Friday, March 18, 2005

World Wide Wolfowitz

There's been quite a bit of shouting - including some from us(and I highly recommend you check the Indie500 roll for more if you want) - over Bush tapping Wolfowitz to head the World Bank. Both Cooper and Corn mention the similarities with the situation with McNamara. But as noted yesterday in the NYT, this is not quite an apt analogy. In fact, Arthur at LoR makes note of a far more striking analogy, which sums up much of my feelings on the subject now.

Back when I was more of a doctrinaire far leftist, I considered the World Bank - along with its sister the IMF - just another international institution dedicated to global capital's domination of the working people of the world. Therefore, in my view at that time it didn't matter who was running it. This had much to do with the conditions it set for aid to third world countries with regard to economic policy. These days I tend to think that although it's not an ideologically neutral organization - it's still all about the dolla's - it at least has the possibility of doing good humanitarian work and its initial mission was actually laudable. It was set up as part of a network of global institutions that was intended to prevent the development of conditions which lead to the rise of Hitler and WWII. So in my new "mature pragmatic" outlook, it's pretty damn distressing that Wolfowitz will end up heading up the place.

This has very little to do with whether or not one thinks Wolfowitz is evil or how one feels about the Iraq war. You could forget all about objecting to the Iraq War and look back at what Wolfowitz predicted would happen, and how wrong he was. His skills as a policy architect and implementor as well as a day to day manager of large projects appear to be incredibly lacking. It may well be that he thinks the World Bank's project is a good one, and that he may do whatever he thinks is the right thing. He might even express goals with which I agree. But when it comes right down do it, he's a wooly-headed academic with very little actual nitty-gritty policy implementation ability. To put this in perspective - and put aside accusations of "partisan objection" - let me say that if they had tried to put in charge some wooly-headed lefty academic such as Eric Alterman, say, I'd have the same attitude. Yes, it's a good thing to have the person you intended to run an organization believe in the mission of said organization, and there's some indication that Wolfowitz does. But that's clearly not enough, and I would think that there are people far more qualified to do the job.

It just seems a shame to me to waste an important job on someone who hasn't shown they deserve it. Let's hope that the Moose (and Alterman for that matter) is right about this, and I am wrong.

Update: And since I already linked there twice in this post, notice that an Altercation reader agrees with me(scroll down to the letter by Samuel Knight).

Update II: Fixed the precognitive date screw-up. I will not have published this tomorrow, but I did start it yesterday and finished it today.

Update III: Never let it be said that RUFNKM is not fair and balanced. Here is a snippet of an interview with Wolfowitz.

Update IV(in a record of updates for RUFNKM): Ian Welsh at BoP has an additional take that is quite insightful.

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