March 17, 2005

Wolfy Shocks Europe!

It's 'Wolfowitz Appointment Shocks Europe' time...

FT:

President George W. Bush's decision on Wednesday to nominate Paul Wolfowitz as the next president of the World Bank marks the second shock this month to Europeans who thought Mr Bush would present a kinder, gentler face to the world in his second term.

Instead, along with the nomination last week of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, Mr Bush has put forward two men who have been the most passionate advocates for the view that if the US leads, the rest of the world will follow and fall into line.

"Wolfowitz has been seen as a symbol of the go-it-alone approach of the Bush administration," said Devesh Kapur, a Harvard political scientist and co-author of the official history of the World Bank. "Along with the nomination of Bolton, the US is putting the biggest sceptics of multilateralism in charge."

Er, except they're not being put in "charge." Bolton was given USUN as a consolation prize because he didn't get Deputy Secretary of State. And he will be reporting to Condeleeza Rice and not end-running around her lest he raise Bush's ire. As for Wolfowitz, if I were a peevish European, wouldn't I be happier to see him far from the Pentagon and happily ensconced at the World Bank? Where a kindler, gentler Wolfowitz will emerge, full of talk re: the critical import of economic development rather than regime change in Teheran, Damascus and Pyongyang?

Don't miss this other 'the Euros are panicking' piece either:

"We were led to believe that the neoconservatives were losing ground," said Michael Cox, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics. "But clearly the revolution is alive and well." He added that despite recent efforts from Washington to mend relations, "Europeans are still inclined deep down to suspect the worst, and this appointment won't go down too well."

How cute Professor Cox! You can almost hear the manifest self-importance ("we were lead to believe...") in the pre-prepared and snide soundbites Cox had all teed up for the Washington Post journalist: "But clearly the revolution is alive and well." Heh. It is, of course, in the streets of Beirut and in the polling stations of Iraq. But it hasn't gotten to LSE yet. Pity, as there's doubtless a lot of dead wood kicking about....


Posted by Gregory at March 17, 2005 04:46 AM | TrackBack (5)
Comments

"despite recent efforts from Washington to mend relations"
Mend relations? What relations? Did Bush say that he wanted to mend relations, or did the self-important Euros and the MSM fantasized that Bush was to mend relations? Anyway, shouldn't the Euros be the ones to 'mend relations'? So far Bush was right, Euros were wrong, why the heck should Bush be mending relations?

Posted by: ic at March 17, 2005 06:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The quotation from Michael Cox illustrates something that I've noticed about the Euro elite over the last few months. They are falling into the classic trap of out-of-touch dictators every: they have come to believe their own propaganda. Having constructed over the last few years this stereotype of the ignorant cowboy warmonger Bush, they can no longer process information that contradicts or fails to confirm the stereotype.

Posted by: Martin Adamson at March 17, 2005 12:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Of course they go to the resident Marxist at the LSE for the quotation. Couldn't find anyone else in the department, I'm sure.

Posted by: rdg at March 17, 2005 12:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good morning from Europe!!

Clare Short, on Channel 4 News last night, said that Europe could reject the nomination, just as the US had rejected Europe's nomination for the IMF not so long ago. But that was under Clinton, in 2000.

Further reaction this morning. Wolfowitz's nomination to the World Bank is criticized on two axes: he is seen as being an 'amateur'; more crucially, it seen as the US opening another front in the 'war on terrorism'. By attacking poverty and corruption. How terrible.

--- See --- ---

Posted by: DavidP at March 17, 2005 12:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This perfesser's not very good at his job. If even the Guardian sniffed out a Wolfowitz appointment-to-be several weeks ago (see the Mark Tran blog on this from early March), then what excuse does an LSE prof have for being blindsided?

Must royally suck to have a paradigm that can neither predict nor explain much in the political world these days.

