April 13, 2007
Wolfowitz - Poster Child for the Corruption and Demise of the Global Corporate Empire
By Les Blough, Editor
Paul Wolfowitz, one of the principal architects of the Iraq War, slipped out the back door of the U.S. War Department along with other Neocons after they thought their mission was complete. They managed to pitch the battle in Washington between the CIA, the White House and the Congress before leaving.
First the blame for the U.S. defeat in Iraq was placed on the Donald Rumsfeld who left his position as Secretary of Defense under heavy criticism by the corporate media. Then the heat came down on their moronic front-man, George W. Bush, who lost the November elections to the Democrats last November over the U.S. war against the people of Iraq.
The next major development in the Neocon war found the Democrats suddenly proclaiming themselves to be the "anti-war party" - after voting and funding the war for the last 4 years. In the last two weeks the Democrats voted again for more war funds - giving something back - for the $250 million pumped into their party for the November elections by AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobbies. The ball changed hands but continues to run for the same goal -but now against a full court press.
Wolfowitz Appointed to Head the World Bank
Wolfowitz got the golden parachute (or did he think it was a fighter jet?) from George W. Bush who nominated him in 2005 to head the World Bank. Until then he served as U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary under Donald Rumsfeld. All the neocons had their "back doors" planned and in place when the war they created began falling apart. They thought their mission to destroy Iraq and destabilize the Middle East was accomplished. Wolfowitz escaped the Rumsfeld thrashing and slid into his job at the Bank despite opposition from those who knew who and what he was. He was appointed as President of the World Bank on June 1, 2005. The personalities, morality and agendas of the Neocons do not change. With the same hubris and belligerance exhibited in his push for war on Iraq, Wolfowitz took on the World Bank mantle with a vengeance.
Robert Holland, appears to be Wolfowitz' last and only defender. Holland was a fishing buddy of George Bush, a Dallas lawyer and served as General Counsel of oil monster, Triton Energy, from 1994 to 1998. He also served briefly as CEO of Triton during this period. He left Triton in 1999 to become managing partner of business consulting firm, Texas Limited. George Bush invited Holland to a sleepover at the Texas Governor's Mansion and later nominated Holland to be a World Bank alternate executive director in 2001.
When Wolfowitz came to the World Bank, Holland tried to organize a series of "get acquainted" meetings between Wolfowitz and other board members. Holland stated, "I had no doubt that because of his identification with the administration's Iraq policy, it was going to be a challenge". Holland's "challenge" was an understatement. Governments around the world were dismayed by Wolfowitz' push for the war on Iraq and he quickly gave them more reasons to distrust him. But apparently, distrusting and disliking Wolfowitz is not particularly difficult. These reactions were not limited to these client nations. He also gave the staff of the World Bank ample reasons to quickly lose respect and confidence in him.
Two Years of Corruption Come to a Head
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz faces reporters in Washington, April 12, 2007. Getty Images
Today, NPR covered the story of the Wolfowitz illegal payments to his sex partner with aplomb. They provided "both sides of the story" - as though two sides actually exist. But it is little wonder that NPR included statements that damn Wolfowitz - absolutely. NPR could not avoid the media blowout about Wolfowitz' international, personal and national corruption. His depravity is evident in all three arenas: He has now admitted paying $200,000 from World Bank (taxpayer) coffers to his sexual liaison - two years after she left the Bank to work for Elizabeth Cheney in the U.S. State Department.
But while cleverly noting his "shortcomings" NPR helped give Wolfowitz a "tough guy" image in true-to-form, NPR style, suggesting that he is a victim of his own success and high ethical standards. They quoted Robert Holland, Wolfowitz' last defender, saying that Wolfowitz "... arrived at the bank determined ... to 'shake up' the culture. NPR reported, "He [Wolfowitz] felt that the bank had not been taking a sufficiently tough line in dealing with allegations of corruption in the governments with which it was involved. In his first few months on the job, Wolfowitz moved almost unilaterally to suspend some high-profile bank projects."
During the year past, a survey showed that a large majority of World Bank staffers disapproved of Wolfowitz as president of the bank. But NPR pumped a view of Wolfowitz as the victim, blaming the fire under him on his attempt to clean up the staff: "Holland says that if a majority of the bank career staff disapprove of Wolfowitz's performance, 'he's probably doing a lot of the right things.' Holland attributes Wolfowitz's unpopularity among bank staff to a 'political bias against him and a defense of the culture and the status quo.' "
Nobel Winner Joe Stiglitz and World Bank Corruption
Joe Stiglitz, former Chief Economist for the World Bank and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in Economics was fired when he exposed the endemic corruption in the World Bank.
