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La Nacion, Chile

The Intolerable Wolfowitz

 

"He contaminated the World Bank with his favoritism and the imposition of politics that were used to eliminate his adversaries. It's intolerable that he didn't resign sooner."

 

By Raúl Sohr

 

Translated By Halszka Czarnocka

 

May 18, 2007

 

Chile - La Nacion - Original Article (Spanish)

A tacit agreement exists between Europeans and Americans: The former own the presidency of the International Monetary Fund, the latter - of the World Bank. So there's nothing strange in the fact that White House has a virtual lock on naming the person who directs the destiny of the World Bank. In recent times, its policy has been to encourage privatization and economic liberalization.

 

As for Paul Wolfowitz, who will remain the Bank's President until June 30, 2007 (the date his resignation becomes effective), Washington is quite right to point out that his appointment created apprehension in some and open rejection in others. After all, a neo-conservative from the Pentagon which was Donald Rumsfeld's deputy secretary and is responsible for the invasion of Iraq, doesn't exactly fit the image of a humanitarian concerned with the development of world’s most backward countries, which is what one might expect for the post.

 

If his ideology was questionable, his reputation left even more to be desired. In the corridors of power in Washington, Wolfowitz was known for his ambition and constant struggles with those he considered his adversaries. Smear campaigns were an important part of his arsenal. One of his victims was Secretary of State Colin Powell.

 

Having arrived at the World Bank, he began to pontificate against the corruption, nepotism and favoritism practiced in poor nations. So what did he do? Did he establish open competition for positions in the Bank or promote officials already in the Bank? No. Instead he named acquaintances and mostly American confidants with beliefs compatible with his own. With a quarter of million dollar salary, he brought with him Kevin Kellems - who knew little about development. What Kellem handled was communications: He was Communications Director and Spokesman for Vice-President Dick Cheney. In that capacity, he sold the spurious theory that Osama bin Laden and Sadam Hussein were partners in the fight against the United States.

 

Another person that Wolfowitz brought with him was Juan Daboub, whose resumé includes active participation in various right-wing governments of El Salvador. And this one was also in charge of erasing all references to family planning programs and contraception.

 

Such abuses and nepotism reached a climax with Shaha Ali Riza, Wolfowitz’ girlfriend. Their relationship was disclosed at the time of his nomination as President of the Bank. She had been working at this institution since the beginning of the 1990s.

 

Bank rules of the Bank didn’t allow for Wolfowitz, as Riza’s boss, to fix her salary. So as an answer to this, he had her transferred to the U.S. State Department's Middle East Section under the direction of Elizabeth Cheney, the Vice President’s daughter. In that position he made certain that Riza received a salary higher than her boss, Condoleezza Rice. After she returned to the Bank, the Bank's employee association revealed that Riza’s salary increases were more than twice those allowed under the rules. [Riza has issued a statement to the Bank's Board of directors about this episode ].

 

Wolfowitz is one of the principal actors responsible for triggering the most disastrous war in recent times. It is a conflict that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of Americans, along with ruining one of the most prosperous countries in the Middle East.

 

As if that wasn't enough, he contaminated the World Bank with his favoritism and the imposition of politics that were used to eliminate his adversaries. It's intolerable that he didn't resign sooner. But even more disturbing is the support that President George W. Bush offered him to the very last minute, even when confronted with a European request that he name a substitute. The exercise of power has proven much stronger than the projection of principles of good government.

 

Spanish Version Below

 

El impresentable Wolfowitz

 

By Raúl Sohr

 

EXISTE UN ACUERDO TÁCITO entre europeos y estadounidenses. Los primeros tienen la presidencia del Fondo Monetario Internacional y los segundos, la del Banco Mundial. De modo que no tiene nada de extraño que sea la Casa Blanca la que virtualmente nomina a quien dirigirá los destinos del BM. En tiempos recientes su orientación ha sido alentar las privatizaciones y la liberalización económica.

