Monday, May 28, 2007

Where's Wolfie?

Nick on Paul Wolfowitz:

The figures don't justify the cost-cutting charge - World Bank lending has risen on Wolfowitz's watch - but I think I understand the roots of the disquiet he generates. Wolfowitz is a conservative who, during his career, has championed democracy in the Philippines and Indonesia, feminism in Iran and opposition to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, causes that were once the preserve of the liberal-left.
Once, when book editors were heaping deserved praise on Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi’s poignant account of educated women suffering under the Iranian mullahs, I managed to silence a literary dinner party for the first and I suspect only time in my life by asking if they realised the 'Paul' Nafisi had dedicated her book to was Paul Wolfowitz.
That aid money shouldn't go to bloated elites is something the liberal-left supports. Indeed, it was James Wolfensohn, Wolfowitz's liberal-minded predecessor who first said that the World Bank must take corruption seriously. Wolfowitz unnerves people because he behaves as if he means it and throws up intractable dilemmas in the process.

What price solidarity now? Would a column on Wolfie hurt so much? Boy, is he getting a bad press. Radaronline:

Spit-shined former deputy secretary of defense and World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz blames bad press rather than massive ethical and moral lapses for his downfall.

And is superb.

Wolfowitz is a bold break from tradition* blamed the media.

Will no one stand up for the beleaguered World Bank President? The short, portly gentleman.

What could be easier to understand? A highly qualified individual, compelled to leave her job for reasons entirely unconnected to her performance—and forced also to undergo bureaucratic scrutiny of her private life...

Yet this happens quite regularly in public appointments (and in private banks, where conflict of interest is taken seriously): if by private life, Mr Hitchens (for it is he) means family connections and personal investments, having these scrutinised is usually a condition of employment. It's not persecution.

I'm not convinced by Hitchens' argument, nor am I convinced by Wolfowitz's own 'media' defence. But at least Hitchens takes up the fight.

*Warning: irony.


Blogger Matthew said...

Just in case there are people stumbling across this, you should probably point out that Nick's claim that "the 'Paul' Nafisi had dedicated her book to was Paul Wolfowitz" is a Nick fantasy (the Observer removed the column, its a shame Nick hasn't), which is probably why the other guests were stunned into silence.

5/28/2007 08:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is also a fantasy that Wolfie "championed democracy in the Philippines and Indonesia". In the case of the Philippines, he championed democracy by , against the wishes of local religious figure Cardinal Sin (his real name), approving US amrs shipments to President Marcos. Jaime Sin pointed out Marcos would just use the weapons to shoot at pro-democracy Indonesians.

5/28/2007 09:25:00 PM  

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