Friday, May 18, 2007

Le Monde on Wolfowitz -- Updated 5/18, 19

(This post first appeared April 15)

A peek behind the curtain reveals how the the president of the World Bank went too far, provoking 22 of the 24 administrators to defy him to his face.

Violating bank rules, Wolfowitz has ordered the Human Resources Director to write a contract giving Ms. Riza a $60,000 raise and a guaranteed slot for her return to the bank. Afterwards, she is to be given big promotions every five years until her retirement. This type of treatment is unheard of at the bank. The Board publishes the findings:

Paul Wolfowitz had summoned three henchmen from the White House and the Department of Defense engaged via nebulous and presumably generous contracts. He made Robin Cleveland No. 2 at the bank through a position created especially for her: Adviser to the President. Cleveland is despised by the bank's staff, to whom she is known as The Dragon. The job of Kevin Kellems is apparently official censor. Suzanne Rich Folsom runs the internal police, The Integrity Department, like the Spanish Inquisition. Wolfowitz has also appointed Juan José Daboub of El Salvador as Director-General, someone who is very close to Opus Dei (as are Bush's Supreme Court picks).

Barricaded in his office behind his 4-headed dog demon (and emulating his boss, George W. Bush), Wolfowitz issues fiats left and right, including instructions to staff to report "traitors" to the law firm of Williams & Connoly. He also metes out punishment. For example, Christiaan Poortman is fired as head of the Middle East Department because he advised against opening a World Bank office in Baghdad. Indeed, Wolfowitz wields the anti-corruption club depending on who is in Bush's good book, cutting off funds of those on the White House's enemies.

Fed up, 22 of his 24 administrators tell Wolfowitz to his face in January that they are dissatisfied in his leadership.

.
Thanks again to Nur for the translation. Her take on the whole affair:

These people have no moral clarity or respect for what the United States has traditionally stood for. They live by the medieval Mafia code and fealty to the gang leader, their overlord.
.
Yep.

I'm still thinking about the comment The Fat Lady left at Friday's post about Imus. In my mind that affair and this share a level of brassy arrogance that takes my breath away. The comment was about talk-show hosts, but it applies to some of the highest offices in government as well.


I once heard Rush Limbaugh interviewed by Phil Donohue and Vladimir Posner. They asked him if he really believed the swill he was ladling out. Limbaugh said no – not necessarily. He told them he had created a character – and as long as that character continued to make him money, he saw no need to change formats. Now THAT speaks to the relative emptiness of his soul. In my opinion – all the rest of his contemporaries posses that same lack of moral fiber.

.
This is not old-fashioned Elmer Gantry-type hypocrisy. That kind of hormone driven corruption is endemic to the population, reaching across the whole political spectrum. Clinton and Kennedy immediately come to mind.

The mistress angle may have triggered his undoing, but this is not the same. What we are witnessing is a control-seeking, take-no-prisoners management style that derives from an autocratic, even dictatorial approach to wielding power. Persuasion is not part of the formula. It's all about the power.

It's the difference between seduction and rape. Talk-show hosts may be guilty of seduction, but the gang for whom they are cheerleaders sometimes employ rapists. Entertainers depend upon ratings in the same way that politicians depend on votes. But political appointees don't depend on anyone other than a hanful of well-placed bosses.

Addendum Monday, April 16

I thought I was done here, but this popped up as I was drilling into my referrals. Somebody did a search for "suzanne rich folsom" so I did, too.
This from Australia via The Dude's Blog. Note: this was back in December...


The only other chief to sweep aside as many senior managers was Mr Wolfowitz's predecessor, James Wolfensohn, said Devesh Kapur, a former economist at the lender. The difference was that Mr Wolfowitz's appointees were short on expertise and long on political connections.

New faces include counsellor to the president Robin Cleveland, who as associate director of the White House Office of Management and Budget helped secure congressional funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kevin Kellems, a former spokesman for Vice-President Dick Cheney, was named director of external strategy. Suzanne Rich Folsom, who joined in 2003 and is the bank's chief corruption fighter, is married to George Folsom, who was principal deputy director of the Iraq

Reconstruction Management Office and president of the International Republican Institute.Mr Wolfowitz, 62, "has placed considerably more trust in a small group of outsiders from the Republican Party than in the seasoned experts in the bank", said Alison Cave, head of the World Bank staff association.


I don't think I need to say anything more.

Final update, May 18

He resigned.
Right....

I am pleased that after reviewing all the evidence the Executive Directors of the World Bank Group have accepted my assurance that I acted ethically and in good faith in what I believed were the best interests of the institution, including protecting the rights of a valued staff member.

The poorest people of the world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa deserve the very best that we can deliver. Now it is necessary to find a way to move forward.

To do that, I have concluded that it is in the best interests of those whom this institution serves for that mission to be carried forward under new leadership. Therefore, I am announcing today that I will resign as President of the World BankGroup effective at the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2007).


This fascinating document is a study in spinning, underscoring in words that defy description how leaders often have the capacity to compartmentalize principles like eggs in a carton or tools in a box, bringing them out as needed to serve whatever purpose in most expedient to reach an end. Classic ends justifies the means thinking.

I am reminded of instances where large financial settlements are reached to end legal troubles arising from fraud, deception or other malfeasance on the part of individuals or companies...
How many times have we read "...admits no wrongdoing" while simultaneously paying off the visctims of said non-wrongdoing?

