who will be next World Bank President What will they do


You can take the man from the Defense Department, but you can't take the Defense Department from the man. Fascinating extra elements are added by Steven C. Clemons in his Washington Note blog. Clemons extends the jobs and corruption allegations against Wolfowitz, and adds intriguing evidence that Wolfowitz has continued to ride his Iraq hobby-horse (surely war horse) while in his new role as Bank president. Clemons provides a very interesting story showing that "Wolfowitz -- as recently as one year ago -- was still manically obsessed with the connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda".

The post is well-worth reading in full.

The current saga is all about Wolfowitz's partner Riza. But Clemons reminds his readers about the two other Wolfowitz postings that raised similar concerns.

1) "Wolfowitz also ran afoul of senior bank staff in the past by elevating inappropriately Bush administration political appointee Kevin Kellems, who used to be Vice President Cheney's spokesman, in ways that violated the merit-based rules that had been adopted at the World Bank".

2) "Wolfowitz also hired Mitch McConnell national security aide Robin Cleveland to help spearhead an internal anti-corruption campaign at the Bank when there was speculation about her own role in trying to trade favorable treatment in the Boeing Air Tanker matter in exchange for potential employment opportunities for her brother. Cleveland resigned the Senate and escaped further scrutiny for her involvement in the Boeing scandal, but her Wolfowitz-assigned task bore some irony then -- and is even more ironic now". More on these stories in a previous Clemons post. See also the Bank Information Center's Wolfowitz Watch page, in particular this piece.

But his real bombshell (pardon the metaphor) is on Iraq.

"Wolfowitz and Kevin Kellems had dinner at the Aquarelle Restaurant at the Watergate Hotel last year with a very prominent member of Washington's journalistic community. The journalist in question had not met Wolfowitz previously and Kellems played a 'relationship-brokering' role. What is interesting about this particular meeting -- as far as I understand the details of it -- is that the journalist in question, who I cannot name but can attest for his solid reputation as a serious writer, assumed that the topic of discussion at dinner would be Wolfowitz's global economic development agenda, his view of how to make the World Bank relevant to 21st century security and economic challenges, and so on.

Instead, Wolfowitz -- as recently as one year ago -- was still manically obsessed with the connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Wolfowitz reportedly brought with him to dinner an enormous binder of materials, articles, essays, reports, intelligence, etc. -- arguing that the connection between Hussein and bin Laden's operation was real and robust".

Amazing for someone who pledged formally in 2005 to leave his previous geopolitics at the door of the World Bank. And again very dumb judgement to do such a thing. It's ironic that throughout this week Wolfowitz has been saying it would have been better to trust his instinct on the Riza affair, not his considered judgement which has led to the current mess. It seems to me that both instinct and judgement are very suspect.

Clemons also has a useful list of World Bank e-mail addresses people may want to use to express their views.

Alex Wilks ~ April 14, 2007

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