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

"Amateur" , LOL. Wolfowitz lacks experience in dishing out mega-project funding that does absolutely f-all to help the peoples of the developing world while adding greatly to the revenues of Bouygues Bechtel Alcatel Siemens et al. The World Bank's record at reducing poverty is miserable. Long past time we shifted the focus from loans to grants, from mega-projects to micro-enterprise, from klepto-friendly statism to people-friendly entrepreneurship.

Good for Bush, and good for the wretched of the earth who've suffered from the incompetence of the World Bank-IMF-devel't community and from the rapacious of the western suitcase bankers. This is a wonderful day for true friends of the poor.

Posted by: thibaud at March 17, 2005 04:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For the record, that is an absurd caricature of what the World Bank has done recently, and certainly not one Wolfowitz should put any stock in.

Ponderous as it often is, the Bank has often been more sinned against than sinning when it comes to getting worthwhile projects funded in a timely manner without being burdened with conditions. In the interest of keeping Western NGOs quiet it has often had to slow down approval of loans for major projects to a glacial pace, and this is a battle Wolfowitz will have to fight.

But the idea of replacing loans with grants is completely wrong. Good loans to advanced middle income countries are needed to fund riskier projects in the poorest countries, and regional economies will not develop so as to reduce poverty without local engines of growth -- potentially large and dynamic economies like Brazil's and South Africa's. There are a lot of things that could profitably be changed at the Bank, but any new President will need to begin by recognizing how much there is that the Bank has been doing right.

Posted by: Zathras at March 17, 2005 05:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is an interesting problem: Are neocons gaining or losing power when they are put into important positions with respect to institutions that neocons think aren't very important or useful? I'm sure Europeans think "the neo-cons are taking over" while the neo-cons are thinking "why am I being exiled?".

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at March 17, 2005 05:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pardon my ignorance, Zathras, but could you please explain why large economies such as Brazil and SA that have good access to the capital markets need funding from the World Bank? The logic of your point seems to be that the WB needs Brazil et al. Isn't the right question why, and where, Brazil et al need the WB?

Posted by: thibaud at March 17, 2005 05:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Another point that seems to have escaped the Wolfophobes is that his "girlfriend", as the Times of London calls her (Wolfowitz is divorced), is a Saudi feminist who works for the World Bank.

Posted by: thibaud at March 17, 2005 05:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Zathras,

the Bank has often been more sinned against than sinning when it comes to getting worthwhile projects funded in a timely manner without being burdened with conditions. In the interest of keeping Western NGOs quiet it has often had to slow down approval of loans for major projects to a glacial pace

I'm familiar with the Bank's performance in Russia, where there was no significant NGO opposition to speak of and where the pressure was on the Bank to lend more, not less. Despite the Bank's efforts to take credit for Russian privatization-- which was in any case largely botched, resulting in transferring cs. 40% of Russian production into the hands of seven bandit groups-- there is little positive to speak of concerning its Russia record. Here's the Carnegie Endowment's summary of that shitty record: http://www.carnegieendowment.org/events/index.cfm?fa=eventDetail&id=516

Sum:
Despite the Bank's significant investment in Russia, Mr. Zanini characterized its work at the project level as poor, noting that, with the exception of sustainability, Russia's project performance was well below that of other evaluated projects. Of the 15 evaluated projects, 7 were rated as satisfactory, while only 28 percent of the Bank's Russia commitments received satisfactory ratings. Excluding the two groups of 1997 adjustment loans for which the Bank disputes the OED's unsatisfactory rating, the percentage of satisfactory commitments remained low, at roughly 57 percent. A satisfactory rating depended on relevance, efficacy, and efficiency....

Zanini agreed that the World Bank pushed too much money at the wrong time in Russia, especially in 1996 and 1997 with the external and internal pressure on the Bank to lend. The Bank could have achieved all that it ultimately did achieve with much less money, by funneling that money instead into technical advice.

Posted by: thibaud at March 17, 2005 06:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sebastian Holsclaw: Are neocons gaining or losing power when they are put into important positions with respect to institutions that neocons think aren't very important or useful?

