Thursday, March 17, 2005

Support for Wolfowitz

The Washington Post ran a very fair editorial today about the nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to be President of the World Bank. Here are the first two paragraphs:

President Bush's nomination of Paul D. Wolfowitz as World Bank president has raised predictable hackles, at home and abroad. As deputy defense secretary, Mr. Wolfowitz has been a prime architect of the administration's Iraq policy and is seen as the personification of the "neoconservatism" that is little understood and yet much criticized all over the world. But this hostility is mostly unjustified. Mr. Wolfowitz is the best qualified of all the recently rumored candidates for the World Bank job. He has been a valued member of the Bush administration; by selecting him rather than a peripheral figure, Mr. Bush is showing that he understands the World Bank's importance. The bank's leading shareholders -- principally the Japanese and Europeans -- should welcome Mr. Wolfowitz's nomination, not use their positions on the World Bank's board to obstruct it.

Unlike several of his predecessors, Mr. Wolfowitz would come to the World Bank presidency with real knowledge of development. He served as U.S. ambassador to Indonesia in the late 1980s, when that country was one of the World Bank's biggest clients and a poverty-reduction success story. Mr. Wolfowitz is also a persuasive communicator, an essential quality in the leader of an institution that is frequently attacked by ideologues on both the left and the right. And Mr. Wolfowitz has experience as a public-sector manager. The World Bank is an unwieldy, 10,000-strong bureaucracy. Mr. Wolfowitz's stint as No. 2 at the Pentagon should have prepared him for that.

International development is a swamp of conflicting theories with many diverse players, all of them with different ideas on how to do things. The World Bank is one of the biggest and most influential of these players. With Wolfowitz at the helm, I think there's real potential for the Bank to do a better job itself in development and to provide needed leadership for others in the development community.


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