Thursday, May 17, 2007

What's Love Got to Do With It?

While this story is quite played out in the media, I feel the overwhelming need to weigh in on it. Of course I am talking about the now disgraced president (until June 30) of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz. You may remember Mr. Wolfowitz from his former post as US Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Bush Administration. The BBC calls him the "most hawkish of the so-called neo-conservatives in the Republican Party" and "one of the main architects of the invasion of Iraq in 2003." We cannot forget his great piece of work - the Wolfowitz Doctrine - leaked in 1992 which he wrote with the help of none other than Scooter Libby. In it, the two describe how the world should be made up of one superpower (read: America) and that, through military might and preemptive action, no other country should be able to become a world power. This is the type of thinking that led America into Iraq in 2003, as many have labeled the Wolfowitz Doctrine the Bush Doctrine. In his infinite wisdom, George Bush put Wolfowitz in the president's seat at the world bank, knowing full-well his attitudes towards non-American nations. Europe, obviously, was not pleased with this decision, but America is the largest stake holder in the bank and thus gets to appoint its president.

So Wolfowitz somehow got appointed to this post that is supposed to promote the growth and prosperity of other countries despite his feelings towards retarding the growth and prosperity of other countries. Wolfowitz's appointment to president seemed inappropriate from the start not only because of his previous musings on world domination, but also because, as president he would become the boss of Shaha Riza, his girlfriend. At first, Wolfowitz told the bank that he wanted to recuse himself from all personnel matters involving Riza, but insisted that he be allowed to conduct professional business, something that the bank denied him. So, instead of accepting that and doing his job as he was supposed to, he decided to get directly involved in Riza's role and get her not only a transfer to the State Department, but kept her on the bank's payroll and got her a raise to about $193,000 untaxed, which is higher than Condoleezza Rice's ($186,000) and, if it were $193,000 after taxes, would equal a salary of just under $265,000. So initially Wolfowitz wanted to stay out of anything involving Riza and personnell, but decided that the best thing to do would be to transfer her and give her a raise, all the while not letting anyone know about it.

Obviously when the bank staff found out about this they did not take kindly to it. The result has been a long, drawn out scandal that has seen a lot of media play. It has peaked today, as Wolfowitz has announced his decision to voluntarily step down from the post on June 30 of this year, all the while denying any wrongdoing and demanding that his name be cleared. Not only that, but Wolfowitz has blamed the rules and the lack of transparency at the World Bank for his downfall. It's true, had the rules not been there and had he not been able to break them without people knowing he wouldn't have broken them in the first place. But in all seriousness, Wolfowitz broke the rules, had to know that he was breaking them as he did it, and now he is complaining that he is being "smeared" and did not try to conceal anything from anyone. The worst part is, Wolfowitz is supposedly fighting for a generous severance package from the bank. His contract requires a year's salary ($302,470 with the bank paying the taxes on it and a $141,290 expense account) following termination, but, as the New York Times reports, it is not known whether his resignation is equal to a termination. Additionally, while Wolfowitz says he will stay in his position until June 30 (end of the fiscal year), many within the World Bank have called for him to step down immediately and many have said that he has given up the majority of his responsibilities there. The ball is now in George W. Bush's court, as he is poised to choose the next leader of the World Bank. This does not bode well for the bank and its European members, as they originally opposed Wolfowitz's appointment and Bush has publicly supported Wolfowitz throughout this whole ordeal. Wolfowitz, a man who many have argued was unfit for the job in the first place, has proved himself to be inadequate when it comes to running the World Bank. It is clear through his actions and those he surrounds himself with (i.e. Scooter Libby), that the man is corrupt and deserves to lose his job and receive no severance package. Besides, he could just move in with his girlfriend. I heard she just got a raise. Peace.

Photos - Top: Paul Wolfowitz (, Middle: Shaha Riza (, Bottom: Cash money (

No comments:

Post a Comment