Friday, March 18, 2005
The White House announced the selection of Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank, replacing John Wolfensohn who retires as acting president after 10 years. The switch is expected to occur sometime in June.
The choice of Wolfowitz is raising controversy in Europe and developing nations. Known as hawkish and outspoken, Wolfowitz was a pro-Iraqi war neo-conservative in his role as deputy Secretary of Defense, and a chief architect in the build up to war with Iraq. Some question whether Wolfowitz, who was criticized for brushing aside European and NATO calls for caution before the Iraq war, would use the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as tool to extend U.S. foreign policy interests.
Historically, it has been the White House’s prerogative to name the candidate because the U.S. holds a majority on the 24 member board, but board members from nations other than the U.S. are seeking their own interviews to qualify the candidate before a change is made. “The executive directors have agreed to conduct informal meetings over the coming days with the US nominee as part of the consultative process.” the IMF said in a statement. “Thereafter, the executive directors will meet in a formal session to select the president at which time an official announcement of the outcome will be made,” it said. The vote is set for March 31, the same day Wolfensohn retires.
Rob Nichols, the US Treasury spokesperson, said Wolfowitz has begun scheduling meetings with board members and that, “Our nominee… looks forward to meeting with and listening to members of the World Bank board.” Reuters reported. In the meantime, Wolfowitz has worked to assure those with concerns of him, saying he would come with an open mind and no political program.