who will be next World Bank President What will they do


The China: Africa link. (Update). Pundita makes another suggestion for why a few African ministers supported Wolfowitz at the weekend. China.

The argument: "if the Bank stopped being a lender. Well, that would mean less competition for China's very destructive lending policies in the poorest countries".

An ingenious argument, but a more complicated than those who simply say that people close to the Bank president used straight threats or inducements.

Pundita also pronounces on an extra reason why Bank staff are cutting up so rough. "Paul Wolfowitz and the American aides he brought into the World Bank never considered that Bank mandarins who are expats will fight for their jobs with a fierceness that even a Pentagon general can't muster. A Pentagon mandarin who is forced out of the US military doesn't have to leave America; unless a Bank employee immediately finds other employment in the US, he has no choice but to leave if he's fired or forced out of the Bank".

It's true that many Bank staff have visas dependent on their World Bank contract. And that that often makes them cautious. But that's why it's so amazing that so many staff at all levels are speaking out, and that the Staff Association chair has firm backing to take a very strong line.

The Economist also has a long piece analysing the Bank staff situation. "In their rage, the staff have shed all deference and discretion". Why? "Some of the bank's professionals complain that he is too secure in his own insights, unimpressed by the accumulated wisdom of the institution. That intellectual temperament may explain both his enthusiasm for invading Iraq and his lack of support in an institution that prides itself on its expertise. His underlings dislike the sectarian style Mr Wolfowitz seems to share with the man who appointed him. The career staff resent his richly rewarded inner circle, drafted in from his past."

For me the vocal Bank staff comments are a clear demonstration that the Wolfowitz saga has reached a point of no return. Staff would not risk their status if they thought he'd continue and be in a position to do a witch hunt to remove them.

Pundita posted another story on 24 April with a clarification following feedback from her readers. She renames the Hilary Benn fallacy the Jeffrey Sachs fallacy, and says that the worldbankpresident.org website has "helped avert world war". Wow!

Alex Wilks ~ April 19, 2007

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