Losing power but gaining visibility, especially overseas. Seems clear that Bush is continuing to distance himself from the neocons but doesn't want it to look that way.

Of course, this should be really bad news for anybody who thinks Bush really believes in the neocon goal.

Posted by: fling93 at March 17, 2005 07:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I wonder if any parallels can be drawn between Wolfowitz's nomination following the unpopular Iraq war and Robert McNamara's nomination during the unpopular Viet Nam war? Well, except for the parallel that Wolfowitz will be accepted just as McNamara was...

Posted by: Carl F at March 17, 2005 07:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Developing middle income countries like South Africa and Brazil need the Bank because their populations are divided between a relatively small number of very affluent people and a large number of very poor people. Projects directed at this latter group are what Bank credit, and the Bank's expertise, are for. More broadly it seems clear that for many poor countries in Africa, Asia and South America aid targeted directly at them can have only a limited effect if it is not supplemented by the growth of trade with more advanced countries in their geographic area. This is the value in attempting to fund infrastructure and accelerate growth in certain key middle income countries like Brazil, India, and South Africa. World Bank credit, of course, is less attractive to all but the most desperate borrowers if it comes encumbered with large numbers of conditions. No one faced with a drought wants to wait five years for an irrigation project. Not all conditions on loans are frivolous, but they're are enough of them now that the World Bank is less attractive as a lender. This is an area ripe for reform, and one that would put Wolfowitz on a collision course with many environmental and other NGOs that have demanded more conditions on infrastructure loans especially over the last decade.

As to Russia, the report quoted is as far as I can tell quite accurate. A politically responsive Bank can be a good thing, but Wolfensohn's desire to be responsive to the Clinton White House was a factor in some imprudent lending in Russia during the 1990s. As someone who thinks Clinton's Russia policy was fundamentally misconceived, I won't be caught defending mistakes made in its behalf.

Posted by: Zathras at March 17, 2005 07:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The only things that surprises me is that Europe would be surprised by the Bush Administration's nominations of hawks to such positions.

Given the "mandate" the Bush administration received at the most recent election it should be fairly obvious that the Bush Administration should feel much more comfortable pursuing a more rather than less unilateral position. Afterall American public opinion I would have thought was a greater determinant of US Government behaviour than foreign opinion.

Perhaps the recent "diplomatic" approaches by Condi Rice, and GWB's European visit lulled the "Euro's" into a false sense of security. A cunning plan?

Posted by: Aran Brown at March 17, 2005 10:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry I should clarify the comment concering adopting a more rather than less unilateralist position. By that I meant that the Bush Administration may well feel more comfortable adopting a position where they feel such a stance serves their interest, given their "mandate". If adopting a multilateral approach serves US interested better of course they'll adopt that approach.

Posted by: Aran Brown at March 17, 2005 10:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What puzzles me is what exactly the European positions are on many matters. It seems as far as Europe is concerned their most pertinent stand is that they were against the invasion of Iraq two years ago. For contemorary affairs I see or hear little of any relavance other than their somewhat odd attempts to sell weapons to China.

The EU constitution will effectively create the EU identity that federalists proponents have been seeking for twenty years but at the moment there appears to be some sort of limbo. The EU is being talked as if it's coherent but I can't see much evidence.

Posted by: Andrew Paterson at March 18, 2005 12:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Carl F: 'I wonder if any parallels can be drawn between Wolfowitz's nomination following the unpopular Iraq war and Robert McNamara's nomination during the unpopular Viet Nam war?'

Wolfowitz was one of the main drivers of the Iraq war, going back to things like the harebrained 'enclaves' idea in '98.

Whereas McNamara resigned in 1968, when he could no longer stomach the policy in Vietnam, though he did not state this publicly until many decades after, most famously in the recent film, but previously in Foreign Affairs (Link here).

Can't see Wolfowitz doing anything like that.

Posted by: DavidP at March 18, 2005 01:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Andrew Paterson: 'The EU constitution will effectively create the EU identity that federalists proponents have been seeking for twenty years...'

