Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A Wolf at the Door of the World Bank

Or a Wolfowitz, but it was hard to not use the wordplay.  The interesting thing to me is how quickly opposition polarized based on Paul Wolfowitz’s record within the Bush administration on Iraq policy. I’ve been particularly hard on him for his role and can’t say I’m his biggest fan, not on Iraq. In a before-we-went-to-war commentary I named Paul as “one of the five” who were taking us to a war no one wanted, that would serve no preventive terrorist purpose and would cost us an arm and a leg both in terms of casualties and money.


Having said all that, is it relevant regarding the World Bank Presidency?


You might call this a reach, but if I don’t happen to care for Tiger Wood’s politics (and I don’t know his politics) does that make him any less effective a golfer?  Does being liberal, conservative, new-age or Presbyterian add or detract anything to his 300 yard drives?  In another example, I don’t have to agree with my surgeon’s aggressive opinions at a dinner party and the wreck his marriage has come to be to trust him with removal of my gallbladder.  These days a huge and growing number of personally disagreeable executives have run excellent companies.  Okay, that last example is a stretch, but you get my drift.


Wolfowitz, from all that’s been said or written of him by friend or foe, has a formidable intellect.  That (I would like to think) allows him to separate and compartmentalize disparate issues such as the World Bank’s focus on alleviating world poverty and his participation in the administration focus (or lack thereof) on Iraq.  Candidates often surprise when they get elected, selected, chosen or appointed, a good example being Arnold Schwartzenegger who surprised us all and perhaps even himself.


Wolfowitz has no reason to want this job beyond his stated determination to bring all his skills into focus doing something that is important to him personally, alleviating poverty in third-world countries. He says that’s what he wants to do.  He claims to understand he is an employee, answering to the Board of Directors.


It might be well to listen to what Wolfowitz says about his plans for the bank, rather than jump to any ill-conceived conclusions.  My old daddy had a tree-nursery that was such tough clay you could hardly stick a spade in the ground.  But everything that came out of that nursery grew just fine . . . daddy claimed it was because the trees were so damned glad to be elsewhere. 


Paul Wolfowitz might be just like one of those trees.