US: Bush Jnr's choice of Wolfowitz for World Bank provokes outrage Print E-mail

Dear Ones,

Read item #1 for the outrage summarized in the London Independent re Bush Jnr's latest "in the world's face fascism" with the appointment of Wolfowitz to head the World Bank. Similar sentiments of outrage were expressed in a number of yesterday's dailys, including the Washington Post [see item 2: "The Wolfowitz nomination "has broken the myth that this is the World Bank -- it's the American Bank" -- Moisés Naím, editor of Foreign Policy magazine
and a former representative of Venezuela on the World Bank board.

A luta continua! - Lynette

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#1 London -- Friday March 18 2005

Bush's 'shocking' choice of Wolfowitz for World Bank provokes outrage

By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles

President George Bush's nomination of Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World
Bank has triggered reactions ranging from polite acceptance to outright
hostility among foreign governments and aid groups.

Some believe he is unqualified for the job while others fear he will be all
too effective in using the post to expand America's global dominance.

Although his nomination is almost certain to be accepted by the World Bank's
board of directors and participating states, both the European Union and the
French government made a point of saying that his assumption of the
presidency is not a foregone conclusion.

The French Foreign Minister, Michel Barnier, pointedly described the
nomination as a "proposal", while Jacques Chirac, the French President, was
said to have "taken note" of the nomination. A European Union spokeswoman,
Claude Veron-Reville, said she anticipated a round of talks to discuss Mr
Wolfowitz's candidacy before any formal moves to endorse it. "A period of
consultations with stakeholders is now starting," she told reporters.

Peter Mandelson, the EU trade commissioner, was quoted as saying the
nomination "came as a surprise to some in Europe". In Britain, Gordon
Brown's office described Mr Wolfowitz, currently Deputy Secretary of
Defence, as a "very distinguished person" but said the Chancellor of the
Exchequer had not had time to consider his nomination because of his
preoccupation with the Budget.

Clare Short, the former international development secretary, described the
nomination of the Bush administration's leading neoconservative hawk as the
equivalent of sticking up "two fingers to the world". "This is really
shocking," she told Channel 4 News. "It's as though they are trying to wreck
our international systems."

Caroline Lucas, a British Green and member of the European Parliament,
described the nomination as "an insult to the world's poor". "As a leader of
the neoconservative movement," she added, "[Wolfowitz's] belief in
unfettered free markets and a philosophy that what is in the US's interest
is thereby in the interest of the entire world spells disaster for many
countries in the developing world."

Much of the criticism of Mr Wolfowitz is focused on his lack of direct
experience of the financial sector and his limited exposure to development
issues - for much of his life he has been an academic and a diplomat
focussed on military and strategic questions. Many experts and government
officials also found it troubling that the Bush administration, in
nominating someone for a job dependent on consensus-building, would pick
someone who has become a symbol of US resistance to that very consensus.

Not only did Mr Wolfowitz push harder than anyone for the invasion of Iraq
two years ago - with or without the approval of the rest of the world - he
also has a long track record of advocacy of a strong America acting as it
sees fit, pre-emptively if necessary, to protect its global interests.

"This appointment signals to developing countries that the US is just as
serious about imposing its will on borrowers from the World Bank as on the
countries of the Middle East," said Njoki Njoroge Njehu, a director of the
US-based 50 Years is Enough Network, an outspoken critic of the World Bank.

Some governments expressed cautious satisfaction with Mr Wolfowitz's
nomination, among them Japan, which called the appointment "fine", and
China, which said it would be willing work with Mr Wolfowitz in the hope of
maintaining what it called "a sustainable and balanced development of the
world economy".

But in Europe, such accommodating language was sparse. Many observers
questioned the sincerity of President Bush's recent charm offensive in
Europe especially since Mr Wolfowitz's nomination followed hot on the heels
of the appointment of John Bolton, a harsh critic of the United Nations, as
US ambassador to the organisation. "Bolton followed by Wolfowitz sounds like
a declaration of war," the French commentator Nicole Bacharan told Reuters,
"and if not that, a declaration of contempt."
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#2  Thursday March 17 2005 Page A01

Wolfowitz Picked for World Bank

Bush Nominee for Chief Faces Opposition Overseas

By Paul Blustein and Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writers

President Bush said yesterday that he has chosen Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul D. Wolfowitz, a key architect of the Iraq war, as the U.S. nominee to
head the World Bank.

The announcement was an aggressive move to put the administration's stamp on
the World Bank, the largest source of aid to developing countries, by
installing at the bank's helm a leading advocate of the U.S. campaign to
spur democracy in the Middle East. But it risked a new rift with countries
critical of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, especially since it came so soon
after Bush's nomination of John R. Bolton, another prominent hawk, as
ambassador to the United Nations.

The nomination shocked many among the bank's 10,000-member staff and in many
capitals abroad, especially in Europe. When Wolfowitz's name surfaced a
couple of weeks ago as a possible nominee, many diplomats and bank insiders
dismissed his prospects as remote. Although the United States traditionally
gets to choose the World Bank chief, there was speculation that a Wolfowitz
candidacy could be torpedoed by the board of the bank, a 184-nation
institution that has always operated by consensus.