The story is all over the news but I got the link at FP. Go there to read a list of possible replacements.

After reading what I wrote earlier I like it even better...

This is not old-fashioned Elmer Gantry-type hypocrisy. That kind of hormone driven corruption is endemic to the population, reaching across the whole political spectrum. Clinton and Kennedy immediately come to mind.

The mistress angle may have triggered his undoing, but this is not the same. What we are witnessing is a control-seeking, take-no-prisoners management style that derives from an autocratic, even dictatorial approach to wielding power. Persuasion is not part of the formula. It's all about the power.

It's the difference between seduction and rape. Talk-show hosts may be guilty of seduction, but the gang for whom they are cheerleaders sometimes employ rapists. Entertainers depend upon ratings in the same way that politicians depend on votes. But political appointees don't depend on anyone other than a hanful of well-placed bosses.

In the aftermath of rape the perpetrator's most common defense is that it was consensual, ergo not rape.
Seduction, maybe? But not rape.
Surely not.

Addendum May 19

Leon Hadar posted an interesting retrospective of Wolfowitz, looking back at a couple of observations he made two years ago as his star was rising.

...I had chosen Wolfowitz as my Man of the Year for 2005 just after he was selected by Bush as the President of the World Bank.
...The reason I've chosen him is not because of Iraq but because of his selection as the new chief of the World Bank where he is going to spend the coming years traveling around the globe and wining and dining with the rich and the mighty (paid for by the American taxpayer)as a reward for getting us into the mess in Iraq....In a way, Wolfowitz is leading the way for them, telling the rest of us: We'll always be here. Get used to that! [Well, I was wrong about this. I hope].
[...]
Renowned American historian and diplomat George F. Kennan died [in 2005] at the age of 101, a day after U.S. President George W. Bush announced that he was nominating Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz to head the World Bank.
So it was not surprising that I ended up going over the obituaries for the leading strategist of the Cold War on the same day that I was reading the bios on the main architect of the invasion of Iraq.

He continues with a comparson of the two statesmen, one from the cold war, the other from its aftermath.
I'm afraid Mr. Wolfowitz suffers a little under the microscope...
Whereas Mr. Kennan, spending the last 50 years as an intellectual recluse at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, did his best in avoiding the public and media limelight, Mr. Wolfowitz, the consummate Washington operator, has never encountered a television camera to which he wouldn't grant an interview.
.
...but he still has three or four decades to recover if he survives to Dr. Kennan's ripe old age.

Dr. Hadar's remarks are very much worth a look.
◄§§§§§►

Yet another link to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Wolfowitz’s departure won’t necessarily end the World Bank’s woes. First there is the issue of picking a successor. Washington currently bears responsibility for this process, though European leaders say they are keen to change this dynamic (FT). Any candidate too close to President Bush could be a political non-starter. Der
Spiegel suggests
three possible candidates: Paul Volcker, the former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman; Tony Blair, Britain’s outgoing prime minister; and Stanley Fischer, the governor of the Bank of Israel. The Wall Street Journal cautions that the selection process could be contentious and argues a highly publicized dogfight could further weaken the Bank’s standing in the world.


Lots more at the link.

◄§§§§§§►

Sunday, May 20

And the beat goes on...
The cherry on top of the banana split is a $400,000 "performance bonus" for Wolfowitz!

The departure of Wolfowitz, who insisted throughout a six-week battle that he had done nothing wrong, came after the Bush administration dropped its efforts to try to keep him in the job and began trying to negotiate a deal for his departure. Senior US officials said they worried that the drawn-out affair was beginning to raise questions about the bank's future effectiveness.

Wolfowitz will be able to collect a $400,000 performance bonus due him on June 1, according to two senior bank officials. US officials asked him to stay on as a caretaker until the end of June to allow time for the naming of a successor.

In the end, the 24-member bank board, in a statement that all but exonerated Wolfowitz, said, "He assured us that he acted ethically and in good faith in what he believed were the best interests of the institution, and we accept that. We also accept that others involved acted ethically and in good faith."


Thanks, Lindsay.

I got into the wrong line of work.

3 comments:

David Stefanini said...

I love the blog that you have. I was wondering if you would link my blog to yours and in return I would do the same for your blog. If you want to, my site name is American Legends and the URL is:

www.americanlegends.info

If you want to do this just go to my blog and in one of the comments just write your blog name and the URL and I will add it to my site.

Thanks,
David

deadissue.com said...

Great piece! As much as Wolfie has gone under the radar this week, every dog has his day...

Hoots said...

Thanks for reading. I just came across a great analysis of the Imus flap and linked it on the other post. At some level these two stories are related. I can't quite put my finger on it, but the distinction between rape and seduction comes close.

It hit me yesterday: the difference between Democrats and Republicans is the difference between being raped or seduced. In both cases you get screwed, but there's that little matter of consent.

►►§§§§◄◄

David Stefanini, I looked at your blog. It's an impressive, well-done site which I wish I had time to visit, but I am the world's worst sports fan. If I add your site to my aggregator it wouldn't help your traffic a bit but would be yet another site for me to keep up with. I already have a hard time purging the ones I already read, so yours would simply add to the load. Thanks for your invitation, though.