The saga surrounding the ouster of Paul Wolfowitz as President of the World Bank was nothing more than blow back against the US' Iraq War Policy and the assertion of the bureaucratic elites desire not to be reformed. Thus the career of an idealistic Wilsonian liberal dies in the fog of war and allegations of influence peddling for a mistress. Wolfowitz was the right man for the World Bank but his own arrogance eventually did him in. But someone of his ideals and vision deserved better if not for him, but for the sake of the World Bank and the mission it supposedly serves.
My perspective as a Foreign Policy realist is that Wolfowitz's liberalism (cloaked by the American media as "neo-conservatism") was both dangerous for the United States and destructive to the relationships between nations worldwide. Nonetheless, Wolfowitz must be commended for his leadership against Slobadon Milosevic's genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo as well as his advocacy for Democracy in the Middle East, and his general understanding of the Muslim world in a nation that has little understanding of Islam. As a son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, Wolfowitz has kept memories of the Holocaust as a guiding factor in much of his foreign policy thinking. This is precisely why he was so eager to confront Milosevic militarily as the despot's attempts to exterminate his Muslim population began in 1991. When George H.W. Bush was defeated in the 1992 election, Wolfowitz continued his crusade against Milosevic rallying support for the Bosnian Muslims in the US and urging congress to arm the Muslim forces in Bosnia and Kosovo. (Ironically since the US refused to arm the Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims, Iran filled the void and gained influence in Europe which is obviously contrary to American interests.)
For years the World Bank has failed in its mission to provide leadership in combating worldwide poverty. Much like the United Nations, the bank has been beset by corruption and bureaucratic turf wars. While the World Bank does much good work, it doesn't do nearly enough good work for the amount of resources and talented staff invested in it. Wolfowitz's own arrogance and sledgehammer got him in trouble. By trying to reform an institution that didn't want to be reformed and was filled with Bush haters he opened the door to his own demise. His arrogance of conducting an open relationship with Shaha Riza gave his opponents all they needed to dispose of him. However, the World Bank and the nation's that depend on its aid are ultimately the losers, because Wolfowitz unlike so many of his American predecessors who became President of the Bank actually cared about getting aid to the third world. For Wolfowitz, the World Bank wasn't just cushy reward for political loyalty but a real mission and a place where his liberal world view could be implemented. It's a pity he didn't act with more humility for the greater good, because he may have been the last best hope for a broken institution.
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- I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.