Read here full article by David E. Sanger in New York Times
When President Bush appointed Paul D. Wolfowitz as the president of the World Bank two years ago, the White House had to put down an insurrection among European nations that viewed the administration’s best-known neoconservative as a symbol of American unilateralism and arrogance.
For a while, Mr. Wolfowitz seemed to defuse those fears, even taking on the Bush administration over how best to aid the poorest nations of Africa.
But now it is clear that the chorus of calls in recent days for Mr. Wolfowitz’s ouster is only partly about his involvement in setting up a comfortable job, with a big pay raise, for a bank officer who is Mr. Wolfowitz’s companion.
At its core, the fight about whether Mr. Wolfowitz should stay on at the bank is a debate about Mr. Bush and his tumultuous relationship with the rest of the world, particularly the bank, the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which have viewed themselves — at various moments since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 — as being at war with the Bush White House and its agenda.
As finance ministers gathered in Washington on Friday for the bank’s weekend meeting, Mr. Wolfowitz worked behind the scenes, seeking support for keeping his job. But there were few endorsements of his leadership beyond those offered by the Bush administration.
In foreign capitals, and among the bank’s staff members, it has been noted that Mr. Wolfowitz’s passion for fighting corruption, which he has said saps economic life from the world’s poorest nations, seemed to evaporate when it came to reviewing lending to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, three countries that the United States considers strategically vital.
Some longtime bank staff members complained that Mr. Wolfowitz relied too little on experts in international development and too much on a pair of aides who served with him in the administration.
Members of the bank’s board from around the world began comparing what they called the murky way in which the bank made some policy decisions to the secretive habits of the Bush administration.
Nancy Birdsall, the president of the Center for Global Development, a group that monitors aid to the world’s poorest nations, described what she termed “real doubts about Wolfowitz’s judgment” inside the bank.
Mr. Wolfowitz came to the bank with heavy political baggage. Since the bank was set up at the end of World War II, its president has always been an American, a fact that has engendered more and more resentment over time. That reaction was compounded when Mr. Bush selected Mr. Wolfowitz, who had served as deputy secretary of defense and an architect of the Iraq war.
“It took a huge amount of effort to quiet this down,” a member of the bank’s board of governors and an early supporter of Mr. Wolfowitz recalled Friday of the early insurrection. “And you would think, knowing that he was going into an institution that was deeply suspicious of him and the Bush administration, that he would have done everything he could to allay those concerns.”
At first, Mr. Wolfowitz did so. He made Africa his first priority. He displayed a passion and energy for the work — much as he did many years ago as ambassador to Indonesia, where he immersed himself in the culture and took on a dictator, Suharto. His campaign against corruption was intellectually unassailable and quintessentially American, and he was certainly right as far as the facts were concerned, members of the bank’s staff and leadership say.
But eventually his focus on that issue put him at odds with career officials at an institution that is famously resistant to outside influence, and which believes that fighting poverty has to come first, even if that means dealing with countries whose leaders are not above skimming a few million dollars along the way.
“He came in to a mood of skepticism and strong reservations by many,” said Geoffrey Lamb, a former vice president of the bank, who worked closely with Mr. Wolfowitz on questions of finance for the world’s poorest nations before he retired last summer. “My feeling was that he provided a bit of reassurance, by moving actively on aid to Africa and debt forgiveness. Clearly, those early perceptions have changed a lot.”
Over time, Mr. Wolfowitz created an impression that at critical moments he was putting American foreign policy interests first, most notably when he suspended a program in Uzbekistan after the country denied landing rights to American military aircraft, and directed huge amounts of aid to the countries he once recruited to sign on to Washington’s counterterrorism agenda.
It did not help that he relied heavily on a pair of aides drawn from the Bush administration, Robin Cleveland and Kevin Kellems, who created an inner circle that the bank’s professional staff members said they had great trouble piercing.
Mr. Wolfowitz’s defenders say that he was right to come in with a mission of shaking up the ingrown bureaucracy at the bank, and that the place desperately needed shaking up. But even they acknowledge that management has never been his strong suit, and that his judgment in dealing with the transfer of his companion, Shaha Ali Riza, was questionable.
In the backlash against Mr. Wolfowitz, though, there is also an undercurrent of settling scores — including those that go beyond the World Bank. Europeans still fume over Mr. Bush’s decision to send John R. Bolton, one of the biggest critics of the United Nations, to New York to serve as ambassador there — an experiment that ended when it became clear that the newly Democratic Senate would not confirm him to finish Mr. Bush’s term.
Others recall that the administration tried to fire Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian-born head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who famously declared in early 2003 that there was no evidence Saddam Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program. Dr. ElBaradei proved to be right, and was soon awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
So far, the White House has expressed confidence in Mr. Wolfowitz, but not with much vigor. There were no signs that President Bush was about to rush to his aid, though that could still happen. European and Asian officials bet it will not.
“There is a sense that we’re finally at a moment when Bush needs the world more than the world needs Bush,” said a senior foreign official who flew into Washington recently for the annual meeting of the bank and the International Monetary Fund.
“And there’s more than a little of that mixed in this whole argument over Wolfowitz’s fate.”
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Read here full article by David E. Sanger in New York Times