When Paul Wolfowitz’s name was put forward to become president of the World Bank in 2005, I wrote a piece entitled: “Top 10 Reasons Why Paul Wolfowitz Would Make a Good World Bank President”. As he gracefully steps down from that job, I believe that history has proven me right. Consider the following:
1. He personally helped address the nagging problem of unequal pay for women by giving his “female companion” a $47,000 raise.
2. This past week, he diverted Bush cabinet officials from fighting the Iraq War, spinning Alberto Gonzales, and figuring out a way to invade Iran by keeping them on the phone to foreign governments to defend his proud record.
3. He weakened the Bush administration’s Iraq War brain trust by bringing other key neo-conservative bureaucrats from the Pentagon with him to run the Bank and badger its staff.
4. He buttressed the “Coalition of the Willing” (the brave countries that backed Bush’s invasion of Iraq) by promoting unqualified people from those countries into numerous top positions at the Bank.
5. He managed to convince governments of the world’s eight most powerful countries to give the Bank key global leadership role in the fight against climate change while the Bank continued to be the world’s largest subsidizer of fossil fuels.
6. He made the difficult concept of corruption real to ordinary people.
7. He unified the World Bank staff against a common enemy.
8. He took up so much of The Washington Post the day after tendering his “resignation” that Paris Hilton’s sentencing got pushed to page three of the “Style” section.
9. His scandal drew attention to three decades of terrific work by World Bank critics on everything from the environment to worker rights to family planning to the irony of someone who makes nearly $400,000 offering advice to those who make less than a dollar a day.
10. By resigning before he had to be forklifted out the door, he may have preserved the time-honored tradition of the U.S. government naming the World Bank president, possibly offering the Bush administration an exit strategy for Alberto Gonzales.