March 17, 2005

And Then There Was One

Doug Feith. Paul Wolfowitz. Of course, Rumsfeld is next (it's starting to feel like the defenestration of Prague!) The only question is whether he will wait until '06 to exit stage left (I'm still betting mid to late '05). But you've known all this already if you've been reading B.D. over the past months.

P.S. I think so much of the vitriole that has been aimed at Paul Wolfowitz has been hyperbolic claptrap and grossly unfair. Still, his cheerleading of too rosy post-war assumptions cannot be whitewashed away. But while this fact will always remain a part of his legacy, so too could a more positive one given the Iraqi elections, events in Lebanon, democratic stirrings in Egypt. Re: the World Bank, I think Wolfowitz will make a fine choice for the posting. I think his time in Indonesia and elsewhere, married to his obvious intelligence, will put him in good stead as he grapples with economic development issues there. Wolfowitz, in many ways, has always been the most interesting and complex neo-con that served in Bush's administration. Widely reviled by many, yes, I wouldn't be surprised if he will now be missed in some unlikely quarters too.

Posted by Gregory at March 17, 2005 03:41 AM | TrackBack (4)

I'm not an admirer of Wolfowitz's performance at the Pentagon, though I lay most of the blame for the worst mistakes at Sec. Rumsfeld's doorstep. Nevertheless, I think for anyone who believes an active and effective World Bank is a good thing to have his appointment there is a gift.

Now, it may be that this is just another prominent position in which President Bush wanted a familiar face. But the World Bank has been hampered in the past by presidents who either a) did not want the job, b) had no experience running a large public sector organization, c) knew nothing at all about development, d) were unused to acting in a diplomatic capacity or e) some combination of the above. Wolfowitz meets at least some of the criteria for being an effective World Bank president, and meets some of them easily. As a bonus, the one developing country he knows intimately -- Indonesia -- is likely to be one of the World Bank's most important clients in the next few years.

Now, having said that, he could still screw this up, and if he does he will screw it up....huge. Wolfowitz's judgment has never been quite equal to his intellect, and his periodic shiftiness with Congress does not auger well for his relations with some of the Bank's many constituencies. A World Bank president has a much higher profile in other countries than he has in the United States; rhetoric aimed at an American audience will often not go over well either in client states or among the Bank's own staff. Finally Wolfowitz showed at the Pentagon a weakness for "silver bullet" thinking that seeks One Big Idea to will resolve intractable problems. Obviously for him the One Big Idea at the Defense Department was invading Iraq. In development, there are no silver bullets. Every country is different -- every group with which the Bank deals is different -- and no matter how much Wolfowitz thinks he knows about them now he will need time and patience to understand what is working and what is not.

I hope and believe he will take it. Wolfowitz's heart is in the right place on development issues, which is to say he cares about them. Coming from a US President without a record of knowledge or even concern about this subject, this appointment should be looked on as a godsend by people who think the Bank's work is important.

Posted by: Zathras at March 17, 2005 04:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

He's been unfairly vilified in some respects, but it was known going in (see the Mann book) that Wolfy was a disaster as an administrator. I don't see how this will help him at the Bank, but I suppose he's better than a failed HP exec. and a hardcore rightwinger UnderSec of the Tres. I wish him the best.

Posted by: praktike at March 17, 2005 06:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

La historia s'absolvera.

Posted by: thibaud at March 17, 2005 04:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If nothing else, Wolfowitz would deserve ouster for what he did to General Shinseki.

That said, and largely on the basis of James Mann's "Rise of the Vulcans," I think the Wolfman is of a moral caliber well above Cheney and Rumsfeld's, and I'll hope that he is conscientious at his new post.

Posted by: Anderson at March 17, 2005 04:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't think anyone could have had fewer boners on their resume, considering how many prominent decision-making positions he's had in the last 25 years. Even his worst "cakewalk,""pay for itself" type comments/mistakes shouldn't be totally discounted as the ravings of a madman. I think that scenario might have been a lot more plausible if our hammer had come down on the Sunni's (through Turkey) as the original plan intended.

Posted by: wayne at March 18, 2005 01:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

wolfie is GREAT; the Kennan of the GWOT.

he will make the WB useful - isntead of what it is:: a black hole of waste.

this is NOT a demotion; a revamped WB can play a HUGE role in the GWOT.

the WB is NOT militaristic; it deals with core issues - issues wolfie knows better than anyone.

wolfie was the central figure behind the cause of demnocracy-over-status-quoism for the last 30 years - leading the efforts to oust marcos and re-establish democracy in indonesia.

when you add their populations to those of afghanistan and iraw, then wolfie's efforts have led to the liberation of 300 million people!

a great result from a courageous and briulliant and great man.

as for the attcks against him for painting too rosy a picture of post war Iraq ::::: things are better there than in post-war Germany or Japan - OR IRAN, SYRIA, or Lebanon!

We HAVE achieved a great deal - more than any of the anti-war people thought EVEN POSSIBLE!

And the idiot who made the shinseki charge is an inaccurate ASS! shinseki was slated to retire BEFORE he made the infamous AND WRONG REMARKS! YEAH WRONG! more troops would have DONE NOTHING!

Almost all our casualties are CONVOYS, and CONVOYS would've had to have been INCREASED AND ENLARGED to accomodate hundreds of thousands of more troops --- WHO WOULD'VE DONE WHAT?!?!? Patrol the streets and made it seems even MORE like a USA occupation!@>!?!?!?!?!

We used the right strategy and tactics and things are going GREAT! Those who think not, are ignorant of history and were ANTI-WAR before the war, so their views are NOT TO BE TRUSTED NOW!

YUOP: they cone from the same folks who told us that MILLIONS would starve in Afghanistan and who said we would fail there as the USSR did.

NO SANE PERSON WOULD LISTEN TOP FOLKS WHO HAVE BEEN SO WRONG SO OFTEN as the critics of wolfie and Bush have been!

Posted by: reliapundit at March 18, 2005 04:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wolfowitz may be guilty of "cheerleading of too rosy post-war assumptions," but relative to the "too dire" war and post-war assumptions of most of his critics, he comes out pretty well. Even if we were to ultimately fail in Iraq (which is only possible if the anti-war advocates are successful and we lose our national will), we will have done the moral thing, and Wolfowitz can accept much of the credit/blame for it.

Posted by: Blue at March 20, 2005 10:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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