April 14, 2007Foreign Affairs

Wolfowitz’s selective passion

Was fighting global corruption subordinated to US foreign policy?

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

The New York Times’ David Sanger thinks so:

In foreign capitals, and among the bank’s staff members, it has been noted that Mr. Wolfowitz’s passion for fighting corruption, which he has said saps economic life from the world’s poorest nations, seemed to evaporate when it came to reviewing lending to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, three countries that the United States considers strategically vital. Some longtime bank staff members complained that Mr. Wolfowitz relied too little on experts in international development and too much on a pair of aides who served with him in the administration. [NYT]

Swami Iyer tells us (via email) that the embattled World Bank chief was on very good terms with Shaukat Aziz, Pakistan’s prime minister. Perhaps another reason—not entirely unrelated to the first—to be lenient on Pakistan.

The Indian government, not least the finance minister, has reasons to be pleased with Wolfowitz’s current predicament. Be that as it may, his emphasis on targeting corruption in World Bank funded projects must not be dismissed outright. But like the governments it advises, the Bank must know that the best ideas and intentions may not be the ones that work well on the ground.

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