|Subject: Indonesian Activists Slam
Wolfowitz' World Bank Candidacy
Received from Joyo Indonesia News
- Indonesian Activists Slam Wolfowitz' World Bank Candidacy
- Dow Jones Newswires: Wolfowitz Says He Would Be Open-Minded World Bank Chief
Indonesian Activists Slam Wolfowitz' World Bank Candidacy
Dow Jones Newswires March 22, 2005
JAKARTA (AP)--Paul Wolfowitz' candidacy for World Bank president has triggered criticism from rights activists in Indonesia, where he served as U.S. ambassador during Suharto's dictatorship but never spoke out publicly against the regime's violent abuses or endemic corruption.
Wolfowitz, considered the key architect of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, has been nominated by U.S. President George W. Bush to succeed the outgoing World Bank president, James Wolfensohn.
International organizations and Third World countries - the main recipients of World Bank loans - are questioning his qualifications and commitment to international development.
Analysts in Indonesia, where Wolfowitz served as ambassador from 1986 to 1989 during the military-backed government of former President Suharto, say the candidate has a poor track record in other areas crucial to the World Bank, such as fighting graft and respect for human rights.
"Of all former U.S. ambassadors, he was considered closest to and most influential with Suharto and his family," said Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara, head of the state-sponsored National Human Rights Commission.
"But he never showed interest in issues regarding democratization or respect of human rights," said Hakim, who at the time headed the Legal Aid Institute that defended dissidents and sought to free political prisoners. "Wolfowitz never once visited our offices."
"I also never heard him publicly mention corruption, not once," Hakim said.
At the time, thousands of leftists detained after the 1965 U.S.-backed military coup that brought Suharto to power were still languishing in jail without trial. And tens of thousands of people in East Timor - a country Suharto's troops occupied in 1975 - died during the 1980s in a series of army anti-insurgency offensives.
During his 32-year reign, Suharto, his family and his military and business cronies transformed Indonesia into one of the most graft-ridden countries in the world, plundering an estimated US$30 billion.
After being ousted in 1998 by pro-democracy protests, Suharto was finally charged in 2000 with personally embezzling US$600 million. The charges were dropped when judges ruled he was too ill to go to trial.
Still, Wolfowitz publicly lauded the dictator, praising his "strong and remarkable leadership" in congressional testimony.
Wolfowitz "never alluded to any concerns about the level of corruption or the need for more transparency," said Binny Buchori, director of the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development - a coalition of 100 agencies promoting democracy in Indonesia.
"He was an effective diplomat, but he gave no moral support for dissidents," she said. "He went to East Timor and saw abuses going on, but then kept quiet."
Dewi Fortuna Anwar, a former foreign policy adviser to B.J. Habibie, Suharto's successor as head of state, also agreed that Wolfowitz was a competent and popular envoy.
"He was extremely able and very much admired and well-liked on a personal level ... but he never intervened to push human rights or stand up to corruption," she said.
"At the time, Washington didn't care too much about human rights and democracy; it was still the Cold War and they were only concerned about fighting communism."
The Jakarta Post Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Wolfowitz's appointment is not a smart move
Ari A. Perdana, Cambridge, Massachusetts
The nomination of Paul Wolfowitz as the World Bank president has been the hottest issue on the international stage for the past few weeks. The story about Wolfowitz's nomination has outshone the discussions on the Millennium Development Goals or appeals to relieve third world debt.
After President George W. Bush confirmed that the U.S government officially wants Wolfowitz to lead the Bank last week, he is only one step away from the post. As the biggest shareholder of the Bank, the U.S. government virtually has a prerogative to appoint their man to lead the organization. The U.S. and Europe traditionally share the leadership of the Bank and the IMF -- the U.S. gets the Bank's presidency while Europe gets the Fund's executive director post.
The problem, however, is that Wolfowitz's nomination has been widely rejected by the other stakeholders. He does not have any experience in the international development field, nor does he have a background in economics or banking. But the more serious concern is that he is perceived as Bush's man.
Many fear that if he becomes the World Bank president, the Bank's policies will be directed by the U.S. government's interests. Developing countries worry that whatever lending or development assistance they receive will be tied to non-development issues such as international security.
Unfortunately, the decision-making process in the Bank means that the U.S. government's position is very strong. European countries may try to negotiate for a rejection or approval option. The probability is quite small, though.
As a person, Wolfowitz is a great and well-respected man. He is a professional bureaucrat, an excellent diplomat and a reputable academic. He is known as an idealist -- he has a clear vision about democratization and how to spread this vision. Whether or not people agree with his vision and his way of spreading it is another story. But even his political opponents respect him because of it.
When he was U.S. ambassador to Indonesia for three years under the Reagan administration, both governments were very satisfied with him. During his term, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta was considered as one of the most effective diplomatic missions in the country. The relationship between the two nations was also of the highest quality.
