Saturday, April 14, 2007

Incredulity of the Bush Administration

No one should be surprised at this point, I guess. But I'm struck at the reluctance of the Bush administration to even back down from something so minor as the World Bank President. Rarely is the evidence of hypocritical misgovernance laid so bare.

The World Bank's leading campaign is to promote "good governance" and to stamp out corruption that impedes economic and institutional development, ultimately (ostensibly) leading to poverty reduction. Then the World Bank president, Paul Wolfowitz--appointed by the President and ratified by the leading economic powers in Europe--made corrupt dealings to provide kickbacks to his lover. Oops.

This raises a serious question: How stupid is Paul Wolfowitz? Did he really think no one would notice? Should someone this dumb be leading the world's fight against poverty?

Competency aside, the President is sticking to his guns:

in an apparent hardening of the White House position, a spokesperson said “the president has full confidence in Paul Wolfowitz’’ adding “we expect him to remain as World Bank president.’

It's not surprising (to me at least) the Bushies see nothing wrong with Wolfowitz's behavior, but what is surprising is how they choose their fights. It's hard to see what political capital the President might loose by jumping on the axe-Wolfowitz bandwagon. In the big scheme of the Bush legacy at this moment in his presidency, one might think that a political fight over the puppet at the top of the World Bank is of little significance. On the contrary, Bush looses political capital every time he avows to keeping Wolfowitz in. The political calculation doesn't make sense.

But wait. Movement neo-conservatives don't like any international institutions--even ones that were created to faciliate the expansion of US imperialism. Keeping a tarnished Wolfowitz in office is a painless way to crumble the institutional efficacy of the World Bank. Whether by design or default, the refusal to remove Wolfowitz will effect this result. Ah, now it makes sense. Wolfowitx and his bosses are stupid. Why else would they attack a strong institution built for the cause of American financial capital?

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