Zoellick’s bio: Enron, Trilateral Commission, Iraq and free trade

Robert Zoellick’s biography reveals some further interesting elements. He sat on Enron’s advisory board. This means that he should have interesting insights into corporate governance matters – one thing which the Bank’s board has pledged to fix up following the recent dramas. He must also have gained insights through his membership of the Trilateral Commission, a secretive top peoples’ club (though the official website no longer has him listed).

Comments on this site yesterday indicated Zoellick’s membership of ‘the Vulcans’, a grouping urging a more robust U.S. foreign policy and military intervention strategy. He also joined Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and others in signing a letter urging then president Clinton to undertake “a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts to … remove Saddam Hussein’s regime from power”.

The excellent (and already updated) Wikipedia entry has more. Including Zoellick’s views on free trade. According to Tom Barry, policy director of the International Relations Center “Zoellick “regards free trade philosophy and free trade agreements as instruments of U.S. national interests. When the principles of free trade affect U.S. short-term interests or even the interests of political constituencies, Zoellick is more a mercantilist and unilateralist than free trader or multilateralist.”

His personality could also be a problem. David’s January 2005 post on this site gives some worrying indications: “Zoellick is intense, wonkish and furiously competitive”. That post also shows how his air-miles and full Rolodex will stand him in good stead to network his way to a top job such as that at the World Bank.

There is certainly a lot to scrutinise here: the Bank’s board will be busy. Let’s hope they get another candidate to measure up against Zoellick.

7 thoughts on “Zoellick’s bio: Enron, Trilateral Commission, Iraq and free trade

  1. Mr Zoellick’s personality issues are virtually part and parcel of any high achiever and nothing to be concerned with at this point.

    You would expect him to be furiously competitive to get to, stay at where he is and go to where he is going.

    What matters is that the competitive streak is properly directed at legitimate goals.

    PW’s greatest fault is not SR, but his single minded focus on democratizing the middle east by toppling the regimes and installing a new government backed by the US. In that context, Iraq is just a bit player and the cheapest, easiest and most vulnerable country to run the experiment that was originally intended to spread throughout the region. Al qaeda and its supposed Iraq links (aka as things like ‘a picture of Osama was found in Iraq’ that proved links to them), and the supposed WMD programs (like possession of an X-Ray machine that can be used to study radiation ultimately leading to knowledge about how to build a bomb) are nothing but excuse to launch a regime cleansing operation to convert the region into compliant, pro-western ‘democracies’ that happily pump out oil and shut up.

    Institutions are suppose to change people, and there was a reasonable expectation that PW, after his debacle at DoD, would have been sufficiently chastened to take to his new job as a fresh start, and redeem himself. He could have poured himself into learning about development and championing the institution and causes of the Bank. He chose not to and instead, continued on his way championing his failed middle eastern project, pushing hard for narrow, parochial view of US interests (ie a segment of Republicans interests) at the expense of his international constituency at the Bank, and on top of this, abused the institution by wantonly disrespecting the staff, terminating ones who disagreed with him, and thumbed his nose at the institutions rules (including his contract) and failed to lead the institution.

    The question is not whether Mr Zoellick was a hard charging champion of the GW Bush administration. He would be unfit if he was not. The question is whether he will let the World Bank as an institution grow on him, whether he will recognize that it is a new constituency that is multilateral, established, and have its own interests he has to champion. Mr Zoellick is young, energetic, and in his prime and will more than likely be a very good champion and leader of this institution.

    There is every reason that Zoellick will do that — look at how he has successfully morphed as he represented different interests in his past.

    For those who do not believe he can represent a broader interest than narrow, parochial Republican party interests, it would be worthwhile to look up his Congressional testimony on China and Taiwan (which he gave shortly before he resigned as Deputy Secretary of State).

    Mr Zoellick, as Deputy Secretary of State, proved himself to be extremely conversant in US foreign policy toward China, and was certainly not beyond lecturing greedy Congressional representatives (many of whom have been paid off by Taiwan’s lobbyists), about the facts of life that dictate American policy in that most sensitive issue.

    As for the failure of the Doha Round at the WTO, there is no question that he had to assume a share of the blame, but like most things multilateral, it would be rather unreasonable to assess him with the lions share of blame for a set of American negotiating positions which he had very little control over formulating (it is the White House job to ‘roll up’ domestic American interest behind it) and other nations negotiating postures.