As an academic, he has served as the dean of the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), a school of Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C., which is also a well-respected institution.
However, there are several reasons why his nomination for the World Bank leadership may not be a good thing for the U.S. government, for the institution and for its other stakeholders.
First, the World Bank is an international organization whose core business is development. As an expert in defense and international security, the development community knows little about Wolfowitz's vision for international development. He may be a professional bureaucrat, but running an organization like the Bank is different with running the Pentagon.
It is debatable whether being an economist or a banker should be a strict requirement for a World Bank president. Senior U.S. politician Alan Metzer argued that the Bank does not need its leader to be a development expert. It already has a lot of such experts. What they need is someone that can be trusted to manage the huge sums of money handled by the Bank.
But economist Jeffrey Sachs has a different view. He says that Wolfowitz has never shown an interest, let alone a commitment, to the Millennium Development Goals or global poverty eradication. That is the reason, according to Mr. Sachs, why Wolfowitz is not qualified for the position.
A second reason is that his nomination by the Bush administration will send a signal that the U.S. has an obvious agenda with the organization. The perception that the World Bank is merely a vehicle for furthering U.S. interests will become stronger. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, was the intellectual architect of the Iraq war. The Iraq war represents heavy baggage for U.S. relations with the international community, and is also an issue that has created internal divisions. A move by the Bush administration to appoint their man to the biggest donor organization could further tarnish its image.
The Bush administration may not care too much about its image. But I believe the professionals who work in the Bank care about their image. The Bank has been trying hard to maintain its image, which has been deteriorating since the rise of the anti-globalization movement in the late '90s. Many World Bankers have published various self-criticisms. The Bank has also issued revisions to its development approaches in the past half-century. But if Wolfowitz becomes the Bank's president, it would be hard to avoid the perception that the World Bank will become, in Paul Krugman's words, "an ugly American Bank".
For Indonesia, perhaps, Wolfowitz' appointment may not be too bad after all. Indonesia gain some benefit from his close ties with the country. However, I don't see that his position in the Bank would produce significant added value for Indonesia. With or without him, Indonesia is still an important stakeholder for the Bank. From the Indonesian perspective, we may be better off having Wolfowitz in the inner circle of the Bush administration as our relationship with the U.S government is more uncertain than that with the World Bank.
Lastly, my Harvard professor, who is also a World Banker, once told of an experience when he had to defend his institution in front of an audience of some eight hundred people hostile to the Bank. He said that he could do so if deep in his heart he had confidence that he was doing his job professionally, not as a servant of a big country's interests. Such confidence may not be there anymore should Wolfowitz become his boss.
The writer is a researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta, and the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA. Ari_Perdana@ksg06.harvard.edu
Dow Jones Newswires March 21, 2005
Wolfowitz Says He Would Be Open-Minded World Bank Chief
By ELIZABETH PRICE of Dow Jones Newswires;
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the controversial U.S. candidate for World Bank president, on Monday said he is working hard to convince the international community he would be an open-minded and effective leader in fighting poverty.
Wolfowitz is trying to win over critics who charge that his nomination is aimed at consolidating the Bush administration's grip on the bank and making it a greater tool for U.S. foreign policy. In an interview with Dow Jones, Wolfowitz said he believes he can overcome any lingering mistrust over the U.S. decision to go to war with Iraq, a war in which he was a key adviser to President George W. Bush.
"I am not there to re-fight the war; I am there to get on with a different job," he said. "They will find me open-minded and capable of understanding difficult and complex arguments."
While not a development expert, Wolfowitz said he brings experience in working on development issues from his years as ambassador to Indonesia.
"I spent a lot of time working with my aid mission on concrete questions, like pesticide subsidies; we got into issues on potential corruption," he said. "We worked with the aid mission on education, particularly Muslim education."
"It was an exciting period of my life," he continued.
Wolfowitz appears to be gaining some ground. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a staunch opponent of the war, has said Germany won't oppose him.
Although dates haven't been scheduled yet, Wolfowitz said he is planning to visit Brussels to meet with European officials, and that he would like to travel to Africa to meet with ministers there.
"People should know I understand the role the World Bank plays in Africa," he said. "Africa will be a major focus for me and would be at top of the list of places I want to visit."
The World Bank president is formally decided by a majority vote of the 24-member board of directors. It's been a tradition that an American leads the World Bank and a European runs its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund. Together, European governments control about a third of the vote, while the U.S. is the largest shareholder with about 17%.
Debate over Wolfowitz may be contentious and other nominations are likely to emerge, but only as a formality, analysts say. Wolfowitz will most likely take over from James Wolfensohn, whose term ends May 31.
Wolfowitz said he believes Wolfensohn has set the World Bank on a good course, emphasizing work in fighting corruption, empowering women, and improving governance, health and education.
-By Elizabeth Price, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9295; Elizabeth.Price@dowjones.com