Friday, April 20, 2007

Wolfie, we hardly knew you...
(Or, you've done a heckuva job, Wolfie)

Sameer Dossani nails Wolfowitz:

Over the years, the World Bank’s hypocrisy has been so extreme as to be taken for granted. The ironies of talking about ending global poverty, interest rates and export policies while staying at five-star hotels and attending lavishly catered meetings do get a bit tiresome for Bank-watchers like me to keep pointing out. But the latest developments involving World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz and his former partner, Shaha Riza, take this everyday hypocrisy to new heights.

The World Bank Staff Association itself, which represents more than half of the Bank’s employees, called for Wolfowitz’s resignation last week. In an unprecedented move, Alison Cave, the Chair of the Staff Association said that Wolfowitz “must acknowledge that his conduct has compromised the integrity and effectiveness of the World Bank Group and has destroyed the staff's trust in his leadership. He must act honorably and resign.”

Since Wolfowitz’s appointment, about half of the Bank’s senior managers, either unhappy with Wolfowitz’s style or under pressure, have left. These and other developments leave Wolfowitz open to the claim that he is “neo-conning the Bank”.

Wolfowitz hasn’t left yet but it’s unlikely he will last more than a few weeks longer. Whoever takes the job next will inherit an institution that has failed basic standards of accountability and transparency, and has not made a dent in its supposed mission of poverty reduction. The new president will certainly have work to do. Some good house cleaning, including implementing real accountability and transparency measures—for the bank and not just the countries that borrow from it—would be a good start. One more step may be to start talking about how the Bank can make reparations for its past sins, especially those of pushing a failed economic paradigm onto developing countries.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

The arrogance of power and the sense of entitlement that people like Wolfie demonstrate is both an embarrassment and a stimulus to action at both the local and national level.

One disgusted Bonzo