Friday, April 27, 2007

Another Award for Neoconservative Chutzpah

Condi already has her Chutzpah of the Week award, so the timing seems right for Paul Wolfowitz to get his. Think of all they have in common, from their prestigious academic credentials to a preternatural disposition for aggression in the face of adversity. In this case the context can be found in Steven Weisman's current "review of the bidding" in Wolfowitz' conflict with the World Bank over whether he should keep his job. Weisman's lead paragraphs illustrate the delicacy and tact that the Bank, as an institution, has tried to bring to bear on what must be such an unpleasant situation:

Paul D. Wolfowitz’s struggle to hold on to his job as World Bank president suffered a major setback on Thursday when more than 40 members of the organization’s anticorruption team, formed to promote transparent government and closely identified with Mr. Wolfowitz, declared that the controversy over his conduct was undermining their work.

Without directly calling for his resignation or removal, the team said that Mr. Wolfowitz and the bank’s board needed to take “clear and decisive actions to resolve this crisis,” which it said was undermining the bank’s “credibility and authority to engage” on the corruption issue.

“The credibility of our front-line staff is eroding in the face of legitimate questions from our clients about the bank’s ability to practice what it preaches on governance,” the statement said. “In these circumstances, we cannot credibly implement the GAC strategy,” using the acronym for governance and anticorruption.

So how has Wolfowitz reacted? We learn this by progressing further into Weisman's article:

Mr. Wolfowitz, who has steadily lost support in recent weeks at the bank and in finance ministries around the world, had asked Wednesday to appear before the board next week. He conveyed that request in a letter charging that the board had treated him “shabbily and unfairly” by not giving him enough time to make his case.

Having read several other accounts of this affair, I am willing to stick my neck out and say that Weisman did a pretty good job of keeping bias out of his lead paragraphs, leading us to wonder just how it is that the Bank board has been unfair, let alone shabby, to Wolfowitz. Having enough time seems like a pretty shallow argument, given how long this pot has been boiling. Perhaps Wolfowitz needs the time because he assumed that the controversy would just run out of steam; but to now accuse his accusers of unfair and shabby treatment in the wake of his own failure to recognize the need to prepare a defense makes for a good working definition of chutzpah!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Githongo Calls on Wolfowitz to Resign

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Asserting that Western admonitions about corruption to Africa and other developing regions are undermined by the misbehaviour of World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, Kenya’s former permanent secretary for ethics and governance, Dr. John Githongo, has called on Wolfowitz to resign his post.

“Corruption in Western capitals and in international financial institutions can do little but fuel the cynicism of corrupt officials in Africa and elsewhere,” said Githongo in a statement prepared for the news media. “When Paul Wolfowitz uses his influence as a US Government official and as president of the World Bank to fill the purse of his paramour (and, by inference, to line his own pockets as well), one can hear the cackling from state houses and presidential palaces all across Africa.”

Githongo said: “Paul Wolfowitz should resign now, before his poor example and bad judgment are emulated by petty dictators and venal middle managers throughout the developing world.”

He added: “Wolfowitz, of all people, should know better than to use his office for enrichment. He should be ashamed of himself.”

Since being forced into exile by a hostile political climate in his native Kenya, John Githongo has been a fellow at St. Antony’s College at Oxford University. In February, he accepted an appointment at Queen’s University in Ontario as a research fellow at the International Development Research Centre, where he is collaborating on a major research initiative on Ethnicity and Democratic Governance.

For further information, contact John Githongo at