Paul Wolfowitz, a chief architect of the Iraq war and the epitome of corruption, resigned his post as president of the World Bank yesterday in a deal with the international aid institution's board that allows him to be absolved of any wrongdoing in violating bank rules--in spite of that same board's official ruling that he did, in fact, violate bank rules by giving his employee-girlfriend an undeserved and unearned promotion and raise. They should have just fired his sorry, punk ass. They had the authority, and the right, and they should have let Wolfowitz endure that humiliation which he had earned for himself.
To recap: When he was appointed president of the World Bank, Wolfowitz abused his position to give his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, a promotion and a raise that the employee neither earned or deserved. Riza had previously been passed over for the post in question because she was unqualified for it. So Wolfowitz, long accustomed to breaking the rules and getting away with it, did just that. He used his influence as the World Bank's president to move her into the position she desired, cutting the bank out of the decision-making process (and proceeded to give Riza a raise in pay that far exceeded what anyone else would have been entitled to). Last week, the board found that Wolfowitz had indeed violated a number of bank rules. His refusal to resign led to a showdown in which the bank's credibility had been placed in jeopardy--all because he is a selfish, soulless creature who thinks, just like everyone else in the Bush regime, that he is above the rules and shouldn't be punished for breaking them. Wolfowitz, like his comrades in the regime, lacks that one critical element that separates human beings from other animals: a conscience.
So why did the World Bank, after weeks of a standoff in which its very ability to perform its duties as a body that provides aid to countries in need, let him off the hook with a full exoneration--in direct contradiction of its previous finding? If Wolfowitz did nothing wrong, as the terms of this face-saving deal (for him) states, then why was he forced to resign? That's the question David Corn asks at The Nation. The World Bank, anxious to avoid a final showdown by firing Wolfowitz with its ability to do so, lied in order to get him to go in a manner that made things easier for itself. And the result is that the financial institution's credibility has suffered even more: for first having issued an honest ruling that found a violator of bank rules in violation of those rules, and then making a deal with that violator that dishonestly clears him of wrongdoing for the sake of expediency.
As John Nichols--also of The Nation--writes (rather angrily, which is understandable under the circumstances), '[a]s the poet, anti-apartheid campaigner and long-time champion of African development Dennis Brutus says, "Wolfowitz's arrogance, his insistence that any problems were the result of his colleagues' actions, never his own, were a perfect match for the World Bank, which has always refused to take responsibility for its own disastrous policies and projects, laying blame instead with the borrowing country, even though the common denominator in so many botched projects, violations of human rights, and failed policy packages has been the presence of the World Bank. The combination of war and economic crimes for which he was responsible, made Wolfowitz an appropriate symbol for the institution."'
Nichols goes on to write, 'When he had finished scheming to – in his words -- "take proper advantage" of the 9-11 attacks by creating the quagmire that is Iraq, there really was no place for Wolfowitz to go but the World Bank. He had the perfect resume: As blind to the suffering of others as George Bush, as foul-mouthed as Dick Cheney, as manipulative as Karl Rove, as delusional as Donald Rumsfeld, he was perfectly qualified for the move from making war on the poor with bombs to making war on the poor with "structural-adjustment" policies.'
It seems now that the World Bank really isn't any different than Wolfowitz, the latter of which is about as corrupt and evil as it can get; by refusing to fire him, and instead choosing to make a board room deal that lets Wolfowitz off the hook for deliberately violating its rules, the World Bank has proven as much. And now the bank's already devastated credibility is hurt even further. Wolfowitz went there with the intention, not of cleaning up any corruption, but of usurping it for his own morally bankrupt personal schemes.
So now he's gone, but the taint he left behind remains. And the World Bank let it happen, helping its soon-to-be-former liar-in-chief murder the Truth once again. If the bank really wanted to resolve this scandal properly, it should have shown true integrity by firing Wolfowitz instead of letting him get away with his misdeeds.