Europe is totally divided and confused. A French opinion poll reported this morning showed a majority in favour of rejecting the EU constitution. On the left, there are some for whom the constitution is too 'liberal' (in the French sense of the word, i.e. too much in favour of free markets). Others see the paramount issue as the need to build a more coherent Europe, against the US hyperpower and to face the challenge of China (see here, if you read French).

Posted by: DavidP at March 18, 2005 02:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Davidp, oh I completely agree, Europe is indeed divided and confused. To clarify, I was thinking more of the far reaching legislative powers and the institutions of the EU that use them rather than what the European governments believe, when approaching the EU identity. These are stocked to the brim with well paid individuals who all sing from the same hymn sheet, there just happens to be very few notes it seems.

There is a nefarious habit of the EU to act regardless of the people it 'governs', in fact it's possible to argue it's designed to exist despite the people rather than for them. The old 'irreversible' carnard will be put forward I would imagine, were the Constitution rejected.

The CIA doesn't have a great track record in predictions but overall its 15-20 year lifespan estimate of the EU might not be a bad bet all things considered.

Posted by: Andrew Paterson at March 18, 2005 03:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

WOLFOWITZ is the principle architect of America's liberational foreign policy.

Bush is INSPIRED to make him the head World Bank.

Folks who think the developed part of the world should just keep pouring money down the black-hole of corrupt tyrannical socialist nations are pretty pissed off that Bush has nominated Wolfowitz to head the WORD BANK.


They should be: Wolfowitz is a TRUE BELIEVER in democracy, transparency and free markets - and a great manager who has been leading the TRANSFORMATION of the Pentagon.

Wolfowitz will not countenance continued waste and fraud at the WB or with WB funds, and he will insist that nations receiving aid and loans become freer.


This pisses off the pro-socialist/pro-tyranny Left - who dominate the EU, and America's MSM and academy - as it should: it's ANOTHER NAIL IN THEIR COFFIN!

Wolfowitz is an EXTRAORDINARY man: a great thinker and statesman who has been at the very forefront, spearheading the spread of democracy since his days in the Reagan Administration when he led our efforts at ousting Marcos. And he helped democratize Indonesia. When you add in those he helped liberate in Afghanistan and Iraq, then you have to admit that Wolfowitz has been the principle philosophical tactician - "THE PRICIPLE ARCHITECT" (to use a phrase the Left likes) - of policies and actions which led to the liberation 300 MILLION people. WOW!

As infamous non-nuanced hot-head conservative nincompoop GLENN REYNOLDS WROTE: Wolfowitz is the Kennan of WW4.

Wolfowitz will bring the same zeal for democracy and freedom and transparency to the WORLD BANK, and FINALLY make it an effective institution.

Bush made an INSPIRED selection - again!

UPDATE: FOR AN UNRIVALED COLLECTION OF LEFT-WING ANTI-WOLFOWITZ RAVINGS GO TO MY PET JAWA.

http://astuteblogger.blogspot.com/2005/03/wolfowitz-principle-architect-of.html


Posted by: reliapundit at March 18, 2005 08:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Andrew Paterson: 'The CIA doesn't have a great track record in predictions but overall its 15-20 year lifespan estimate of the EU might not be a bad bet all things considered.'

The EU might last a bit longer than that. The question is: will it continue to progress.

Anyway, it's enough of a success story for countries to want to join it, from Turkey to Ukraine. Wolfowitz (to get back to him) and other 'neo-cons' seem to see this as a good thing, as I've said before. This seems to suggest that their motivation is ideological, rather than nationalistic: the spread of democracy (and free markets if you like), not the consolidation and extension of American power.

Posted by: DavdiP at March 19, 2005 08:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Forgot to mention: I linked here to an interesting programme on the BBC about the neo-conservatives's attitudes towards the EU -  transcript here.

Posted by: DavidP at March 20, 2005 10:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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