alien & sedition.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
  More on Wolfowitz

Wolfy's defenders are circling the wagons. The Wall Street Journal insists that "this flap is a political hit based on highly selective leaks to a willfully gullible press corps." According to the Journal, the Bank's files on the affair reveal that its own ethics committee recommended the promotion and pay raise, then hung Wolfowitz out to dry., on the other hand, says that this explanation still leaves crucial questions unanswered. Why was the pay raise granted to Riza significantly higher than what was called for under the Bank's own guidelines? Why does Wolfowitz's spokesman claim the Board of Directors approved the raise when the Board itself denies this? And why, if Wolfowitz did nothing wrong, did he admit wrongdoing?

Meanwhile, at the New Republic, Michael Currie Schaffer points out that Wolfowitz's alleged corruption completely undermines his own stated intent of "reforming" the World Bank's lending process:
[I]magine you're the poor schlub who serves as the Bank's representative in one of those impoverished, not-part-of-the-war-on-terrorism African countries that Wolfowitz has so vocally championed. Here in this sweaty, distant posting, you've been funneling loans to the country for things like rural electrification. But there's a problem: The minister for public works has been skimming 10 percent from all the contracts. His deputy gets another 5 percent. And so on and so forth, until all the country has to show for its electrification debts are a few gangly power lines that don't even work most of the time. So now you're paying him a visit in the finance ministry to chat.... As a servant pours you a cup of coffee--grown on the plantation the minister somehow managed to buy during a Bank-promoted privatization in the late 1990s--you read him the riot act.

Now, in light of the allegations swirling around the Bank's anticorruptionist-in-chief, just how likely is it that your message will get through? It's far more likely that it will be understood as more empty rhetoric.... As you drone on, the minister may well be wondering why it is that, if you're so smart, you're counting electric poles in his godforsaken country rather than hooking your own girlfriend up with a sweet job back in D.C. If he's a polite sort, maybe he furrows his brow and promises to thoroughly examine your allegations as you wind up your lecture. As soon as he gets back from a holiday trip to Brussels, of course. So much for ending corruption.
Once again, the cartoon superhero turns out to be disastrously incompetent in the real world.

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