A number of nations languishing under the heel of the World Bank approached Joe Stiglitz, former chief bank economist and the 2001 Nobel Prize winner in Economics about their difficulties with Wolfowitz. In 2001, Greg Palast interviewed Stiglitz in London. Palast wrote that in 1999 the World Bank fired Stiglitz after he went public about how the World Bank fixed foreign elections (e.g. Yeltsin in Russia) and robbed natural resources and capital from poor nations to feed the U.S. Treasury which is 51% owner of the World Bank. In their report today, NPR does not mention Stiglitz' credentials as a winner of the 2001 Nobel Peace prize or as one who was fired from the World Bank for blowing the whistle on World Bank crimes.
One of the countries, presumably India, from whom Wolfowitz unilaterally cut off funds approached Stieglitz, telling him: "We want to see the evidence, we want it prosecuted if there's a problem,' that evidence was not forthcoming". Although he did not name India, Stieglitz described the country as having "strong democratic procedures" and added, "It wanted to make sure it was doing the right thing". Wolfowitz had cut off funds for a massive health program in India charging them with corruption. Stieglitz indicated that because Wolfowitz was not able to produce evidence of the "corruption", the country was not able to defend itself. However, Stiglitz said the problem had been identified earlier and that the Indian government was taking credible steps to solve the problem at the time Wolfowitz cut off the funds.
The Resignation of Michael Carter
Michael Carter stated that he resigned from his position at the World Bank because he thought the ways the Bank handled the allegations of corruption in India were "seriously flawed". Although he was World Bank country director in India, he said Wolfowitz' suspension of funds for India's health program came as a complete surprise to him and that Wolfowitz made the decision without consultation with the appropriate parties at the Bank.
Uzbekistan and Dennis de Tray
In 2005, Wolfowitz also rejected a proposal to provide World Bank assistance to Uzbekistan after the country refused to give the U.S. military use of its airfield to launch attacks on Afghanistan. He also made this decision with little to no collaboration with World Bank staff. Last Thursday, Wolfowitz, former U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary said his decision had nothing to do with U.S. foreign policy.
Dennis de Tray was responsible for the World Bank's service in Uzbekistan at the time Wolfowitz denied assistance to the country. He left the World Bank since then and has complained about Wolfowitz' Uzbekistan decision:
"I accept the fact that Paul Wolfowitz is president of the bank and has the right to do that .... But that he didn't discuss it with those of us who were knowledgeable, who had spent many months working on that strategy, who were fully aware of the sensitivities of it, struck me as creating an unnecessary chasm between that decision and the staff."
Wolfowitz and his Tawdry $200,000 Affair
Wolfowitz' sexual liaison with Shaha Riza will be the final nail in his coffin at the World Bank. WB photo
On March 22, 2007 the Washington DC Examiner reported that Wolfowitz and his Lybian-born girlfriend, Shah Ali Riza broke up their romantic affair. Since their breakup, news flooded the media that Wolfowitz gave Riza $61,000 in raises, violating the World Bank's own regulations. But his malfeasance at the bank reaches much further than breaking World Bank rules. According to Bloomberg News, at the time Wolfowitz was appointed to head the World Bank, Ms Riza had already been a high-ranking communications employee at the Bank for 8 years. She worked in the Middle East section. After Wolfowitz became sexually involved with with her, he had her tranferred to the U.S. State Department "to avoid any conflict of interest" !! Since leaving the World Bank 2 years ago, she continued to be paid just under $200,000 in tax-free, World Bank (taxpayer) money - while working for Elizabeth Cheney at the State Department. This was more than the $186,000 paid to her presumed boss, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Riza remains an employee on the payroll of the World Bank while doing whatever she does for Dick Cheney's wife at the U.S. State Department.
In recent days the proverbial shit hit the proverbial fan. Today the BBC reports:
"In a statement, the World Bank's board said it had never given its approval for a wage rise for Ms Riza ordered by Mr Wolfowitz, despite claims to the contrary by the World Bank president. The board said the World Bank's ethics committee 'had not been involved in the discussions with the concerned member of staff' ".
