A US choice, fine. But why does it have to be an American?

The US administration is giving every possible signal that the next president of the World Bank will be chosen by the US. Europe seems to be giving its own signals that it agrees.

Take a look here and here for more.

The question is however : while all seem to agree the US will pick the next president of the bank, and none is willing to challenge that long, and outdated , “tradition”, why does it have to be an American?

There is nothing that says the US must choose an American citizen. .

Bush has an incredible opportunity to show wisdom and leadership if he chooses the first non-American in the history of the bank, and scoring an enormous political win for himself and the country in the process.

Or how about having an American president, and a non-American deputy president? God only knows that having a deputy would have helped the bank function a little better over the past few weeks.

One thought on “A US choice, fine. But why does it have to be an American?

  1. Following our site’s transition to WordPress a composite re-post of the comments on this article. Alex

    The problem here is probably not so much that an American president will be choosing the bank president. The problem for the bank is that the American president is George Bush. And that the American president is George Bush–this isn’t just a problem for the bank, but it’s a problem for America and for the whole world.

    CowDad ~ May 19, 2007, 05:36 PM

    How about Scooter Libby? He is very close to the administration, no?

    Nin ~ May 19, 2007, 06:25 PM

    One problem with Robert Kimmitt is that his office is in charge of search and vetting the candidates for new World Bank president. If he tries to pull a Dick Cheney, who was in charge of finding a VP for Bush and nominated himself we may have a different problem.
    But he is an honourable man. ” But Brutus says he was ambitious; And Brutus is an honourable man.”

    “Deputy Secretary Robert Kimmitt’s high-level colleagues at the Treasury are furious about his performance in the Dubai ports management controversy in which he told Congress he did not learn about the government’s decision much before the lawmakers did.
    Kimmitt, in charge of foreign acquisitions, denied prior knowledge of the sale to an Arab company of the British company managing U.S. ports only after Congress attacked the deal.(…… ) The ports dispute recalled the criticism 18 years ago when Kimmitt, at Baker’s assignment, vetted Dan Quayle as the prospective vice presidential nominee and did not ask him about his Vietnam National Guard service that became a major campaign issue. ( article by Robert D. Novak, Townhall.com Saturday, March 11, 2006)

    Ashraf Ghani is a US Citizen (he called himself an Afghan-American when he worked at the World Bank).

    Vet the Vetter ~ May 19, 2007, 06:31 PM

    Ashraf Ghani is a little too impatient for what the Bank needs now, safe hands. He has not managed a large organization successfully. Kabul University is probably like SAIS, and look how little Wolfowitz learned there. At least Ghani seems to be of impeccable ethics.

    Discerning Observer ~ May 19, 2007, 06:39 PM

    My vote’s for the Kiwi guy, Graeme Wheeler. He obviously knows how the bank works, comes from a noncorrupt culture, and showed moral courage in telling Wolfie the facts of life, that the game was up. I wish it could be him.

    A.M. Mora y Leon ~ May 19, 2007, 06:52 PM

    I had a look at the wikipedia entry on Ghani, and reading through what was obviously the work of a PR team, he looks like an interesting candidate. I like the fact that he has OPERATIONAL experience in a very challenging environment, but like the poster above, I harbor doubts because of his academic past.

    Much of what Wolf did, all the pocketlining and crony-caring is on the level of typical university office politics, which is a game he played well. The WB doesn’t need another guy who will treat the bank job as an academic sinecure and use its connections to go make friends with world leaders to thus secure future consulting jobs and connections for pals once he’s out of the bank.

