Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A "Proven Leader" For The World Bank?

Wolfowitz Magoo, originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

You May As Well Let Mr. Magoo Run The World Bank According To Me, Michael Lind And Other Worried People!

The press release on Paul Wolfowitzs’ nomination for president of the World Bank calls him a proven leader. Hmm. Proven leader. I agree.

He is a proven leader.

He is a proven leader at guessing wrong for the thirty years of his entire public career. Michael Lind called him the “Mozart of ineptitude, the Einstein of incapacity.” Europeans are reacting to him with surprise and shock at Bush’s lack of consultation according to the Financial Times:

“The lack of consultation before the announcement meant that European governments - who collectively hold about 30 per cent of the votes on the bank's executive board to the US's 17 per cent - were slow to react. ‘There are going to be a lot of very unhappy people, but they may be as upset about the process as about the person,’ said one European official. ‘They were supposed to consult us and there was no consultation.’”

The Times also feels that Wolfowitzs’ nomination, if successful would make life for the World Bank in the Middle East quite miserable. And why is that?

Michael Lind in my opinion provides a very good answer. Wolfowitz according to him is not an evil man, just not necessarily clued in to reality, but full of vim, vigor, and what is the road to hell paved with? Good intentions, tunnel vision and nearsightedness! Lind likens Wolfowitz to an old classic cartoon character Mr. Magoo:

“Wolfowitz is the Mr. Magoo of American foreign policy. Like the myopic cartoon character, Wolfowitz stumbles onward blindly and serenely, leaving wreckage and confusion behind.”

In the late eighties Wolfowitz was involved very heavily in the old right canard that only a unilateral approach to the Soviet Union would win us the Cold War, an attitude that most of our allies rebelled against so strongly that Bush Sr. and Secretary of State James Baker had to disavow themselves of it. When Bush Sr. made war, he made certain that the U.S. position was well enhanced by a coalition of 15 nations before he invaded Iraq. Bush Sr. never allowed the consensus of nations to be lost by us. The Clinton administration was wise enough to see that in a post Soviet Europe, nothing could possibly be accomplished on the foreign stage without the help of our allies, and so always sought a solid coalition for any venture that they would endeavor, and always maintained a crucial respect for the United Nations. Indeed, one can say that it was through the United Nations that true disarmament of Iraq was achieved. Clinton, with Madeline Albrights’ help managed to bring about the delicate achievement of Russias’ disarmament process.

That all changed when Bush Jr. came into office. After September 11th under the influence of the neocons and most notably Mr. Wolfowitz, the emphasis shifted to the disastrous policy of the warlike unilateral tunnel-visioned single-mindedness we now have. The result is, what allies we have left feel alienated, our enemies’ anti-American messages are given credence, our military might is stretched beyond its capabilities, and we have lost the image of our unique and legendary military power.

According to Lind, this two-fisted approach makes us the Dorian Grays of the world, where we look like the enemy we are fighting:

“At least Wolfowitz and his neoconservative allies have been consistent. Since the Cold War ended, they have exaggerated American power in the same way that they exaggerated Soviet power during the Cold War. As if to prove the old adage that people come to resemble their enemies, these former cold warriors treat the United States as a twin of the Soviet Union -- a military empire contemptuous of international law, with satellites instead of allies, justifying wars in its spheres of influence by appeals to ideology ("democracy" rather than "socialism"). In the form of the concentration camps for detainees in Cuba, Iraq and elsewhere run by Donald Rumsfeld's and Wolfowitz's Pentagon, the neoconservatives even provided the United States with a gulag of its own.”

