Not Much to Say About Wolfowitz

As you must surely know, Paul Wolfowitz has resigned his position as the head of the World Bank. This New York Times article on the infighting at the World Bank that led to his fall from grace is pretty fair, I think.

Clearly, Mr. Wolfowitz was already damaged goods, tarred by the war in Iraq, when he came to the Bank and his career, policies, resume, and style must have rankled other top managers there. Everything I’ve heard about the man suggests that he was a sonuvagun and, if a striped pants, dovetailed coat type with social graces was what was called for, he was probably the wrong man for the job.

Lost in the plaints of politics, infighting, personalities, and ethical lapses of the appearances thereof in the coverage and reactions to this story has been whether the direction he was trying to move the World Bank in was good or bad. I’d like to hear more about that, please.


FT quotes the statement from the Bank’s board:

The board said “at the same time it is clear from this material a number of mistakes were made by a number of individuals in handling the matter under consideration, and that the bank’s systems did not prove robust to the strain.”

That would seem to support my belief that, if ethical lapses are actually the reason for Wolfowitz’s departure from the Bank, that others at the Bank should go as well. My suspicion is that it’s not solely the ethical lapses but also that he didn’t play well with the other children.

2 comments… add one
  • From the NYT
    Bank officials critical of Mr. Wolfowitz acknowledge that he has concentrated considerable energy on Africa and received praise from African leaders, but they also accuse him of cynically trying to rally Africans dependent on his good will in recent weeks, as criticism of his leadership has mounted.

    Several bank officials, asking not to be identified in order to avoid reprisals, charged that Mr. Wolfowitz was seeking backing from Africa as a kind of political base to counter the growing resentment among European leaders over his policies, particularly his anticorruption campaign.

    The bank’s board acts as a kind of legislature setting policies as an equal weight with the president, and in some ways Mr. Wolfowitz’s time in office has resembled a tug of war between two branches of government.

    Andrew Young wrote a defense of Wolfowitz in the WaPo. (The NY Times about the same time had an op-ed from an African finance minister. IIRC)

    My guess is that he sought to rock the boat, and the powers that be wouldn’t stand for it. (Maybe they thought they had something to lose.) Certainly that’s the view of WSJ. The WaPo today blamed both sides. It’s just that it seem to me that the WaPo had the same information as the WSJ, and interpreted differently.

  • If you follow the FT reporting – which is far better informed as to Wolfowitz’s positioning in the financial world – you’ll find plenty of description as to his poor managerial skills. Or you can engage in navel gazing, comme vous voulez.

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