The hotline between the White House and the World Bank has been ringing furtively after Paul Wolfowitz, America’s man at the top of the agency, resigned. (By agency we mean the Bank, not the White House.) The former US Under-Secretary of Defence, despite America’s defiant stand, was forced to quit for misusing his position to secure a fancy pay-and-promotion package for his girlfriend, bank employee Shaha Riza. The US, which has the ‘traditional’ right to choose the chief of the multilateral bank, has promised that it will announce a candidate to allow an ‘orderly transition’ and will have the World Bank ‘refocused’ on its mission.
That’s some good news for the rest of the world because we cannot deny that we have benefited enormously from the US President’s penchant for ‘orderly’ transitions wherever he has sent his nominees. After all, George W Bush in his shoot-from-the-lip style has assured us over and over again that he is “the decider and he will decide what is best”, even if it meant foisting on us a Bank chief who, on one hand, pursued a campaign against corruption in developing countries, while on the other indulged in nepotism.
While Mr Bush sits in the Oval office poring over the nitty-gritty of poverty alleviation programmes for some Oxbridge Arab feminist, some old Bank officials and aid workers have questioned his right to decide on the Bank chief. That is unfair. Sources tell us that Mr Bush is also considering a non-American, a ‘dogged man’ who is sometimes mistakenly called ‘his poodle’: Tony Blair. The game has just begun.