MartiniPundit

Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

What Is It about this President They Don’t Get?

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The Washington Post is reporting a roundup of European reaction to the nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank. I tend to lump the World Bank (and the IMF) in the same category as the UN – institutions that cause more harm than good. Beloved of liberals and Europeans, these are places for cushy bureaucrats to line their pockets and make lots of noise about how deeply they care about the poor in the Third World (when not sexually abusing its people) and how awful the United States is. But the willful cluelessness reported in the WaPo is truly amusing. It begins with:

“We were led to believe that the neoconservatives were losing ground,” said Michael Cox, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics. “But clearly the revolution is alive and well.”

Well, yeah, Professor, we had that thing called an election a few months ago. You remember? It was in all the papers for a while. That rube from Texas won, not the sophisticate from Massachusetts.

Some Europeans who closely follow U.S. politics said the Wolfowitz choice, coming the week after Bush selected outspoken diplomat John R. Bolton as his U.N. ambassador, could be a sign that the president is moving to placate his more conservative supporters.

Rice and Hughes at State, Bolton at the UN, Wolfowitz at the World Bank – placating his “conservative supporters.” For people supposedly so much smarter than we are, these guys miss a lot. President Bush is reining in those institutions which have opposed him and hampered his policies. He’s putting people he knows and trusts in positions of power over institutions he knows and mistrusts. This is calling governing.

“There are two interpretations” of the selection of Wolfowitz, said Guillaume Parmentier, who heads the French Center on the United States, a research organization in Paris. “One is the optimistic one — that this is going to take him away from U.S. policy. . . . The pessimistic interpretation is that this administration has to give sop to the far right. There was Bolton and now Wolfowitz — where does it stop?”

In your worst nightmare Pierre. He is the far right. Bwuhahahahaha!

Statements from private environmental and aid organizations were largely hostile. The environmental group Greenpeace called it “a disaster to put the World Bank, which should be delivering sustainable development, into the hands of a man who clearly will put U.S. and oil industry interests first.”

Check, Rainbow Warriors, are all for “sustainable development” as long as not a leaf is clipped in the process, but it’s hard to imagine them having anything good to say about the President. (These are the guys who manage to find a “rainforest” in Alaska. Hey, they’ve worked really hard to turn that word into a Pavlovian Bell so one can’t fault them too much for ringing it at every opportunity.)

ActionAid, a British- and South African-based aid organization, called the nomination “an unwelcome step.” Referring to the selection system, Patrick Watt, a policy officer with the group, said in a statement that the announcement “speaks volumes for the need to reform a process which is neither transparent nor based on merit. . . . As well as lacking any relevant experience, he is a deeply divisive figure who is unlikely to move the Bank towards a more pro-poor agenda.”

Yes, that’s the Republican agenda all right, we’re anti-poor. We’re so anti-poor we want everyone to have the opportunity to escape poverty. This guy apparently likes having poverty around so much he’s got a “pro-poor agenda.” At least Greenpeace pays lip-service to development.

“Let’s face it, in this administration we’re not going to get . . . Mother Teresa or the Dalai Lama,” he said. “Given that, there are a lot of people who’d be a hell of a lot worse than Wolfowitz.” [Mark Leonard, director of foreign policy of the Center for European Reform]

Or Kofi Annan? Oh, sorry. He’s busy. Well, to give Mr. Leonard his due, he did say we could do worse, how ’bout Donald Rumsfeld? Boo!

Francois Heisbourg, a leading French defense analyst who knows Wolfowitz, said … “He does have the breadth of experience and range of interests that could serve him well in this kind of soft-power job,” Heisbourg said. “He’s probably more suited to this soft-power position than his hard-power position at the Pentagon.”

Ah, there they go again, misunderestimating the President. Wasn’t ‘soft power’ supposed to be the European specialty? Of course, some of us have already suggested the Euros have missed the boat on that. All this handwringing suggests the President is making some brilliant choices. The last thing we need at this point is to preserve the status quo, not in the Middle East, not in government, and certainly not in the world’s ‘multi-lateral’ institutions. When so many people in favor of the status quo are upset, you can bet your Stetson you’ve done good.

Update Captain Ed has a few choice words on the subject. As does Soxblog:

My only concern about this move is can Defense spare him? He’s the visionary (at least as much as Rumsfeld) who’s gotten us to the brink of achieving some really great stuff. Along the way, he’s become the focus of global anti-Semitism, a badge of honor that he has worn courageously and with remarkable dignity. As far as this choice being a thumb in the eye to all of the neo-cons’ critics out there, my concern for those critics’ sensitivities ranks somewhere below my worry for the caribou.

Heh. And reaction roundup over at the Jawa Report.

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Written by martinipundit

March 17, 2005 at 10:35 pm

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