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March 16, 2005

Wolfowitz: Dreaming of Nixon to China
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

A newspaper writer just asked what I think of Wolfowitz for the World Bank.  The sad thing is, in a different Bush Administration, he might have been an interesting Nixon-to-China type of appointment, instead of the lightning rod of anti-US sentiment that he’s going to turn out to be.  Here’s why:

He’s very, very smart.

He is – or at least used to be – genuinely intellectually open and thoughtful.  Sitting at a Washington NGO a few years back, I watched him make time again and again for a left-ish international figure whose insights on Asia he respected.  Not too many folks around town do that, Democrat or Republican.

He doesn’t lack courage or independence.  Remember, this is the American Jew whom the Bush Administration sent out to speak to fiercely pro-Israel demonstrators a couple years back – and who got booed for telling them that Palestinians suffer too?

He’s actually had some developing-world experience – as Ambassador to Indonesia– and is in a position to understand as well as anyone the complex but real links among indignity, poverty and insecurity.

Obviously, though, he’s not a captive of the development community, a plus for two reasons:  first, influence with this Administration.  Second, the Bank and the international financial institutions need a profound re-thinking and modernization.  Someday, someone is going to come along and lead a deep and difficult process of making them relevant to the global concerns of 2050, not 1950.  Many good people have exhausted huge effort on making piecemeal changes.  Some of it has worked, especially at the Bank; but everything from how the institutions raise money to whether they lend it or give it away needs another look.  The US needs to make sure we are in on the ground floor of this re-think with someone who can bring our government along behind.

But I’m dreaming.  Wolfowitz is not that person.  Apparently, his rapport with President Bush is not so good.  We can’t hope that he would be able to influence the President on matters such as meeting the pledges he’s made on funding for AIDS or supporting the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, much less on broader issues.

More important, of course, he has seemed perfectly pleased to be portrayed as the architect of the Iraq war, the episodic mayhem that has followed it, and all the larger posturings that have not yet followed  (Iran, Syria).  So it is fair enough that his name will be received with disdain and dismay by the countries that are the most reliable aid donors as well as many that are perennial recipients.  Quite understandable if our friends see this as one more “dis,” not as the effort to give Wolfowitz an honorable exit that it may well be.

Europeans say that Wolfowitz’s name was circulated informally a few weeks ago, and that their response was negative.  We shall see whether enough homework has been done to head off an ugly fight – or whether, again, these folks just don’t care.  That’s too bad for the future of the Bank; it’s too bad for the US image in the world; and at some level it’s even too bad for Wolfowitz.  Genuinely good minds -- even neo-con ones -- are too hard to come by to waste on this kind of wrangling.


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dearest, most loved heather, of Jacob's sarah

with ‘wolfi’ at first one may not like his style, one needs to remain as impartial as possible, until one can begin to learn how to appreciate him as an American. you're the one we could introduce to our parents to explain where the family fortunes are going, because in doing so we could continue to support the bawdy absolutely illiterate ladies at the corner who simply like us as we platonically like. forgive me, wolfi, just months ago mentioned to chucky the rose how remarkably 'fond' el Salvador turned out after losing 5% of its ruling class, and by the grace of our lord, [freedom of speech], suggested the same for the nuevo euros, it was the balls of wolfi, the seed, who moved a grand dame of grand class to state dept. protection, away from counterfeit euros. heather, some day we hope a gentleman will come along and rescue you in a similar charming and unmistakable way, unto thyself be true, and permit the grace of lords reason for gentlemen handing over their ribs unto the lord after complaining they 'felt' alone. you are given unto lexicon grace by virtue of your own expression, please update your web site, those west of the Mississippi when a two year lapse occurs worry about the nutrients thou art imbibing and immediately double check where rocker-feller, farben and du pont are. please. no more than three glasses of wine, look what happended to Noah, and even some Franciscan Brothers, we tend to look after government people, Heather, our servants, in a manner 'different' than yours, we cover them and even protect them when needed-any which way but lose - they are our 4%, why throw then to the wolves. submitted with the highest respect for what you have attained and a sincere desire you exercise it with attentive blogg currency. forever your friends waiting patiently

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