who will be next World Bank President What will they do


(UPDATED) The Sun Rises Over Washington and he's still there. Accounts differ over Paul Wolfowitz's performance at Monday's appearance at the ad hoc committee, with his two lawyers. Mr. Wijffels, the Dutch ED who is chairing the group, is proceeding very deliberately, and the best account says they will finish some interviews, complete their report and issue it Thursday. But what are people thinking?

Most believe that the huffing and puffing on the sidewalk from Paul Wolfowitz's expensive public relations officer (in a blue tie, no less) annoyed more people than it convinced.

Board members are keeping mum, but the mood on the upper floors of the building is "tense" and, most agree, the ad hoc committee was not impressed. A grim-faced Chinese ED (and member of the panel) joined the Bank's VP and Secretary (and former deputy General Counsel) and a senior legal colleague for lunch in the cafeteria yesterday.

Staff reaction on the internal wiki (bulletin board, now attached to a "Leaders and Leadership" article on the intranet news page) was dismissive. Reaction to Wolfowitz's defiant Board statement, which he kindly emailed to all staff, was hostile. Bank staff readers of the lawyers' brief (20 mind-numbing pages of legal re-hash) were in shock about the numerous holes in the story (like PW's socks), and things were heating up inside even before former GC Robert Danino's rebuttal, and assertion in his statement that Wolfowitz acted "improperly". Ad Melkert's spokesman took a similarly hard line against Wolfowitz's snarled recollections, and Melkert will speak to the ad hoc committee this morning.

The Bush/Merkel handling of the issue at their summit press conference also reflects careful timing. Bush could not be seen to distance himself from his appointee, for fear of annoying his base (including those who, like Paul Wolfowitz, think WMDs+Saddam Hussein=War to keep Al Qaeda from Kansas City) and Vice President Dick Cheney, father of Shaha's first boss at State. Bush can be forgiven--the Americans are a generous people--for forgetting that it was Jim Wolfensohn who rebranded the World Bank as dealing with poverty while Paul Wolfowitz saw the brand as dreaming of a world free of corruption and cronyism.

As Jon Stewart would say "Wolfowitz, Wolfensohn, it's all the same". Wrong.

Chancellor Merkel, it's fair to say, did not fly all this way with the European Commission luminaries to get into a spitting match with Bush, or add fuel to the home fires given that there are leadership succession issues in both France and Britain in the coming weeks. "Trust the Process" is safe, with a renewed call for transparency.

The US press is picking up "smear campaign" which is always what your US lawyer says when you want to deal. Aside from money--even more than his sweet contract says--and the removal of some aides, the reaction seems to be "just go".

Staff national groups are convening meetings on The Current Situation, the latest being the Canadians. The Harper government's stance, initially with Wolfie and Bush, has shifted to the "process being carried out" but Canadians, a liberal lot at the Bank, are dismayed with the Daboub/Wolfowitz stances on family planning and on global warming/climate change, so it should be an interesting BBL, eh?

Deep Insider ~ May 01, 2007

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