Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wolf at the door

The saga of Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank continues. Yes there has been misunderstanding, but the underlying problem is politicization. Some of this was generated by Wolfowitz, some of it from the favoritism allowed to the US government and its stranglehold insistence on deciding who can be the World Bank President.

Many definitive statements can be seen at:
http://www.bicusa.org/en/Article.3302.aspx

Quoting from the above report (by Bank Information Center, a 'watchdog' organization), perhaps the statements by former World Bank General Counsel Roberto Dañino are most condemnatory:
  • Dañino: "PW [Wolfowitz] acted incorrectly, not only providing the additional benefits discussed...above, but also by trying to blame the Board, the EC, the General Counsel and the VPHR (Vice President of Human Resources) when these actions became public. It is only after the inaccurate assertions of PW or his spokespersons were denied by the affected parties and when PW's express instructions in writing became public, that PW admitted he had made a mistake.
  • Dañino: "In my opinion, the matter presents not merely questions of legal compliance but also - and more importantly - questions about the moral authority of the Bank's President and the confidence he commands from the Bank's own staff and around the world. I believe that PW made serious substantive errors by providing unauthorized benefits to a person with whom he had a relationship that created a conflict of interest...He then failed to disclose these actions and later blamed them on others, apparently trying to deceive the board, the staff and the general public. He or his spokespersons falsely suggested that his actions had been approved by the Board, the EC, the GC and/or the VPHR. Later statements have charged his accusers with political motivations. In my judgment, these actions and statements have badly hurt the morale of the staff, damaged the reputation of the Bank, and eroded his moral authority to lead the Bank."

Maybe there was misunderstanding and miscommunication. But there also seems a try to steamroller underlings and summarily to stifle criticism.

At least Wolfowitz has done the world a service by highlighting the anti-democratic dimensions of how the World Bank President is appointed.

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