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13 January 2007


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Rumours that Wolfowitz had isolated himself from the usual sources of advise within the Bank had been circulating for some time now. Though retired officials would be reluctant to openly point out his management style - i.e. ignoring those with subject matter and years of expertise - because it would cut-off any potential extra income from contract work but people do talk privately evn if it is sometimes guarded. I wonder why Bloomberg has now reported the story. Maybe the string of "ideological" appointments has just become too obvious to ignore even for a conventional wire-service.

Green Zone Cafe

I wouldn't necessarily put the blame on Wolfie, whatever his past mistakes were.

The World Bank is a notoriously fat and self-serving bureaucracy. Only recently did they downgrade all of their official air travel from first class to business class. Their offices in Washington are opulent, their salaries generous.

There are many dedicated professionals in the World Bank who are truly dedicated to fostering development, but have found themselves thwarted by its bureaucracy.

These bureaucracies, not just in the World Bank, but also in the UN and USAID are paralyzed by a risk-aversion, even when it comes to proposing initiatives, let alone implementing them in a place like Baghdad.

As one such USAID bureaucrat in the Green Zone once said to me "If you make a proposal, you become a target." I practically exploded that the soldiers rolling out the gate everyday were the real targets, protecting us, and that the least we could do is attempt some forward motion.

Last year, the WB had one representative in Baghdad, maybe a couple of subordinate staffers. The IMF has been involved in a few trips and by developing guidelines for economic reform in Iraq.

If the development of Iraq is important, isn't Wolfie right that the WB should do more? And couldn't the resistance by the WB Middle East staff be some sort of politically-motivated foot-dragging?


pangloss : It could also mark the moment the World Bank's established staff decided to start dealing with the issue publicly rather than privately.


this is interesting and ties together a few threads. Maybe it's just bull from Bob Novak from the Bull City, chicago Sun-Times columnist.


"John Negroponte was leaving .... he informed one Republican senator that he did not want to make the switch but that the White House prevailed on him. "


"But to pull him out just as his on-the-job training as director had been completed reflects a panicky desire to fill the deputy secretary's post that had been unfilled for an unprecedented six months."


"Republicans in Congress, who do not want to be quoted, tell me the State Department under Secretary Condoleezza Rice is a mess. "

" The deputy's post went to Robert Zoellick .... wanted to become World Bank president, but that job was filled by the embattled Paul Wolfowitz, "

" Estranged from Zoellick, Rice relied for advice on Burns and State Department Counselor Philip Zelikow. A former Foreign Service officer and brilliant University of Virginia professor, Zelikow was near the top of the arrogance scale in a building where arrogance is the norm, "


Tale has it that Wolfie came in 'all american exec style', that is bringing with him a handful of loyalists. The way he brought them has 'stretched' the world banks employment rules: He simply appointed them or wanted to, ignoring the staffing rules of the organisation.


Wether out of ignorance or indifference, it's a bad start, and means inviting trouble.


The over-arching question is how did this sorry gang of clueless, fanatical, lethal wimps get so many hands on so very many levers of power.

The next question is how can this be prevented hereafter.

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