Riza got a pay raise that was twice as large as bank rules allow, according to the Staff Association. But until the last 24 hours, Wolfowitz denied that he had any involvement in Riza's salary.
In their report on all this today, NPR again went to bat for Wolfowitz:
"In fact, Wolfowitz still has many supporters outside the World Bank. In his two years at the bank, he has broken with his former Bush administration colleagues on a number of issues, including the need to take urgent action to fight global warming. He was warmly received on a recent trip to Africa, where he repeatedly called on the U.S. government to boost foreign aid spending.
"At the press conference Thursday, Wolfowitz was conciliatory toward staff members who have criticized him for relying excessively on two close advisers whom he brought with him to the bank, Kevin Kellems and Robin Cleveland, while failing to consult more closely with career bank staff.
"The criticism over Riza's pay raises would undoubtedly have been less pronounced were it not for Wolfowitz's outspoken campaign to improve governance in the countries where the bank has been active."
Now, in the blinding light of the truth, Paul Wolfowitz, Liar, Thief, Hypocrite and War Criminal says: "I made a mistake for which I am sorry."
Our message to Paul Wolfowitz and others of the same ilk
"Conciliatory" ? ... "A mistake" ? ... "I am sorry" ?
We believe you are sorry Paul - but not for your crimes. You're sorry because you got caught. We are sorry too, Paul. Sorry that people like you, Paul, are running world lending institutions that deliberately gain a stranglehold on the economies of poor nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America, plunging them into prisons of debt that rob them of their own struggling economies, their water, food, health care, education, self-determination and sovereignty through the clever manipulations of institutions like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the WTO. (As Greg Palast says, the three names are interchangeable).
Paul, we are also sorry that people like you are running powerful military machines that have visited such profound and devastating misery by the wars you concoct in nations like Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. You're just one who got caught. In your hubris, arrogance and belligerant view of your own entitlement you thought you could get away with your crimes. But this one nailed you. Do you now expect the world to hear your apology, forgive you and let bygones be bygones? Now it is your turn. Just as you and the other architects of the Iraq War have turned on your partners, Rumsfeld and Bush, your brothers will now turn on you. You will be offered up as they distance themselves from you and the cannibalization will continue as others fall from grace after you. Their descent cannot come too quickly.
Wolfowitz Will Be Fired
By all reports it looks like Paul Wolfowitz' will be fired by the World Bank Board of Directors. AFP reported:
"After a day-long emergency meeting that stretched late into the night, the board detailed the findings of its investigation into the row over Wolfowitz's Libyan-born partner, Shaha Riza. More than 100 pages of documents released with the statement revealed that on Wolfowitz's personal direction, Riza was given raises that took her annual pay package to nearly 200,000 dollars when she was reassigned from the World Bank to the US State Department."
But firing Wolfowitz is like putting a bandaid on a malignant tumor of a victim that is terminally ill. Are we to believe the Board of Directors knew nothing about this arrangement throughout the last 2 years when the place was rife with staffer complaints and gossip? Did anyone question the payments going out from the Bank to Riza? Of course the corruption runs through the main arteries of the Bank.
The World Bank, WTO and IMF have been instruments of theft, misery and death around the world. They must and will be brought down. They have been exposed for what they are. As poor countries default on the burden of debt in which they've been trapped by these organizations the flow of money to the masters of Globilization will be abated.
The Bolivarian Alternative, initiated by the oil rich Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is rising in the South. ALBA is buying the World Bank debts from countries like Argentina and paying them off, loosening the World Bank noose. ALBA is providing loans to countries without the manipulations and burdens placed upon them by the World Bank. ALBA's new economic system is reinforced by Banca del Sur, Telesur, Mercosur, Petrosur and ALBA-Petrocaribe. These institutions are developing an economic and political block that has already weakened the role of the World Bank, WTO and IMF in Latin America. And we can never mention the success of the budding unification of Latin America without citing the success of the Afghan, Iraqi and Lebonese resistance. Their heroic, sacrificial draining of the empire's armies, economies and political fabrications are key to the dawn of a new day.
Moreover, the working class has grown weary of the yoke of Global Corporate Empire and is rising up in the streets of every major city of the world. The days of Global Corporate Empire are numbered and the cheap, tawdry affair of Paul Wolfowitz is only one more symptom of the terminal, 300 year disease of Capitalism.
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