    The other thing is, Afghanistan’s economy looks like a smoking ruin to me, I googled Afghanistan and economy and all the reports were really bad, the boom it’s experiencing is due to drug sales. The only people touting it as a wonderful economy are WB people, which makes me suspect Ghani’s got his own network of supporters inside the bank. Too bad it’s not reality based but obviously this guy doesn’t have a great record of success to show, even though his odds of it were very remote. I’m not persuaded he’s a genius who knows how to bring success, although I am impressed with some of the stuff the wikipedia entry said he did, stuff like stabilizing the currency, can’t disrespect a guy who could see the sense of that. No idea what he’s done about property rights in Afghanistan but if there were any, the war would be a lot less awful. Maybe he could consult some worldclass world bank research on that very matter.

    I think Ghani is a mixed bag, a bit more risk than reward, but not atrocious.

    A.M. Mora y Leon ~ May 19, 2007, 07:00 PM

    And vindictiveness! Forgot to mention ‘vindictiveness’ as a typical characteristic of university office politics. On that he excelled.

    A.M. Mora y Leon ~ May 19, 2007, 07:04 PM

    If I’m not mistaken, Wolfensohn took US citizenship just after Clinton personally agreed to nominate him for the position, so there is a work around to the “must be an American” thing.

    The bank does have deputy presidents, so to speak. They are the managing directors, who do the day to day operational stuff while the president is supposed to focus on the “grand vision”, hopefully beyond his zipper.

    Wheeler would be a great choice for president. He’d have to get rid of Daboub though, who has already shown his “rightist” agenda.

    I find it hard to believe that the Bush administration has the ability to show wisdom and leadership. Care to offer any examples of this? One could agree that sending Zal Khalilzad to the UN was a wise idea, but he is a card carrying neo-con with traces of common sense. Very unusual indeed.

    clair ~ May 19, 2007, 07:38 PM

    You are mistaken, it is in the public record that James David Wolfensohn became a U.S. citizen in 1980, that is 15 years before Clinton nominated him for the position. Anyway if is a non-american who do you really want, Malloch- Brown or Wheeler?

    American ~ May 19, 2007, 08:23 PM

    The fact that Paul Wolfowitz got involved in this scandal had NOTHING to do with the fact that he is American.

    Are Americans the only nationality susceptible to corruption and/or ethics violations? I think not, so why are we even debating the issue? Had Paul Wolfowitz worked for the IMF and had been European, would we all be calling for a change at the IMF? I think not.

    Mark ~ May 19, 2007, 08:30 PM

    I would continue to search amongst the candidates who can reasonably be expected to pass muster at the US Treasury and the White House. Good candidates who will not get through these hoops simply aren’t in the running .

    I have already suggested that both Andrew Natsios and Peter McPherson are experienced managers, palatable to the White House, demonstrably committed to development, and interested in listening to professional staff. Both are well known at the ministerial level in board-member capitals and should pass muster on that front.

    Both may be slightly to the right of the center of gravity in the WB professional staff, but only slightly. The trick in this process is to get a candidate who:

    * will actually clear the White House & US Treasury
    * meets most of the management/values expectations of the staff, and
    * will take the job seriously

    This is not the moment when the Bank staff can expect their “dream candidate”.

    Natsios and McPherson would do a fine job in completing the current presidential term and helping to get things back on track at 1818 H Street.

    Professor John Stuart Blackton ~ May 19, 2007, 08:36 PM

    Many people will raise objections to the candidates named by Prof. Blackton who worked for many years for USAID and now a consultant and also a lecturer in the US War College

    Mr. McPherson was a Treasury Dept. consultant in charge of the efforts to restore the economy of Iraq and the banking and financial system. Sadly, his efforts were unsuccessful. A report on the results of his efforts is reported in

    He tried economic shock and awe, uncontrolled privatization, and an extreme free market approach with deplorable consequences.
    Mr. Mc Pherson is the chairman of the board of Dow Jones. Over the last 2 months The Wall Street Journal distinguised itself for its attacks on the World Bank and the strongest supporter of Mr. Wolfowitz.

