Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The End Game

The end of Paul Woilfowtiz's career as president of the World bank is now in sight, all that is happening now is an elaborate negotiation about the terms on which he should leave.

On Tuesday evening, after World Bank directors accused Wolfowitz of breaking ethics rules in negotiating a promotion and salary raise for his companion, Wolfowitz pleaded with them to give him another chance.

Wolfowitz urged directors to separate the specific mistakes he may have made in handling his companion's reassignment, and larger questions about his contentious two-year tenure at the bank.

"If you want to have a discussion about my leadership, my management style and the policies I support, let's do it.

That's fair. That's legitimate. But let's get past this conflict-of-interest matter that was resolved over a year ago

This last minute plea is unlikely to save him, as President Bush has now signalled that he is prepared to "allow" (in Bush's mind he has the power to keep Wolfowitz in situ - he does not) Wolfowitz to resign.

Bush has let it be known, that he would "allow" resignation if the bank board dropped its insistence to declare him unfit to remain in office.

However, as with many "new initiatives" and "changes of mind" that Bush proposes, this is too little too late. The majority of the countries who fund the bank are absolutely against allowing an easy opt out for Wolfowtiz, partly this being a reaction against Bush and his administration's unilateralism over the past 6 years.

It seems that the board will endorse the findings of a special committee that Wolfowitz broke bank rules, ethics and governance standards in arranging for, and concealing, a pay and promotion package for his companion, Shaha Ali Riza, in 2005.

Now is the time for Wolfowtiz to bring his lawyers in to discuss his severance package.

Another mess caused by the ineptitude of the Bush administration, that will have consequences for America's relationship with the rest of the world.

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