Wolfowitz at the door

How can the developing world bank on him?

 
Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

-- in paul wolfowitz's selection as World Bank president, global democracy has taken a sharp fall. Since its formation after World War II, the president of the bank has been nominated by the us , with European powers always nodding approval. In return, Europe gets to nominate the International Monetary Fund's head. The continuation of this marriage of convenience undermines the fact that the World Bank is a very different institution today from what it intended to be.

Today, the bank's clients are developing countries, and the bank can play a critical role in helping these countries meet key development challenges. Not just by lending them money for development projects, but by funding initiatives to generate country-specific knowledge.

Just how Wolfowitz's presence would facilitate this is beyond comprehension. Here's a snippet from his biography: "Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, Wolfowitz has assisted in planning the global war on terrorism, including military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq". Wolfowitz's curriculum vitae is a potent contraceptive for constructive discussion, given his war-mongering. He's played a key role in the us invasion of Iraq, which was the sharpest sign of us unilateralism in recent years -- and even the us now recognises that the reasons for that invasion were not very well founded. Having such a man to head a global development institution is a supreme irony.

It is expected that Wolfowitz will take the World Bank back to the days of Robert McNamara. The outgoing president of the bank, James Wolfensohn, brought about a significant change in the bank's profile. Among other things, Wolfensohn engaged with the most vociferous critics of the World Bank and initiated democratic discussions on the bank's activities. While several such initiatives were cosmetic in nature, few would deny that the bank became more open and democratic. Had the nomination of the bank president been a democratic and transparent exercise, Wolfowitz would never have made it.

Just as the bank is likely to veer right under Wolfowitz, the global civil society will react sharply. You can expect highly polarised discussions on development issues. The illegitimacy of his nomination and election is bound to show in the bank's operations.

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