    A simple click in Wikipedia tells us of the travails of Mr. Natsios:
    In May 2001, he was sworn in as the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Andrew Natsios, then director of the US Agency for International Development dismissed the idea of distributing such drugs (ARV for AIDS in Africa) telling the House International Relations Committee that Africans could not take the combination of drugs in the proper sequences because they did not have clocks or watches and lacked a proper concept of time. In 2004, President Bush appointed him Special Coordinator for International Disaster Assistance and Special Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan. Natsios resigned from USAID on January 14, 2006.[2] President Bush appointed him Special Envoy for Darfur in 2006.

    On April 23, 2003, Natsios appeared on Nightline in his capacity as administrator of USAID (the lead agency responsible for rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq) to describe the Bush administration’s plan for the reconstruction of Iraq. He denied that the effort would be comparable to the Marshall Plan by claiming that the rebuilding would be mainly financed by international donations and Iraqi oil revenues, saying: “But the American part of this will be 1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this.” [3] The Washington Post reported in December of 2003 that the Bush administration had removed the transcript of this interview from the USAID site.[4] The Post noted that Natsios’ figure was by then known to be a gross understatement.

    The bank cannot expect a “dream candidate” but it can ill afford at this time of crisis to be led by any one of these two former administrators of USAID.

    American ~ May 19, 2007, 09:40 PM

    here is the person that should be named:




    Whiteman4ablackwoman ~ May 19, 2007, 09:56 PM

    Wolfensohn became a US citizen because he really wanted to be the president of the WB. But he had to do a lot of campaigning — and had to wait those 15 years (assuming the 1980 date mentioned above is correct — I can’t swear that it is, but I do know he became US citizen well before he was nominated) — before he finally made it.

    Anon WB Staffer ~ May 19, 2007, 11:12 PM

    May 19, 2010

    Yesterday I encountered an old acquaintance from my darker days in Jakarta. You might remember him as Paul Dundes Wolfowitz, the former ambassador to Indonesia, former World Bank President, former Deputy Secretary of Defense, former conservative scholar, former Man of the Year, former architect of the Iraq War. His former accolades are endless.

    Three years ago, Paul’s star fell from the neo-constellation Hydra when he was forced to resign from the World Bank. Not long after his departure from the bank, his paramour Shaha Ali Riza dumped him and asked him to leave their shared luxury condominium in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

    Paul told me he “needed some down time.” He went out west to Dick Cheney’s Wyoming ranch, lived in a one-room cabin and “just started writing poetry.”
    “I missed Riza so badly, much more than I missed power and controversy. Poetry eventually healed me,” explained Paul. “That and chopping wood all winter to keep warm.”

    Paul D. Wolfowitz now goes by the name Paul Dundes. He dropped the Wolfowitz in Wyoming. His hair is shaved closely now. He looks great for a man of 67, even jaunty with his silver goatee, black turtleneck sweater and cowboy boots. I am reminded of a beat poet.

    Few people remember Mr. Wolfowitz’ stint as a salesman before entering Cornell University. In the 1950s, Paul sold rubber stamps to pay his tuition. He went from business to business with his display case of rubber stamps and corporate seals. He did well and he enjoyed meeting new people.

    And that’s how I became reacquainted with Paul Dundes. He was able to slip by my administrative assistant speaking to her in French. Paul is a polyglot. Paul Dundes came into my office unannounced and charmed me with his display case of rubber stamps. He told me jokes in Arabic and German. How could I resist.

    Vic Monchego ~ May 20, 2007, 12:25 AM

    You think a “non-American Deputy President” would have been “a great help over the past few weeks”? Actually the Bank has a non-American Deputy President, named Juan Jose Daboub, from El Salvador. His actions on family planning and climate change have enraged Board members as much as anything Wolfowitz has done. If you think Wolfowitz is an ideologue, you should learn a little more about our Deputy President. Officially he was one of two Managing Directors – the next level below the President – but in fact he has been the Deputy President, as the other MD (Graeme Wheeler) was marginalized well before he advised Wolfowitz to resign.

