Wolfowitz is the wrong choice for the World Bank

03/30/05

Editorial: A wolf in sheep's clothing BMJ Volume 330 p 744

The nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank is the wrong choice and should be rejected, says an editorial in this week's BMJ.

Wolfowitz's reputation as the chief mover for the war on Iraq a development disaster sits uncomfortably with a job whose main role is multilateral international development, writes Kamran Abbasi, BMJ Deputy Editor. Many countries that Wolfowitz will be required to help are critical of America's war on Iraq and its motives.

But is this to misjudge Wolfowitz? Does he fit in with the World Bank in a way that is not immediately obvious?

Following his reputation as "the leading neoconservative hawk in George Bush's regime" Wolfowitz has begun by saying that his focus will be on economics, not politics. But he must achieve effectiveness through sound, evidence informed, policy making not brazen ideology, says Abbasi.

In the end, the Wolfowitz situation boils down to how the United States wants to be perceived by the world. His nomination, and that of John Bolton as US ambassador to the United Nations, has done little more than reinforce concerns that the current US administration is hell bent on disseminating its political ideology through control of international and non-governmental organisations. This is an abuse of power. Wolfowitz has some merits, but not enough to justify his appointment, he argues.

"He may well be skilled at managing a large organisation, but his is an inflammatory nomination to head the world's most influential multilateral development organisation, a post that requires acute political sensitivity and cultural awareness. His is a nomination that the World Bank's executive board would do well to reject," he concludes.

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