The World Bank in recent years has been a target of groups that consider it to be an agent of Western corporate capitalism, especially the U.S. variety. Sensitivities abroad are inflamed about the Bush administration's propensity to throw its weight around the world.
Accordingly, the nomination was denounced by many of the groups that came to regard the bank under Wolfensohn as more receptive to their concerns. "Wolfowitz has shown nothing but disdain for collaboration with other countries," said David Waskow, director of the international program at Friends of the Earth. "How's he going to run the World Bank effectively, and to what end?"
Paul D. Wolfowitz and President Bush met in the Oval Office yesterday. Bush nominated Wolfowitz to head the World Bank.
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais -- AP)
Paul D. Wolfowitz
Age: 61 (born Dec. 22, 1943).
Education: Bachelor's degree in mathematics, Cornell University, 1965; doctorate, political science, University of Chicago, 1972.
Experience: Deputy secretary of defense, 2001-present; dean, School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, 1994-2001; taught at the National Defense University, 1993; undersecretary of defense for policy, 1989-93; ambassador to Indonesia, 1986-1989; assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, 1982-1986; headed State Department's policy planning staff, 1981-82; deputy assistant secretary of defense for regional programs, 1977-80; special assistant for Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, 1976-77; with U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1973-77; taught at Yale University, 1970-73.
Family: Three children.
-- Associated Press
Some others, even some who hold Wolfowitz in high esteem, worried that the nomination would crystallize the impression that the bank is an instrument of U.S. foreign policy.
The bank's loans were often used during the Cold War to support dictators friendly to the United States, a reputation the bank has only recently begun to live down.
The Wolfowitz nomination "has broken the myth that this is the World Bank -- it's the American Bank," said Moisés Naím, editor of Foreign Policy magazine and a former representative of Venezuela on the World Bank board. Although he said Wolfowitz is "a man of ideas" who has firsthand knowledge of Third World poverty and can command support from the White House, Naím said Bush "has injected America's image problem in an institution that already had a lot of its own problems."
But Kenneth L. Adelman, a former Reagan administration official, described Wolfowitz as "a perfect fit" who would bring a different philosophy to the World Bank than his predecessors and would be more eager to bypass governments and steer money to private organizations.
"I can't think of a World Bank president who would be as conservative as he would be," Adelman said.
"Socialist governments are going to complain about him but socialist governments don't have a track record of enormous success in helping developing countries," Adelman said.
Some World Bank staff members speculated that Wolfowitz would use the bank's financial clout to advance the goal of spreading democracy, especially in the Middle East.
Wolfowitz, in a phone interview, rejected suggestions that he might change bank policy by, for example, making loans contingent on democratic rule. "When the bank sticks to its knitting and works on poverty reduction, that's just a huge contribution to overall progress," he said. "You certainly don't want to say that this institution, which plays such an important role in fighting the AIDS epidemic in Africa, will have a different agenda" because of concerns about how African countries are ruled.