    Bank drone ~ May 20, 2007, 02:14 AM

    Carlos M. Gutierrez the Secretary of Commerce is another name being run up the flagpole. A very conservative cuban born republican had a respectable career in the cereal making Kellog Co., rose from truck driver to CEO. Without a college education and limited policy experience he is likely to face some resistance from the “elitist and hypereducated” World Bank staff.

    Eat your cereal ~ May 20, 2007, 04:58 AM

    Remarkably, appointing someone like Ngozi could make a lot of sense even for this White House. Why?
    1. This will not be an appealing assignment for many of their traditional Republican friends: (a) They know the staff and stakeholders are hostile and have a recent taste of blood — this job will take a LOT of work; and (b) Although it is technically a 5 year term, a change in US administration could create pressure to resign (just as Wolfensohn thought it was possible that Bush would want to replace him before his full term was up).
    2. At this stage of the game, the Bush administration really doesn’t need more fights with the Europeans or a drawn out or contentious appointment process. There are new leaders in Europe that the WH needs to do business with. The WH doesn’t give a damn about the WB — which also means it is not worth a lot of pain to them.
    3. Appointing Ngozi could be presented as a big positive for Bush — the man with the big vision and the deep commitment to women and to Africa. Not 100 miles away from having appointed Powell, and then Rice, as Secretaries of State. And so long as the US insisted it was its right to choose, the nature of the passport would be a secondary issue.

    wilson@wb ~ May 20, 2007, 04:22 PM

    Tony Blair would obviously make a good choice for next World Bank President, as he comes equipped with a chilling combination of cynical disregard for truth, a marked penchant for sanctimonious preacherlike assertion of obvious falsehoods, and a remarkable ability to believe in his own lies…
    Every reasonable person should root for Tony Blair : It would be a shame to leave such a hugely talented performer unemployed for too long…
    The novelist Doris Lessing (quoted in the “Atlantic unbound” online edition of April 23rd 2007) had the following to say about Tony Blair : “He believes in magic. That if you say a thing, it is true. I think he’s not very bright in some ways.”
    Most tellingly, when Britain appointed a new ambassador to the U.S. after 9/11, a Blair courtier is reorted to have told him: “We want you to get up the arse of the White House and stay there.” Not surprisingly, the Prime Minister had gotten up there well ahead of him…
    George W. Bush need look no further to find a fitting replacement for poor Paul Wolfowitz, who apparently ruffled many feathers by attempting to export the lack of finesse and in-your-face mannerisms of the Bush White House to the World bank. – The smooth-talking preacher man Tony Blair is obviously better suited for the position than any graduate of the Dick Cheyney school of diplomacy…

    Iroko ~ May 20, 2007, 04:40 PM

    I agree with wilson@wb above. Ngozi would be a remarkable choice. Not only because she will be the first woman and African to head an international organization, but also because the woman seems to be uniquely qualified for the position. Just read the links posted above about her. Bush can turn his public image 360 degrees if he chooses her. But knowing how good this WH is in always making the worst possible choices, I am not very optimistic.

    justme ~ May 20, 2007, 05:42 PM

    Colorado (US) born, Canadian citizen Victor Monchego, Jr. would make a fine president. Former field-level economic hitman for the EX-IM and consultant to various conservative thinktanks, operative and economic propagandist, polyglot. He speaks with an indescribable foreign accent giving him an air of sophistication. He has that je ne sais quoi, a reassuring handshake, universal wit, and versed in the subtleties cricket! He’s a bit of a rogue and never managed a staff but so what. Seriously, Ngozi would be an interesting and potentially worthy candidate.

    Rowan Mayhew ~ May 20, 2007, 06:09 PM

    Mark said: “Had Paul Wolfowitz worked for the IMF and had been European, would we all be calling for a change at the IMF? I think not.”

