who will be next World Bank President What will they do


NGO tactics questioned. Combative South African author and activist Patrick Bond (bio - PDF) takes on Wolfowitz and Wolfowitz's critics in an impassioned article for Counterpunch.

Patrick cites South African activist poet Dennis Brutus, saying "it is crucial for us to up the ante against the system we might term global apartheid. The World Bank is at the nerve center of that system, and will now become a 'War Bank'".

Brutus has long warned against the "divide-and-conquer tactics of outgoing World Bank president James Wolfensohn ('Wolfy 1'), who was perfectly willing to fund Bush's illegitimate neocolonial rule in Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti". Patrick Bond says "the man now labeled 'Wolfy2' has none of his predecessor's talents in softening up NGOs in meaningless 'multistakeholder forums' on issues ranging from dams to mining/petroleum to structural adjustment". Wolfowitz will "add more explicit White House geopolitics to the Bank's noxious recipe".

Patrick condemns the tactics of parliamentarians such as MEP Louisa Morgantini and the hundreds of civil society groups who signed the Eurodad petition. Patrick is surprised that many "otherwise reasonable friends of his" signed it.

His complaint? "It's the job of robust NGOs to speak truth to power, and to not fear describing the Bank - under Wolfy1 or Wolfy2 - as a tool of imperialism".

I think Patrick, an old friend, may be splitting hairs. Our statement talked about aligning the Bank to "US foreign policy". A statement's strength and impact cannot be measured by the number of "-isms" alone.

Anyway I am in agreement with Patrick's conclusion, citing Raj Patel and Sebastian Mallaby, that the Wolfowitz appointment represents a mobilising and awareness-raising opportunity. Patel said on his blog, it's now "much easier to see how war and the Bank are linked if the man who's good at one can move to the other without skipping a beat. This helps movement-building, and makes it harder for the media to ignore the links".

One issue touched on by Raj, which will certainly come up soon, is how NGOs should and will respond when they are invited to a meeting by Wolfowitz. Raj's view is that "any NGO that tried to get too close would be much more widely seen for the parasites they are". There certainly will be big reputational risk for NGOs seen dining with the Wolf, and a severe danger of legitimising him rather than persuading him.

Alex Wilks ~ March 24, 2005

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