Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, May 18, 2007

Run That By Us Again

I take the headline of this post from today's take the headline of this post from today's WSJ editorial on the Paul Wolfowitz resignation because I am as confused as they on the whole matter.

Take this, for example, from the World Bank's statement following the hearing that lead to Wolfowitz' resignation:
Our deliberations were greatly assisted by our discussion with Mr Wolfowitz. He assured us that he acted ethically and in good faith in what he believed were the best interests of the institution, and we accept that.
Help me understand how that constitutes a basis for forcing a guy out of his job. Perhaps it wasn't about this ethics skirmish at all; perhaps it was about poor performance. Then why this:
We are grateful to Mr. Wolfowitz for his service at the Bank. Much has been achieved in the last two years, including the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, the Clean Energy Investment Framework, the Africa Action Plan, and the Avian Flu Initiative. 2006 was a record year for IDA lending, especially in Africa. The Bank has launched emergency action programmes in Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, and played a key role in the Lebanon and Afghanistan donors conference. In March, after an unprecedented global consultation process, we adopted a new strategy for the Bank's work on Governance and Anti-Corruption.

And we have new strategies for Rapid Response in Fragile States, for the Health Sector and for the Financial Sector. We thank Mr Wolfowitz for his leadership and for championing the Bank's work across so many areas.
The World Bank is an archaic institution, left behind technologically and operationally by the private sector banks. It is bloated and corrupt; Wolfowitz was perhaps guilty of one thing: being too deliberate in his reform efforts. The bank's staff could see what was coming: Tougher ethics rules, performance reviews, firings and layoffs.

That is why the staff's statement is the only straightforward one of the bunch:

While Mr. Wolfowitz has finally done the necessary thing by resigning, he has damaged the institution and continues to damage it every day that he remains as its President. He cannot continue to be the face of the World Bank. He has demeaned the Bank, insulted the staff, diminished its clients, and dragged this institution through the mud. He put his own interests before those of the institution. In making a statement of gratitude to Mr. Wolfowitz, the Board has done the same. They have attempted to save his face and in so doing have destroyed that of the institution that they are entrusted to protect.

The World Bank Group needs to rebuild its credibility immediately, regain its focus and devote its full attention to its clients. This cannot be done while Mr. Wolfowitz remains in his position as President.

Run that by us again. It sounds an awful lot like a triumphant bully; a chorus of spoiled brats who need another slap upside the head; a pot calling the kettle black. Their attack on the Board for its handling of the matter is a marker, a challenge that the next president best not tangle with them.

Well. Now it's up to President Bush to nominate a new World Bank president. May I humbly suggest that he name someone who will insult the staff and continue the organization's well-deserved dragging through the mud?