Bush said at a news conference that he chose Wolfowitz, 61, because he is
"committed to development" and is "a compassionate, decent man."

The president also said that as No. 2 at the Pentagon, Wolfowitz had
demonstrated skill for managing a large institution.

Other administration officials cited Wolfowitz's experience as ambassador to
Indonesia, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs
and dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins
University as evidence of his expertise and involvement in development issues.

In a written statement, Wolfowitz sought to dampen fears about his candidacy
by stressing a desire to listen to a wide variety of views.

He also praised James D. Wolfensohn, the outgoing president, a Clinton
administration appointee who has run the bank since 1995 but frequently
clashed with the Bush team.

Wolfensohn "has deepened the Bank's commitment to poverty reduction,
emphasizing such key factors in development as education, health --
particularly HIV/AIDS, women, youth, and the environment," Wolfowitz said.

If approved by the bank's board, Wolfowitz would assume command of an
institution that lends about $20 billion a year to developing nations and
often plays an enormously influential role in shaping their policies because
of the conditions it sets for aid.

The World Bank in recent years has been a target of groups that consider it
to be an agent of Western corporate capitalism, especially the U.S. variety.
Sensitivities abroad are inflamed about the Bush administration's propensity
to throw its weight around the world.

Accordingly, the nomination was denounced by many of the groups that came to
regard the bank under Wolfensohn as more receptive to their concerns.
"Wolfowitz has shown nothing but disdain for collaboration with other
countries," said David Waskow, director of the international program at
Friends of the Earth. "How's he going to run the World Bank effectively, and
to what end?"

Some others, even some who hold Wolfowitz in high esteem, worried that the
nomination would crystallize the impression that the bank is an instrument
of U.S. foreign policy.

The bank's loans were often used during the Cold War to support dictators
friendly to the United States, a reputation the bank has only recently begun
to live down.

The Wolfowitz nomination "has broken the myth that this is the World Bank --
it's the American Bank," said Moisés Naím, editor of Foreign Policy magazine
and a former representative of Venezuela on the World Bank board. Although
he said Wolfowitz is "a man of ideas" who has firsthand knowledge of Third
World poverty and can command support from the White House, Naím said Bush
"has injected America's image problem in an institution that already had a
lot of its own problems."

But Kenneth L. Adelman, a former Reagan administration official, described
Wolfowitz as "a perfect fit" who would bring a different philosophy to the
World Bank than his predecessors and would be more eager to bypass
governments and steer money to private organizations.

"I can't think of a World Bank president who would be as conservative as he
would be," Adelman said.

"Socialist governments are going to complain about him but socialist
governments don't have a track record of enormous success in helping
developing countries," Adelman said.

Some World Bank staff members speculated that Wolfowitz would use the bank's
financial clout to advance the goal of spreading democracy, especially in
the Middle East.

Wolfowitz, in a phone interview, rejected suggestions that he might change
bank policy by, for example, making loans contingent on democratic rule.
"When the bank sticks to its knitting and works on poverty reduction, that's
just a huge contribution to overall progress," he said. "You certainly don't
want to say that this institution, which plays such an important role in
fighting the AIDS epidemic in Africa, will have a different agenda" because
of concerns about how African countries are ruled.

"It's not a secret. I care a lot about the spread of freedom and democracy,"
Wolfowitz said. "But as I've said over and over again, I think there's a
political stream and an economic stream, and they flow together and
reinforce each other.

"If I'm president of the World Bank, I know which stream I'm focused on," he
said.

It wasn't clear yesterday whether Wolfowitz will be opposed by other bank
shareholders. No U.S. choice for bank president has ever been opposed, but
in 2000 the Clinton administration effectively vetoed Europe's first choice
to head the International Monetary Fund, even though the IMF job is
traditionally a European preserve.

The 24 members of the World Bank's board represent member countries or
groups of countries, with voting power based mainly on their financial
contributions to the bank's capital, so that the United States has about 16
percent of the votes, Japan 8 percent, Germany 4.5 percent, France 4.3
percent and so on. But contested votes are almost unheard of because the
board considers consensus to be essential.

Carole L. Brookins, who resigned as the administration's representative on
the board a couple of months ago, said that because the bank operates by
consensus, "I can't imagine the U.S. putting up a candidate, especially
someone of this stature, without doing the homework to make sure he would be
acceptable."

Administration officials said Treasury Secretary John W. Snow had contacted
his counterparts from a number of other nations in recent weeks, including
France, Germany and all the other members of the Group of Seven major
industrial countries, to discuss the bank presidency.

But until yesterday morning, his conversations concerned only the
qualifications a new president should have, not specific names, the
officials said. "The secretary was encouraged by his calls," a Treasury
official said. "We're optimistic about the dialogue that will occur within
the World Bank board."

European sources at the bank said yesterday that they were awaiting
instructions from their capitals about how to respond. A spokesman for
French President Jacques Chirac was noncommittal in describing Chirac's
position after a phone call from Bush.

"The president took note of this candidacy and will examine it in the spirit
of friendship between our two countries, bearing in mind the missions of the
World Bank," the spokesman said.