Last week developing world as well as the developed one learned that the president of the most important development agency of the world has made arrangement for a companion of his to benefit from a rather large raise, suitable contract terms and guarantees that similar officers of her position could only dream of. This has enraged the World Bank Staff Association and media have reported that many might expect Dr. Wolfowitz to step down and some actually have already called for his resignation. Ironically Dr. Wolfowitz has begun his tenure as the president of the World Bank by adopting an anti-corruption stance that has cut the Bank loans to many developing countries.
While finance ministers of the world gather together to start the annual spring, the powerful board of the World Bank has expressed “great concern” about institution’s future. Meanwhile Dr. Wolfowitz has vowed to stay on the job because he believes in the mission of the World Bank and considers himself capable of carrying it out. However there is no doubt that Dr. Wolfowitz has exaggerated his capability and overestimated his credibility, which is declined significantly since last week revelations.
The writer does not have any doubt that Dr. Wolfowitz sincerely believes in the mission of the World Bank. However for the sake of the very same mission he should let someone else lead this most illustrious organization. Should he survives his presence will damage the World Bank reputation and its credibility in the developing countries.
One should not forget that the success of the World Bank plans and achieving its stated “Millennium Goals” depends on so many factors. More than anything it depends on their acceptance by millions who live in developing countries, most of whom are traditionally family oriented and truly conservative in their habits of life.
It would be extremely naïve to think that everyone in the developing countries welcomes the World Bank projects and plans. Any talk of privatization alarms those who are benefiting from subsidies and governments rents. Any talk of efficiency threatens the government officials who are on the jobs because of their political connections and not because of their efficiency. Any step toward diminishing male-female gaps in employment and income threatens those who believe in their traditional way of life. Thus there is always a battle between those who seek sustainable development and those who consider themselves righteous in preserving the status quo.
Although Dr. Wolfowitz believes in the mission of the World Bank his actions have strengthened the position of those who oppose the World Bank projects. Already too many consider the World Bank to be an agent of an imperialistic power. Many smart politicians use that negative image to cripple its efforts in combating poverty. Dr. Wolfowitz has added to this negative image these actions only justifiable by personal feelings of a nature that millions of people in developing countries do not consider justifiable. Thus he should go to save the mission and to respect those who make this mission a sacred one; the truest and the most noble of all crusades.
International Herald Tribune