitute corruption. That’s not what anyone would call a serious problem."

Wolfowitz’s conservative leanings also fostered tensions inside the bank over certain policies, most notably climate change and reproductive health, as senior staff he brought in apparently tried to force right-wing conservative views on the bank’s development programs.

One of his appointees, World Bank Managing Director Juan José Daboub, a man known for his conservative stance on family issues, had in fact instructed a team of bank specialists to delete all references to family planning in the bank’s policy to an African nation. He also tried to eliminate references to climate change in official reports.

All that appears to have contributed to tensions inside the Washington-based institution.

"This was an event that sparked a broader fire that has been building over the past several years," said de Tray.

Emad Mekay is a writer for the Inter Press Service.

Citations

Emad Mekay, "Blame It on the Management," Right Web Analysis (Somerville, MA: International Relations Center, May 30, 2007).

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Established in Baltimore in 1897, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is the oldest Zionist organization in the United States—and also among the most aggressively anti-Arab ones.


U.S. Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis is a retired U.S Marine Corps general and combat veteran who served as commander of U.S. Central Command during 2010-2013 before being removed by the Obama administration reportedly because of differences over Iran policy.


Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is a conservative Republican congressman who was voted into office as part of the “tea party” surge in 2011 and chosen by Donald Trump to be director of the CIA.


Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and an evangelical pastor, is a 2016 Republican presidential candidate.


David Albright is the founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, a non-proliferation think tank whose influential analyses of nuclear proliferation issues in the Middle East have been the source of intense disagreement and debate.


The former GOP presidential candidate and Speaker of the House has been a vociferous proponent of the idea that the America faces an existential threat from “Islamofascists.”


Billionaire investor Paul Singer is the founder and CEO of the Elliott Management Corporation and an important funder of neoconservative causes.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

President Trump and his Iranophobe supporters are itching for a war with Iran, without any consideration of the disastrous consequences that will ensue.


Print Friendly

The war of words and nuclear threats between the United States and North Korea make a peaceful resolution to the escalating crisis more difficult than ever to achieve.


Print Friendly

The new White House chief of staff, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, is anything but non-partisan or apolitical. For the deeply conservative Kelly, the United States is endangered not only by foreign enemies but by domestic forces that either purposely, or unwittingly, support them.


Print Friendly

The prospects of Benjamin Netanyahu continuing as Israel’s prime minister are growing dim. But for those of us outside of Israel who support the rights of Palestinians as well as Israelis and wish for all of those in the troubled region to enjoy equal rights, the fall of Netanyahu comes too late to make much difference.


Print Friendly

Rich Higgins, the recently fired director for strategic planning at the National Security Council, once said in an interview on Sean Hannity’s radio program, that “more Muslim Americans have been killed fighting for ISIS than have been killed fighting for the United States since 9/11.”


Print Friendly

This is how the Trump administration could try to use the IAEA to spur Iran to back out of the JCPOA.


Print Friendly

President Trump seems determined to go forward with a very hostile program toward Iran, and, although a baseless US pullout from the JCPOA seems unlikely, even the so-called “adults” are pushing for a pretext for a pullout. Such an act does not seem likely to attract European support. Instead, it will leave the United States isolated, break the nuclear arrangement and provide a very reasonable basis for Iran to restart the pursuit of a nuclear deterrent in earnest.


RightWeb
share