    It is disappointing and viewed with dismay that some of the postings on this site has tarred Mr Zoellick with the brush of being another Wolfowitz.

    Some of the disparaging comments about Mr Zolleick certainly damages the credibility of the authors in contributing to this very important debate.

    The facts about Mr Zoellick says he is no Wolfowitz and there is no compelling reason to believe that he will make a bad Bank President. In fact, there are compelling reasons to think he will make a very good President. On the other hand, there was plenty of red lights that PW would have made a bad Bank President before he assumed the job.

    As for those who are disappointed in the lack of an open global competition this time, Even if there were an open global competition for the job, he would almost certainly end up as one of the top 1 or 2 candidate.

    For those who may not realize it, it is almost certain that he would have to take a pay cut (at least pre-tax and probably after tax) to take the Bank job.

    Give him a chance. Let the Bank staff meet with him, let him make the rounds of the Capitals, and let him show what he can do for the Bank. (And not what the Bank can do for him).

    Mr. Zoellick, if you happen to read this, Welcome to the Bank.


    Conflict of Interest Statement

    The author has no relationship with Mr Zoellick, directly or indirectly, through third parties or otherwise, and stands to gain / lose nothing from his appointment, directly or indirectly, except for the satisfaction of seeing the Bank get a qualified and outstanding leader.

  2. The Bank’s Civil Society Team just now published a statement on the selection process (pasted below). One of the criteria set by the Board is “political objectivity and independence”. I’m looking forward to seeing Zoellick resigning from the Republican Party and anything else he’s associated with and publicly declaring his independence from everything and everyone. How can the Board otherwise appoint him?

    Am also noting they talk about nominees (in plural)…


    Email received from the Bank’s Civil Society Team 30.05.2007 16:49 CET:

    If you continue to follow the news on the selection process of the new President of the World Bank Group, below please find the text of yesterday’s statement from the World Bank’s Executive Directors. We will keep you posted on further developments.
    The World Bank Civil Society Team
    Communication from the Executive Directors on the Selection of the President of the World Bank
    (Also available in: French, Arabic, Spanish)

    Washington DC, May 29, 2007- There has been intense interest in the selection process for the next World Bank President, following the announcement of Mr. Wolfowitz’s resignation effective June 30, 2007. The Executive Directors have met to discuss matters related to the nomination and selection process for the next President of the World Bank.
    The Executive Directors have prepared a profile of key qualities for nominees to guide the selection process. The Board believes it is essential for the next World Bank President to have:
    * a proven track record of leadership;
    * experience managing large, international organizations, a familiarity with the public sector and a willingness to tackle governance reform
    * a firm commitment to development;
    * a commitment to and appreciation for multilateral cooperation, and
    * political objectivity and independence.
    As the selection process gets underway, the Board expects an intensive process of formal and informal consultation with the Executive Directors on potential nominees. In addition, they noted that nominations may be made by any Executive Director of the Bank and that the Executive Director for the United States has informed them that the United States will be nominating a candidate.
    The Board expects to receive nominations by no later than June 15, 2007 and to complete the process for the selection of the President of the Bank by June 30, 2007.

  3. He may not be listed on the official website of the Trilateral Commission but he has been a regular attendee of the Bilderberg annual secret meeting even though :”It is a violation of U.S.law for federal officials to attend secret meetings with private citizens to develop public policies.”

    He is not the first nor will be the last- just have to get the list of the meeting that is scheduled to start tomorrow in Istanbul and the meeting will end on June 3rd.

  4. Quite a secret, Beaver. So secret you are directing all of us to the attendees, location and time of the “secret” meeting.

    Don’t make law a second career.

  5. Beautiful website redesign, the place looks classier and cleaner. Congratulations!

    However, the same DC trolley is still around with his nasty little comments. Oh well must be one of the costs of doing business.

    People who are serious about development and poverty alleviation are hopeful that Mr. Zoellick will be a strong leader, a manager with vision and integrity.

    A man with a moustache who looks so happy hugging a baby panda cannot be that bad.

    He does have BIG EARS and we all expect he will listen carefully to the voices of the poor and the capable and dedicated staff of the World Bank

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