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Slate Magazine Quotes Atlantic Review

In his blogosphere round-up for Slate Magazine, quoted my brief commentary on Wolfowitz and the US right to appoint the World Bank president.

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alec on :

Congrats and keep up. It's looking more and more likely that Wolfowitz will resign but only after negotiations between the White House and EU. Does the irony of a supposed international body having it's leadership secretly negotiated by Western nations strike anyone else here?

Zyme on :

Not at all - North America and Europe are responsible for the majority of trade world wide after all.

Don S on :

The leader may be negociated by governments - but a bloated, overpaid, and quite possibly corrupt staff has just interposed a delayed veto on the appointment. It was cheers and champagne flutes all around at bank headquarters last night or so I'm told. I think an appropriate response would be a 30% cut in the Bank's $1 billion administrative budget for next year. Toast that!

Pat Patterson on :

I'm with Zyme here and might also suggest that it would be very strange if any bank, public, private or government agency selected its leaders on the votes of the debtors.

Ulrich Speck on :

Jörg, congratulations. Next time it will be the Washington Post.

mike on :

This is all quite unfair. The report of the experts against Wolfowitz acuses him of not being aware of the Staff Rules and Code of Conduct. Not only are these thousands of pages long each, no staff member of the Bank has ever read them! If the rules were to be applied as zealously to every staff member and mamanger decision, half of them would loose their job. Ultimately things work by convention, and if the ethics committee gives the go ahead, ahead you go. Period. The ad hoc groups shold have also investigated the actions of ethics committee. Frankly, this is all a political manouver by disaffected staff who did not want changes to status quo. Pathetic. I think it will stop short if Bush threatens to nominate John Bolton as successor.

bob on :

I'm with Zyme above. The parceling out of national sinecures in the founding organs of hte post-cold war order will not change. Look at the endless discussion of SC seats and all that blathering a couple years ago; nothing happened because the interested parties are deeply fearful of institutional change, which sua sponte can gather momentum and spread to the UN. Besides, any Euro diplomat with any semblence of political nous about American politics would recognize that attempting to reform international institutions would be a gift topic for the Republican candidates and a very problematic one for the Democrats.

David on :

Well done, Joerg. When will you appear on "Larry King Live"?

David on :

Wolfowitz Out. Bye bye Wolfie. Next: Abu Gonzales.

Zyme on :

I don´t like Wolfowitz either because of his political history and stance. But I just don´t understand your attitude - you are american! Regardless of his actions in foreing policy, he seems to have been a strong advocate of american interests. How can you cheer at the loss of such a figure, which will most likely be replaced with someone who will put more emphasis on international cooperation and less on american interests? (which is the main reason why I approve his withdrawal)

Don S on :

Zyme, It's hard to understand - but in the US Democrats have been sending republicans to jail (or seeking to) since the 1970's. The one time the GOP responded in kind is infamous of course - Clinton. But what is often misunderstood among Europeans is that what was tried upon Clinton was and is routine behavior from many Democrats.

David on :

Don - that is simple: many republicans are corrupt and break the law. Taking kickbacks on huge defense contracts (Duke Cunningham) is breaking the law. The whole Jack Abramoff affair exposed the deep corruption in the republican party.

alec on :

What about Australia, Canada, Japan, China, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Kuwait, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Iceland? .... By the way, the largest donator per capita is Japan, FYI.

Pat Patterson on :

But since voting in the World Bank is determined by the amount of shares owned then per capita is meaningless. How comfortable would anybody be if the country with only 8% of the stock votes weighed more than a country with twice as many shares?

Anonymous on :

I agree - from what I've read about the case so far (although that's admittedly not very much), I don't see that he would have done anything wrong. The original accusation was that he did act against the ethics committee's recommendation. For all I know, this has turned out not to be true. Still, the question remains: Is it really a good idea to keep a World Bank president who clearly is not only met with a lack of support, but with downright enmity from so many of the employees? I mean, when he tried to read out a statement in front of them, they booed him away! Yes, it is not fair, and it surely is sad for Wolfowitz personally - but then again: Why should we care? Our interest is that the World Bank is run effieciently, and I don't see how Wolfowitz could ever do this now. It's just like in a company or in the military: When you have a team leader who obviously doesn't connect with the team at all, then it doesn't really matter whether it's his "fault" or not - what counts is the fact that he can't be an efficient leader. Tough luck. Granted, there are cases where it makes sense to bring in the new boss who sets a new course and pretty much is hated by everybody - but I don't see that that's the case here. There are plenty of other (American) candidates who could do the job just as well as Wolfowitz, but without having to do it in a constand infight with the staff.

bob on :

Why does the Wolfowitz affair matter? It matters because this appears to be another pointless instance of European perifidity and the appropriating of an international institution for national political considerations. Could you disagree with Wolfowitz's plans for the WB? Sure, but nothing Wolfie has done or planned to do legitimizies this putsch. I have not seen the documents that the WSJ refers to and until then I will restrain judgement; however, if the WSJ is correct this is a provocation of the first order. I would expect bureaucratic rather than party-based responses. However if Hiliary or Thompson gain the Presidency that might change. The Americans forced the Brits to dismantle the Empire when they decided that it was incompatible with their world vision. If European politicians in international institutions keep throwing spanner after spanner into the works, American foreign policy will be forced to re-evaluate the advisability of the political culture that created them. In the last 7 years, the greatest American foreign policy defeats/humiliations have come at the hands of Europeans, not the ChiComs or Russians. People will and some already have assigned blame to the European project. American support for the European project was predicated on the working assumption that relations would be expedited, more transparent and predictable. The opposite has happened. Politicans are playing on three levels: national, EU level and internationally. They also have the ability to justify or defend their actions by appealing to their detractors on any of the three levels. Its the German Parliament of the 1850s. Dont be surprised if the Saudis "unilaterally" set up a legal fund for persecuted European muslims or the diplomatic impetus for the trans Caucus pipeline dries up.

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