Charities' horror over new head of World Bank
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Charities' horror over new head of World Bank

London Evening Standard | March 17, 2005

British aid charities today attacked "truly terrifying" plans to appoint George Bush's leading hawk on Iraq as the head of the World Bank.

Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy US defence secretary and the man credited with dreaming up the war against Saddam Hussein, was nominated by President Bush for the top job last night.

But because the World Bank controls billions of pounds of aid to the Third World, the move was greeted with anger among development agencies and anti-poverty groups.

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Former international development secretary Clare Short said the proposed appointment was "two fingers to the world" and urged European countries to veto it.

A senior source within a British aid agency, on condition of anonymity, said: "This is truly terrifying."

Mr Wolfowitz, 61, is the leading "neo conservative" in the Bush administration.

He was previously US ambassador to Indonesia and served in the administration of Mr Bush's father during the 1991 Gulf war.


Bush nominates Wolfowitz to head World Bank

AFX | March 16, 2005

WASHINGTON - President Bush nominated Paul Wolfowitz, the top deputy of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, to head the World Bank

"I think Paul will be a strong president of the World Bank," Bush said Wednesday. "He is a skilled diplomat. Paul is committed to development. He is a compassionate, decent man, who will do a fine job in the World Bank." Under a tradition in place since World War II, the U.S. has been able to nominate the World Bank chief while the International Monetary Fund has been headed by a European. This unofficial agreement has come under increasing criticism from Asia and developing nations

Wolfowitz would succeed World Bank President James Wolfensohn, a former investment banker, who is leaving the post after 10 years in office

In a statement, the World Bank's board confirmed it had received the Wolfowitz nomination

"The executive directors of the board, who are charged under the Bank's Articles of Agreement with the selection of the Bank's President, are in the process of consultations with the member countries they represent. An official announcement of the outcome of the deliberations and actions of the Executive Directors will be made as soon as a decision has been reached," the board said

When the possible nomination of Wolfowitz was first floated, there was some immediate criticism from Europe

But one expert said he didn't think the nomination would be blocked, even though there is lingering resentment from the Clinton administration opposition to the European candidate, German Deputy Finance Minister Caio Koch-Weiser, to head the IMF in 2000

While there is "rather limited" enthusiasm for the Wolfowitz nomination in European capitals, there aren't likely to be efforts to stop the nomination, said Dieter Dettke, executive director of the Washington office of the Freidrich Ebert Foundation

"It would open up a totally new front and I don't know whether that is worthwhile. They will give him a chance," Dettke said

The guessing game about who would succeed Wolfensohn veered from celebrity corporate executives to just plain celebrities

Irish rock star and activist Bono and former Hewlett-Packard () Chief Executive Carly Fiorina were named as possible World Bank chiefs, as was Treasury Undersecretary John Taylor and former Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Christine Todd Whitman

Wolfowitz is one of the leading neoconservative foreign policy experts who have had widespread influence over Bush Administration policies. Wolfowitz has become a lightening rod for critics of the war in Iraq

Before joining the Defense Department, Wolfowitz served as dean at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University

During the Reagan Administration, he served as U.S. ambassador to Indonesia

 "His term as ambassador to Indonesia taught him a lot about development. My personal sense is he got the idea of what a liberal Muslim society would look like by working in Indonesia. I honestly think he is going to surprise people and turn out to be quite effective," said Peter Timmer, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development

Reaction to the Wolfowitz nomination was muted among non-governmental organizations

Oxfam International critized the "gentleman's agreement" that allows U.S. to name the World Bank chief

"There is an urgent need to reform the selection process: governments should abolish the unspoken 'gentlemen's agreement' whereby the U.S. picks the World Bank president, and the Europeans the IMF managing director. The president should be chosen through an open and transparent selection process, strictly on the basis of their merits and their capacity to do the job," said Bernice Romero, advocacy director of Oxfam International

The U.S. has been seeking to make the World Bank more of a grant-making institution instead of a traditional lending bank. These ideas, put forward in a report by Alan Meltzer, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. The proposals are now expected to gain more traction

Analysts also said the Wolfowitz nomination would allow the new Iraqi government to receive aid from the World Bank and IMF. IMF Managing Director Rodrigo Rato issued a statement saying he looked forward to working with Wolfowitz


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