Friday, May 18, 2007

Hanging Tough Pays Off

My favorite from Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies (this one is in the 1996 fourth edition) is "Go to an extreme, come part way back." It looks as if it may be Paul Wolfowitz' favorite, too! If the terms he set for his departure from the World Bank were extreme enough to warrant consideration for a second Chutzpah Award, it would appear that he did not have to come back very far. Al Jazeera English has provided a nice summary of how this affair was finally resolved:
Paul Wolfowitz has said he will resign as World Bank president at the end of June, ending a protracted battle over his leadership sparked by a promotion he arranged for his girlfriend.

The bank's board said it accepted that Wolfowitz had acted "in good faith" and acknowledged that "a number of mistakes were made by a number of individuals".

"He assured us that he acted ethically and in good faith ... and we accept that," it said.

The board said it was "grateful to Mr Wolfowitz for his service at the bank", adding that "much has been achieved in the last two years" – a move condemned by the bank's staff association.

Wolfowitz, 63, said he was pleased the board "accepted my assurance that I acted ... in what I believed were the best interests of the institution, including protecting the rights of a valued staff member".
Now, he said, it was in the best interest of the board that its mission "be carried forward under new leadership".
However, this is far from an and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after ending, at least from the World Bank's point of view:
The board said it was clear that "a number of mistakes were made by a number of individuals in handling the matter under consideration" and that there was a "need to review the governance framework of the World Bank Group, including the role as well as procedural and other aspects of the ethics committee".
In other words the World Bank seems to have concluded by closing the barn door after the horse was stolen, while Wolfowitz can enjoy the benefits of holding to his extreme position. Nevertheless, out of a sense that the award should be distributed fairly across the sample set, rather than concentrating on any single individual, I have decided that this weeks award should remain in the hands (so to speak) of the sex offenders.

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