Wolfowitz on Libby: Good Man who knew he was breaking the law

In this insightful Salon.com piece on Bush administration figures who’ve written in support of former Cheney advisor Lewis “Scooter” Libby (you have to go through their ‘click on sponsor’ page), Sydney Blumenthal offers this damning insight on the lengthiest of those letters of support, written by World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz: Continue reading

“A cavalier interest in developing countries” – Jagdish Bhagwati

One of the best pieces yet on Zoellick’s time at CSIS and as US trade representative.  Bizarrely, liberal economist Jagdish Bhagwati has accused Zoellick of pushing free trade at the expense of development: “He was using bilateral deals with Chile and Singapore to try to ram through restrictions on the use of capital controls,” Bhagwati says. “I can’t think of a single developmental economist who would say this is a good idea, and it suggests a cavalier interest in developing countries.”

Zoellick in Ghana, Ethiopia.

Zoellick started the first leg of his African trip in Ghana on Wednesday. Ghanaian newspapers reported that Zoellick met with the ministers of finance of Ghana, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso and “discussed not countries but regional dimension of projects such as the West African Gas Pipeline“. While in Ghana he also met with vice president Alhaji Aliu Mahama, energy minister John Adda, chairman of the public utilities regulation commission, Kwame Pianim, and with some civil society organisations, “all behind closed doors”. Continue reading

Deeper Questions about Pay and Rations at the World Bank

OK, confession time. I grew up in a World Bank household. My mother started working there when I was two; my father joined the International Finance Corporation when I was four. As a child I heard snippets of conversation about West African travels and poverty around the world. I also picked up talk of “golden handshakes” and benefits such as my own private school education being subsidized by the Bank. At some later point, I hope to capture a lot of these contradictions in a book. At the moment, it’s worthwhile asking whether these benefits and high salaries are necessary for an institution that claims to be about “poverty reduction”. In this article, Wolfowitz’s Golden Parachute, I look at Wolfowitz’s attempt to take these policies to an extreme, and argue that it’s time to end the hypocrisy.

Environmental ‘hero’?

Steve Clemons on The Washington Note blog writes that “Zoellick was one of the ‘heroes’ who got the US government to sign on to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Zoellick headed the US effort and was the guide for EPA Administrator William Reilly through that effort. Clemons adds that he has spoken with “a number of environmental leaders at organisations such as the World Resources Institute who have said that Zoellick has been actively engaged with them – from the early 1990s up until now”. Cue that panda photo.

Zoellick appointment “grotesque” – Bachelet.

South Africa’s Independent Online reports that Chilean president Michelle Bachelet criticised the decision by the US administration to nominate yet another American to head the World Bank as “grotesque”. South African president Thabo Mbeki is also quoted as saying at the International Monetary Conference (a gathering of the world’s top officials from private and central banks) on the weekend that “future appointments should be made using an open and transparent selection process with candidates not restricted by nationality.” Continue reading

Four Questions for Bob Zoellick

Lawrence MacDonald at the Center for Global Development has some insightful questions for Bob Zoellick. Among them (mine are the abridged versions): Will you oppose U.S. subsidies and the enforcemet of Intellectual Property Rights for lifesaving medicines? Will you go continue moving the Bank’s health sector towards Bush’s inane abstinence only policies? Continue reading