Dead Men Left

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Another reason not to trust Brown and Blair on Africa: Paul Wolfowitz

They could have blocked Wolfowitz's appointment to the World Bank.

They didn't.

Here's Blair's private secretary defending Wolfowitz, architect of the Iraq war, to concerned NGOs:

Paul Wolfowitz is a distinguished individual with a great deal of international experience. In his discussions with World Bank Governors, he has set out clearly his personal commitment to the fight against world poverty and the urgent need to make much faster progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in Africa. He recognises that the World Bank, as the leading multilateral development agency, has a vital role to play in achieving these objectives, and he also referred to the urgent need for debt relief.

A reminder about that "international experience":

Wolfowitz has cited his experience as US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs from 1982 to 1986, and as ambassador to Indonesia during the Reagan administration's final three years in the late 1980s.

But details are emerging of how he pandered to Indonesia's dictator, Suharto, who seized power in 1965-66 through a slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people. Rather than express pro-democracy arguments, Wolfowitz did little to stop the military's illegal occupation of East Timor, which resulted in more than 200,000 deaths. He also spent time helping to secure lucrative contracts for US business interests.

Blair was quietly informed of Wolfowitz's nomination by the US some weeks before it was announced. The FT reports that he raised no concerns.

Joe Stiglitz, former chief economist at the World Bank who famously resigned after the IMF's bungled handling of the Asian financial crash, describes the appointment:

"This is an act of provocation by America, or an act so insensitive as to look like provocation...The World Bank will once again become a hate figure. This could bring street protests and violence across the developing world"

In all honesty, would a man genuinely concerned about development issues have nodded through Paul Wolfowitz?