Wolfowitz future becomes clearer, World Bank president blog takes its bow.

As Paul Wolfowitz clears his World Bank desk and trails more hints about his future, we are again putting this blog on ice. After very active and successful blogging on the Wolfowitz scandal and succession debates, a new Bank leader is about to take up office and normal Bank-tracking can resume through the multitude of websites and initiatives set up for the purpose.

Wolfowitz told the Financial Times (a paper that played a big role in chasing him from the Bank) that he will join the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank in Washington, as a visiting scholar. This will allow him to continue influencing public policy. Mr Wolfowitz said he would also “explore some ways to help advance development in Africa, both through the private sector and through foundation work”.

He tried to encourage speculation that he would return to

Indonesia to work for the US government again there. Philip Gordon, a senior fellow for US foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, did not discount that possibility, but said the need for Senate confirmation would be a big political obstacle to any nomination to a senior government post.I think also that he’ll stay at the AEI, rather than go back to Indonesia. He’ll perhaps join a few company boards here and there, including of some which operate in developing countries. This is my last post in this phase of the World Bank president blog. If the apparently clean-cut Mr Zoellick gets involved in any scandals (political or otherwise), we’ll be back. As we will whenever he decides to move to greener pastures beyond the Bank. The 1,000 or so blog posts will remain on-line for people researching or writing about the Bank, or just for people who enjoy a lively look at how international organisations are run. I want to thank:

  1. Riverpath (David, Abi, Jane, Vicky) for their sterling web design and maintenance, including their rapid reactions during a couple of crises.
  2. Our team of bloggers. Some I’ve worked with for years in our NGO networks. Others I still have not met, including one who’s identity remains a mystery. The bloggers who have been writing with interesting noms de plume have taken certain risks in bringing you their breaking news and analysis and should be especially congratulated. The quality, quantity and rapidity of the posts has been excellent.
  3. All our readers: since we restarted on 12 April we have had 137,536 unique visitors and 61,748,521 hits.

Readers interested in tracking the World Bank under Zoellick would do well to consult the IFIwatchnet website, complete with documents, a calendar and a blog. IFIwatchnet also features a listing of over 80 groups worldwide which track the World Bank all or some of the time. Some other plans are also bubbling about further progressive blogging about global economic institutions and policies.

Until next time, good bye.

10 thoughts on “Wolfowitz future becomes clearer, World Bank president blog takes its bow.

  1. The weekend press will no doubt have much analysis of what to expect from Bob Zoellick, who will meet Bank staff over coffee and tea in the Bank’s Atrium on Monday morning at 8:15. Zoellick is a man whose resume has achievements.
    Everyone should wish him well, particularly since de Rato’s departure keeps the governance issue of selecting the IFI executive heads squarely on the global governance agenda. That will distract the owners of the Fund and the Bank, who ought to taken the six weeks since Paul Wolfowitz was pushed out to settle the procedures for the next round of appointments.

    As for the disgraced Wolfowitz, IFC has given him an office in their building for six months, noting in the announcement to IFC staff and managers that James Wolfensohn was given a similar perk. Aside from being an ex-World Bank President, the comparisons between Paul Wolfowitz and Jim Wolfensohn are meagre, indeed.

  2. Thanks for the good work! Hopefully there will be no need to report on any other scandal at the World Bank.
    JPJ

  3. Dear Alex,

    A big thank you to you and your bloggers who kept us informed and entertained. You certainly did your part to aid in the ouster of Mr. Wolfowitz and you should be proud of the role you played in trying to make the Bank just a little bit more accountable and effective. We will miss you!

    World Bank reader.

  4. Robert Zoellick is certainly NOT “clean-cut”.

    Here’s an article by a former Oxfam staff member (now at the UNDP), which demonstrates that the appointment of Zoellick is yet another disaster for the poor:

    http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/ffd/2002/1220hypocrisy.htm

    Furthermore, he was one of the signatories to the 1998 Project for a New
    American Century (PNAC) letter which advocated war against Iraq:

    http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm
    (outgoing WB president Wolfowitz was also a signatory)

    and he also tried to push Genetically Modified crops/foods on the EU:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/3025217.stm

    So, he’s someone who pushes a US-style “free trade” agenda (with its associated strings attached), is pro-war and pro-big business. Therefore definitely NOT the right man for the job and certainly not someone who can rebuild the badly damaged reputation of the World Bank.

  5. A big thank-you to Alex Wilks and his follow bloggers from one of the 137,000 unique visitors to this site. Worldbankpresident.org has been an inspiring example of how civil society can use research, wits and technology to enforce some more accountability in the international system. Together with committed journalists and courageous members of Bank staff and management, the blog has made a big difference to the outcome of the Wolfowitz scandal. All the more disappointing that the member governments forgot their stated commitments to basic principles of good governance so quickly. A luta continua, and we look forward to seeing the bloggers back.

  6. Congrats. You were a valuable resource to many of us at the Bank during the recent crisis.

    May I suggest that you consider starting up this blog again maybe a year or so before Zoellick’s [first?] five-year term is due to end? (Assuming, of course, that his tenure does not end unexpectedly early.) This could give you a tool to start some early dialogue going on important issues like: Should Zoellick’s re-appointment be automatic or should there be an extensive evaluation process and maybe some consideration of the alternate candidates available? If he does step down in 2012, then how should the next presidential selection process proceed? Etc.

    Starting this dialogue EARLY, at least among the activist community (and World Bank staffers), might help garner more attention to the issue of how the president is chosen for two such powerful international organizations. And loud enough dialogue among activists (and staffers) just might help stir up more dialogue at the decision making level as well–ideally BEFORE the usual “we’ve always done things this way” inertia sets in.

    I also suggest a parrallel site, http://www.imfpresident.org (if that URL is available) to track the selection of Rato’s sucessor. As a Bank staffer I naturally pay more attention to events on my side of the street than I do events at IMF. But the presidential selection process of the two institutions are currently so tightly tied together that we cannot possibly reform the one without urging reform in the other. I don’t think we’ll actually change anything in THIS round (it looks like Europe is going to push through THEIR pick, whoever that person will be). But I think it can still be very worthwhile to at least hold the dialogue and bring more attention to the issue. Because then people will remember the next time around and perhaps raise more questions.

    Thanks.

  7. There IS a new blog to track the process for who will succeed Rodrigo de Rato as head of the International Monetary Fund. Set up by friends at Bretton Woods Project and IFIwatchnet, it can be found at: http://www.IMFleadership.org.

    In terms of my clean-cut comment, I was referring both to Zoellick’s style of dress and metaphorically to his likely ability to keep out of trouble better than his predecessor. I was in no way stating that he is a good choice for the World Bank, free of political or ideological baggage. More that his baggage is packaged in a smarter bag (Gucci?), whereas Mr Wolfowitz’s was in a transparent rucksack, visibly weighing him down.

  8. Thank you all for this great Blog.
    as a civil servant of a third world country, i deal with WB country team on a reguler basis and this blog has been a blassing for us ,in dealings with overtly bossy , hell bent on bulling WB types !
    i gues my reasons may be a bit strange for the rest of the redership but then, Mr.Wolfowitze and his relationships contributed in many ways to change the WB , to be more open , more earthly and even a bit humble in terms of dealings with third world partners.
    thank you again to Alex Wills and co.,for all your hard work.

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