Bush Picks Paul Wolfowitz for World Bank

President Bush has announced that he will submit controversial Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz as his choice as president of the World Bank.

Bush to pick Wolfowitz for World Ban (CNN)

President Bush will announce that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is his choice to be president of the World Bank, a senior administration told CNN Wednesday. Wolfowitz was one of the main advocates for the war in Iraq. Wolfowitz’s name was mentioned as a possible World Bank pick a few weeks ago, but the administration attempted to distance itself from that after reports of grumblings from the Europeans.

In addition to Wolfowitz’s strong support for the Iraq war, Steve Radelet, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and a former undersecretary at the Treasury, said last week the Europeans were nervous that Wolfowitz would prove similar to former World Bank head and Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Radelet said McNamara was accused of channeling aid to nations based not on need but on their support of U.S. policy.

Although not a formal code, traditionally the United States chooses the head of the World Bank while the Europeans pick the head of its sister organization, The International Monetary Fund. Both the U.S. and the Europeans have veto power over each other’s choices.

Wolfowitz strikes me as an odd choice, not only because it seems to be a thumb in the eyes of the Europeans but because he has no real background in international economics. Someone along the lines of former Texas Senator Phil Gramm would have been a more inspired pick.

Update (1158): AP has more details NYT, MSNBC, YahooNews

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expressed skepticism over Bush’s selection. She said the choice of Wolfowitz to head the World Bank was “hard to understand” and that “I don’t see a match of commitment to the vision of the World Bank.”
Administration supporters of Wolfowitz said Wednesday he is suited for the World Bank post and pointed to his management experiences at the Pentagon and his diplomatic experience at the State Department. He had served as assistant secretary of State for east Asia during the Philippine transition to democracy. He also served as U.S. ambassador to Indonesia.
William Cohen, who was secretary of defense during the Clinton administration, praised Wolfowitz. “He has a keen understanding of the tides and trends that have shaped our world since the end of the Cold War,” Cohen said, “and a deep commitment to liberty and improving the quality of life for suffering people.”


Update (1338): Blogmate Rob Tagorda has some thoughts on this as well.

Update (1553): Glenn Reynolds links this May 2003 Wolfowitz interview without comment. It speaks for itself I guess. Certainly, it lays to rest any questions about whether Wolfowitz is a diplomat. He ain’t.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Wolfowitz’s educational (as well as practical) background is heavily intertwined with economics and international finance … Being an expert in these areas is sort of a requisite base of knowledge to work in the upper echelons of International Relations.

  2. James Joyner says:


    Not really. His resume is impressive, indeed and I have no doubt that he knows a little bit about international political economy. But, like me, his specialty is national security policy. Few security studies types study international finance–there’s very little overlap in the subfields.

    He’s obviously got a lot of management experience and I don’t doubt he can handle the job. Certainly, I’d prefer him over Bono. But he seems an odd choice.

  3. JakeV says:

    It seems fairly likely to me that being “a thumb in the eye of the Europeans” was viewed as one of Wolfowitz’s qualifications for the post.

  4. Bob says:

    No odder than McNamara, at least Wolfie’s war turned out ok.

  5. peter boyadjian says:

    Certainyl well educated Wolfowitz is bellicose and doctrinaire to the extent that he views the U.S as the proxy power to protect Israel. This will carry to the World Bank. He already is playing the master spy game of courting an Arab woman. He would make Moses proud.