    Hmm…. I have to think really hard about this one… oh, of course, the answer is: *****YES*****

    PC ~ May 20, 2007, 08:41 PM

    Robert B. Reich, the former secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton, could be an excellent choice, but of course he is way too progressive for the right-winger George W. Bush

    Ed ~ May 20, 2007, 10:51 PM

    “Enter Robert Zoellick, the economic technocrat and Republican apparatchik who rode out the Clinton years by bouncing around a host of corporate and corporate-funded academic posts, a natural choice for the Bush administration’s point man on trade. Zoellick epitomizes what is wrong with the governance of trade. Registered with the Department of Justice as a foreign agent to represent the interests of foreign governments and businesses before the U.S. government and consultant to major multinational corporations (including Enron), Zoellick is on the cutting edge of technocratic elites who waft between
    public service and private plundering.” Globalize this

    Famously arrogant and stained by his ENRON connections Mr. Zoellick deserves closer scrutiny.

    Transparency Please ~ May 23, 2007, 03:26 AM

    My guess for who Dubya might name?

    Well, I think after the drubbing he has just taken on both PeeWeewitz and Gonzo “Wasn’t me”, Dubya won’t be able to resist his frat-boy impulse to do an “”up yours” in the next appointment.

    Remember Daddy’s Clarence “Long Dong Silver” Thomas appointment to the Supreme Court? What that was about was an “up yours” to the Democrats who had dared to turn down his earlier nominations of ideolgues — he knew he could play the race card if any dared object that Thomas lacked the gravitas, and sure enough, when the heat was turned on, Clarence called it a lynching, and all those Yankee liberals ran for the doors.

    Well, a recent article disclosed that in the (15?) years he’s now been on the Supreme Court bench, Clarence Thomas has spoken fewer words than any Justice since the transcripts started bak in the quill-and-ink day….and the article, being politically correct, put it down to the possibility that English not being his mother tongue (he grew up speaking Sea Island Geechee), he might not feel, well, comfortable in articulating the precise words etc etc. Well, that’s one explanation… another might be that he has no clue and daren’t expose it?

    SO…all things considered….my bet is on Dubya naming, dah-dah, her majesty, Condoleeza Rice.

    Why? Well, it worked for Daddy. Also, he’d get two birds with one stone: anyone complains that she isn’t qualified, he’ll send Gonzo after them to charge them with violating her civil rights, and that will pull Gonzo’s frijolesd from the fire, since then anyone who persists in calling for his ouster, will be enabling the “racist leftist whiners”. A play right out of Mr Genius Rove’s book (and not by accident, since he was the father of the Clarence Thomas gambit)..

    Just watch as DC Worker down in the bowels of Blue Plains has the last laugh on all those snotty World Bank orchids.

    The Mahdi ~ May 23, 2007, 04:58 AM

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    Sten86556 ~ May 23, 2007, 02:59 PM

    I’ve asked around and the results of the poll tell that the snotty orchids of the World Bank staff would be thrilled to have someone like HM Condoleezza I crowned as President of the World Bank Group. She was the Provost of Stanford which indicates she can be a good manager. She is charming, charismatic and single. She could bring a management style of tenderness (con dolcezza) and would use the in house talent and expertise to make the WB a happier place.

    A second popular choice would be Mr. Roger Paulson.

    At the World Bank we feel we are the best and we should be led only by the best.

    Only the Best ~ May 23, 2007, 05:07 PM

    The WSJ Provides in a “free article” a list of frontrunners. Conservative Republicans except for Volcker and
    Sen. Danforth. No foreigners should apply.


    Bill Frist (not Fritz the cat)
    Robert Kimmitt (the vetter)
    Robert Zoellick (ENRON Connection)
    Carlos Gutierrez (Secretary of Commerce)

    John Danforth (Episcopalian Priest and former Ambassador to the UN)

    Paul Volcker

    Who should be chosen?

    Sen. Rev. John Danforth or the great Paul Volcker

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