And so blissfully myopic Mr. Magoo had decided long before September 11th, that to bring order to the post Cold War world the United States would have to project unparalleled power, and without giving the world so much as a by your leave. Yet he did not realize that the real threat to the United States was not Saddam’s depleted Iraq, but al Qaeda. It was after all al Qaeda that attacked us on September 11th, not Iraq. And so when the war on terror broke out, Wolfowitz and the neocons made the crucial mistake of assuming that Iraq would be the chief threat to American war aims. And so, like another famous myopic mind, Inspector Clouseau, Wolfowitz & Co (including Bush Jr.) ignored the real villain under their nose, (al Qaeda), and went after the imagined villain – Iraq.

He told us that the occupation of Iraq would pay for itself through oil. Oil was to be the savior of the neocons’ dreams in the Middle East since it would prove that the Middle East could pay for it’s own democratization with little or no added cost to the U.S. taxpayer. And so, doing everything on the cheap, the Defense Department decided to sent too few troops in to hold Iraq, inadequately armed and armored, with a “coalition” of questionable sincerity and value, neglected to occupy and control key points of security, and allowed a well armed insurgency to grow that now threatens to instigate a civil war. Every day American, and Iraqi lives are lost, the civilians can’t even turn on a lamp or a faucet and the one thing that actually got some security, the oil infrastructure is inoperable.

The oil spigot is turned off.

Now, for the third time, Bush Jr. has asked for more than $80 billion, (this time $100 billion) for a loan. Got any spare change?

The results are that Wolfowitzs’ ideas have wasted the lives of 1500 Americans, 100,000 Iraqi civilians, and untold billions of dollars on a venture that has had shaky results at best, and instead of destroying al Qaeda, has allowed it to mutate to a more virulent strain, and gave it all of Iraq for a boot camp, along with free weapons and ammo! Laurel & Hardy would be proud!

And this is the man George W. Bush wishes to have as president of the World Bank.

Most World Bank partners, notably western European countries, are completely dismayed and dumbfounded by this choice. According to the Financial Times:

“Privately, European officials in Washington and bank staff have expressed concern that the US would put forward such a controversial candidate for the post. One concern is that his appointment would make it more difficult for the World Bank to operate effectively in the Middle East.

Many development campaigners were in no doubt. ‘We consider the choice of Wolfowitz utterly inappropriate to lead such a key institution,’ said Jeff Powell, co-ordinator of the Bretton Woods Project, a watchdog non-governmental organization. ‘This appointment will only serve to confirm suspicions that the World Bank is a tool of US foreign policy.’ "

The World Bank already suffers from a reputation of being a corporate tool that erodes national sovereignty.

A pity, because it has many good things to recommend it. The WB does represent an effort to fight poverty worldwide, and I believe that some kind of globalization is inevitable. We are more and more a global village by virtue of the global infrastructure. Next follows global interaction, cultural exchange and the entailing foreign trade and global investment. Global investment requires a global financial system. Someone has to manage that system so that everyone is treated fairly, according to international law. Someone has to manage it so that neocolonialism is not ascendant.

And that is something the World Bank must be very sensitive too. The attitude that free-market capitalism will lift all boats is full of leaks when the WB supports dictators and disastrous efforts at social engineering. The WB and its’ sister organization the IMF are accused of overzealously enforcing extraordinarily stringent standards, inordinately friendly to private business, in a policy so uniform and as to erode the sovereignty of nations. A wonderful way to control a country.

Nominating Wolfowitz does not improve the WBs’ image. In fact it only confirms anti-American suspicions. America is the largest WB member, and traditionally the president of the WB is an American. Now Bush could have picked someone far more acceptable to the rest of the world who could still have represented Americas’ interests like Christine Todd Whitman, a former state governor who proved herself a wizard at management. Wolfowitzs’ nomination only serves to confirm that George W. Bush simply wants his man to control the WB, and hence the economy of many third world countries.

Many people fear that if Wolfowitz is chosen as president the WB would be used as another weapon in the “war on terror”. The World Bank is supposed to be apolitical.

Financial Times - Shareholders' dismay at lack of consultation - Mr. Magoo goes to the World Bank

Wikipedia - World Bank

Wikipedia - Globalization

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