Bush names Zoellick to head World Bank

Robert Zoellick, a Goldman Sachs executive who has built contacts around the globe as President Bush's trade chief and as the country's No. 2 diplomat, is the White House's choice to be the next World Bank president.

Bush was to announce the decision Wednesday, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of Bush's announcement.

Zoellick, 53, would succeed Paul Wolfowitz, who is stepping down June 30 after findings by a special bank panel that he broke bank rules when he arranged a hefty compensation package in 2005 for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, a bank employee.

The controversy led to calls for Wolfowitz to resign from the poverty-fighting institution.

A seasoned veteran of politics both inside the Beltway and on the international stage, Zoellick is known for pulling facts and figures off the top of his head. He also has a reputation for being a demanding boss.

Bush's selection of Zoellick must be approved by the World Bank's 24-member board.

The bank's board in a statement late Tuesday made no mention of Zoellick by name and noted that any executive director could nominate a candidate. The board said it was essential that the next president, among other things, have "political objectivity and independence."

Zoellick announced last June that he was leaving his post as deputy secretary of state to join the Wall Street firm of Goldman Sachs and work to develop investment markets around the world.

If ultimately approved as World Bank chief, Zoellick will need to regain trust, rebuild credibility and mend frayed relations inside the institution as well as with its member countries around the world.

All those matters are critical for the bank's new leader, who will have to persuade countries to contribute nearly $30 billion over the next few years to fund a centerpiece bank program that provides interest-free loans to the world's poorest countries.

"The test of Zoellick is whether he manages to turn around the bank, which has been in huge disarray," said Elizabeth Stuart, senior policy adviser for Oxfam International, a group involved in helping the world's poor.

Zoellick could build upon strong relations he has developed worldwide as deputy secretary and U.S. Trade Representative. He was involved in peace talks in Sudan and as USTR he played a key role in negotiations to bring China into the World Trade Organization. He forged free trade deals between the United States and other countries, including Singapore, Chile, Australia and Morocco.

Some global health and environment groups expressed concerns over Zoellick as the next bank chief.

Peru, however, welcomed the selection.

"My impression is that it's a good choice President Bush is making," Peruvian Foreign Trade Minister Mercedes Araoz told The Associated Press. "He was a driving force of the U.S. trade agenda in seeking association with developing countries, among them Peru."

The Wolfowitz episode threw the bank's staff into a revolt, strained relations with the Europeans, and threatened to tarnish the bank's reputation and hobble its ability to fight poverty.

Before taking the helm in 2005, Wolfowitz was the No. 2 official at the Pentagon and played a key role in mapping out the war in Iraq. From the beginning, Europeans and others were upset that Bush would pick someone to run the bank who was so closely associated with the war.

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On the Net:

The World Bank http://www.worldbank.org/

2 Responses to "Bush names Zoellick to head World Bank"

  1. Boots  May 30, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    PNAC letters sent to President Bill Clinton

    January 26, 1998

    The Honorable William J. Clinton
    President of the United States
    Washington, DC

    Dear Mr. President:

    We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War. In your upcoming State of the Union Address, you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for meeting this threat. We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world. That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power. We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.

    The policy of “containment” of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months. As recent events have demonstrated, we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War coalition to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections. Our ability to ensure that Saddam Hussein is not producing weapons of mass destruction, therefore, has substantially diminished. Even if full inspections were eventually to resume, which now seems highly unlikely, experience has shown that it is difficult if not impossible to monitor Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons production. The lengthy period during which the inspectors will have been unable to enter many Iraqi facilities has made it even less likely that they will be able to uncover all of Saddam’s secrets. As a result, in the not-too-distant future we will be unable to determine with any reasonable level of confidence whether Iraq does or does not possess such weapons.

    Such uncertainty will, by itself, have a seriously destabilizing effect on the entire Middle East. It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard. As you have rightly declared, Mr. President, the security of the world in the first part of the 21st century will be determined largely by how we handle this threat.

    Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

    We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration’s attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power. This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts. Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater. We believe the U.S. has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf. In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.

    We urge you to act decisively. If you act now to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. or its allies, you will be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the country. If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our interests and our future at risk.

    Sincerely,

    Elliott Abrams Richard L. Armitage William J. Bennett

    Jeffrey Bergner John Bolton Paula Dobriansky

    Francis Fukuyama Robert Kagan Zalmay Khalilzad

    William Kristol Richard Perle Peter W. Rodman

    Donald Rumsfeld William Schneider, Jr. Vin Weber

    Paul Wolfowitz R. James Woolsey Robert B. Zoellick

  2. Doubtom  May 30, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    at least the jews are still in charge of the money. The world is safe! Does Zoelick also have the benefit of dual citizenship?

    That letter which carries all the signatures of the scumbags who are doing double duty for Israel, is almost too silly to comment upon but let me just point to the more obvious silliness and let the rest wonder at the sophistication of our leaders in being buffaloed by such drivel.
    Let’s assume that Saddam had been able to put together a nuclear device for the sake of this argument; would anyone and I mean ANYONE, be so damn dense as to risk a nuclear confrontation with an established nuclear power unless he had achieved nuclear parity?
    Saddam may have been many things and most of them bad but he wasn’t insane! To take action based on this fearful tripe is insane and speaks more for a hidden agenda than any real worry about being nuked by Saddam. What a crock of shit! And most of these clowns are still at the reins of power. Oh yeah, we’re screwed, big time!

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