 

En lo que toca a Paul Wolfowitz, su presidente hasta el 30 de junio (fecha en que se hará efectiva su renuncia), Washington tiene razón cuando señala que su nombramiento despertó aprensiones en algunos y un rechazo abierto en otros. A fin de cuentas, un neoconservador proveniente del Pentágono, donde se desempeñó como subsecretario bajo Donald Rumsfeld, y fue responsable de la invasión a Irak, no calza con la imagen del humanista preocupado del desarrollo de los países más postergados que se esperaría para el cargo.

 

Si su ideario era debatible, su reputación dejaba mucho que desear. En los corredores del poder en Washington era conocido por su ambición y constantes pugnas con quienes consideraba adversarios. Las campañas de desprestigio eran parte importante de su arsenal. Una de las víctimas de ellas fue el secretario de Estado, Colin Powell.

 

Llegado al Banco Mundial, comenzó a pontificar contra la corrupción, el nepotismo y el favoritismo practicado en los países pobres. ¿Y qué hizo? ¿Llamó a concursos abiertos o promovió a los funcionarios del Banco? Nombró a sus conocidos, a personas de confianza, en su mayoría estadounidenses con pensamiento afín al suyo. Por un cuarto millón de dólares incorporó a Kevin Kellems, que de desarrollo poco sabía. Lo que Kellems manejaba eran equipos comunicacionales: se habría desempeñado como director de la oficina del vicepresidente Dick Cheney y en esa calidad vendió la espuria teoría de que Osama bin Laden y Sadam Hussein eran socios en la lucha contra Estados Unidos.

 

Otra de sus incorporaciones fue Juan Daboub, cuya trayectoria considera un trabajo activo en varios gobiernos derechistas de El Salvador: a éste se le encargó erradicar toda referencia a los programas de planificación familiar y de contracepción.

La arbitrariedad y el nepotismo llegaron al punto máximo con la novia de Wolfowitz, Shaha Ali Riza. La relación entre ambos se hizo pública al mismo tiempo que su nombramiento a la presidencia del banco. Ella trabajaba en esta institución desde principios de los ’90.

 

Los estatutos del organismo financiero no permitían que él, como su jefe, le fijara el salario. Entonces, como respuesta, envió a Riza a la sección de Medio Oriente en el Departamento de Estado, bajo las órdenes de Elizabeth Cheney, hija del vicepresidente. Con esa ubicación le garantizó un salario superior al de la propia cabeza del departamento, Condoleezza Rice. De regreso en el banco, la asociación de empleados de la institución denunció que los aumentos salariales recibidos por Riza eran más del doble de lo que autorizan sus estatutos.

 

Wolfowitz es uno de los responsables principales de haber desencadenado una de las guerras más desastrosas en tiempos recientes. Un conflicto que ha costado la vida de cientos de miles de iraquíes y millares de norteamericanos junto con la ruina de uno de los países más prósperos de Medio Oriente. Como si esto no fuese suficiente, contaminó al BM con sus prácticas de favoritismo e imposición de políticas por la vía de eliminar a sus adversarios. Es impresentable que no haya renunciado antes.

 

Pero es más desconcertante el apoyo que le brindó hasta el último minuto el Presidente George W. Bush, incluso frente a la petición europea de que nombre a un reemplazante. El ejercicio del poder ha resultado más fuerte que la proyección de principios de buen Gobierno.

 











Paul Wolfowitz leaves his house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on May 18. Wolfowitz annnounced that he will be resigning as World Bank President as of June 30, in the 'best interests of the Bank.'

—BBC NEWS VIDEO: Wolfowitz agrees to step down, effective June 30, but Bank staff says that's too lonf to wait, 00:01:16, May 18WindowsVideo

RealVideo[LATEST NEWSWIRE PHOTOS: Wolfowitz Under Fire].

'Smitten' [El Economista, Mexico]





Shaha Riza: The unlikely femme fatale at the center of the Wolfowitz storm.


After Iraq and the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz leaves the stage ...