who will be next World Bank President What will they do


Wolfowitz's defence: what's the outlook? Wolfowitz's statement yesterday really repays careful reading. Posted here (PDF) late yesterday, you can see many comments already from site visitors. But what amazes me most about it is the way that Wolfowitz says he did nothing wrong on Riza, skips over several other issues in the Ad Hoc Group's report, then proceeds to admit that his overall management at the Bank has been a disaster.

Meanwhile there are hints of a new deal being offered by the US government, that the Canadian government has swung against Wolfowitz, and that the Europeans are not softening their positions.

Wolfowitz's defence
In short it's this:
a) I was right (enough) on Riza.
b) what this fuss is really about is his 'leadership and management style'
c) on the latter there are 'many significant things I need to change'
d) I have nothing to say about the aggressive and misleading public announcements and press briefings by my advisers and lawyer.

In other words he is trying to wriggle off on the Riza charge, is silent on the dodgy messaging which has helped bring the Bank into disrepute. He admits that his relations with staff have long been in the dust and that he has made many mistakes that are surely much more serious than the conflicts of interest around his 'girlfriend'. His most telling admission is his over-reliance on advisers from outside, and failure to talk to Bank staff.

As many have argued this morning on our comments board this is too little, too late, and many many questions remain unanswered by Wolfowitz's defence.

U.S. government strategy
The Bush administration seems to be shifting strategy in the face of mounting opposition to Paul D. Wolfowitz. On ABC News a White House official told ABC's Jonathan Karl that 'all options are on the table' regarding world bank president Paul Wolfowitz, and 'it is an open question' whether he should remain as president of world bank. The New York Times has picked this up, saying the White House has "shifted course" and opened the door today to him resigning voluntarily as World Bank president if the bank board drops its drive to declare him unfit to remain in office. This offer has been made in a teleconference between finance ministries in the USA, Europe and Japan. Apparently, the offer was rejected.

A Bank official explaints to the NYT: “The odds of this flying are very, very low,” said a senior bank official, speaking anonymously about sensitive internal discussions. “It is too little, too late. It might have been possible a day or two ago, but not after he was found guilty as charged of a whole slew of violations.”

I agree. As I argued in an article on Eurodad's website earlier today the Europeans should toughen their position, and demand that the anti-corruption crusader falls on his sword. In return, as negotiation will be required the Europeans should offer to forego appointing the next head of the IMF.

A devastating Guardian editorial today reminds readers of Europe's complicity in the gentleman's agreement which stitches up the heads of the Bank and Fund respectively. The Guardian leader points out that "Europe has resisted any change of this cosy arrangement for retiring politicians." Now is the time.

Alex Wilks ~ May 16, 2007

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