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The World Gags on Wolfowitz

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"The World Gags on Wolfowitz"

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World leaders and development experts recoiled in unison at the prospect of neocon hawk Paul Wolfowitz running the World Bank. ThinkProgress catalogues their responses:

Government Officials

Sources close to the World Bank board said Wolfowitz’s name was informally circulated several weeks ago among the 23-member board, which represents the bank’s 184 member countries, and the reaction was made clear to U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow. “Mr. Snow knows that the reaction from the board was unfavorable,” one source said. “Mr. Wolfowitz’s nomination today tells us the U.S. couldn’t care less what the rest of the world thinks.” [Reuters]

Recalling Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s dismissive term for countries opposed to the war, German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said the “storm of enthusiasm in old Europe is muted.” [Bloomberg]

In Germany, Michael Mƒ¼ller, the Social Democrats’ deputy parliamentary leader, described the choice as “horrifying.” “Wolfowitz is a hawk who has repeatedly proved that he is a firebrand,” he went on. [Deutche Welle]

inister Michel Barnier described the nomination as a “proposal” which would be examined. [AFP]

Sweden’s minister of International Development Cooperation, Carin Jaemtin, said she was “very skeptical” with the choice, telling Swedish news agency TT that she had hoped for a candidate who would carry out the policies of outgoing bank President James Wolfensohn. [Associated Press]

The chair of the Development Committee of the European Parliament, Louisa Morgantini, has written on behalf of her committee calling on European governments “to open up the process to accept other candidates.” [WorldBankPresident.org]

Mexican President Vincente Fox called the choice “a good proposal,” but added, “there may be others. There are people of great value.” [Reuters]

U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair “will wait and see if there are any other candidates” for World Bank chief before deciding whether to back Wolfowitz, his spokeswoman said today in London. [Bloomberg]

Thomas Steg, a spokesman for German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, said it “remains to be seen” whether Germany will back Wolfowitz’s nomination.

Development experts and Aid Organizations

“It’s time for other candidates to come forward that have experience in development,” Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and an Annan adviser, said in a speech to the U.N. Economic and Social Council. “This is a position on which hundreds of millions of people depend for their lives,” he said. “Let’s have a proper leadership of professionalism.” [Associated Press]

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winner and a former World Bank chief economist, said: “Choosing the right general in the war against poverty will not assure victory, but choosing the wrong one surely increases the chances of failure.” [AFP]

“As well as lacking any relevant experience, he is a deeply divisive figure who is unlikely to move the bank toward a more pro-poor agenda,” said Patrick Watt, policy officer at British charity Action Aid. [Associated Press]

Dave Timms, spokesman for London-based World Development Network, called it a “terrifying appointment” that highlighted a lack of democracy in major lending institutions. “You can’t have a situation where rich countries lecture developing countries about democracy and then aren’t prepared to exercise democracy in this kind of appointment.” [Associated Press]

“We are deeply concerned,” said Neil Watkins, national coordinator of the Washington-based Jubilee USA Network, an aid group that advocates debt relief. “We fear his nomination signals a move toward an even stronger push for harmful economic policies and large projects.” [Bloomberg]

“The administration in power will put people in charge who fit their world view,” said Matt Phillips, head of public affairs at Save the Children UK. “So clearly the Bush administration is going to put a Bush appointee into its little fiefdom at the World Bank.” [AFP]

Considered a hawk for his strong defense of U.S. involvement in Iraq, other aid groups viewed the choice of Wolfowitz “as a truly terrifying appointment,” said Peter Hardstaff of the World Development Movement. [AFP]

CEE Bankwatch Network, a group of 10 European non-governmental organizations that monitor international lending to former Soviet bloc countries, expressed dismay at the choice of Wolfowitz. “The nomination reflects a low point in the overall selection process for the World Bank’s top job,” said the group’s spokesman Greg Aitken. [AFP]

“Wolfowitz has been seen as a symbol of the go-it-alone approach of the Bush administration,” said Devesh Kapur, a Harvard political scientist and co-author of the official history of the World Bank. “Along with the nomination of Bolton, the US is putting the biggest sceptics of multilateralism in charge.” [Financial Times]

“We consider the choice of Wolfowitz utterly inappropriate to lead such a key institution,” said Jeff Powell, co-ordinator of the Bretton Woods Project, a watchdog non-governmental organisation. “This appointment will only serve to confirm suspicions that the World Bank is a tool of US foreign policy.” [Financial Times]

“I was astonished,” said William Easterly, a former World Bank economist whose 2001 book criticizing the institution was cited by Bush officials as evidence of why it needs to change. “This is so much a finger in the eye of the rest of the world.” [Bloomberg]

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