LAT: Bono for the World Bank

The LAT editorial board has a rather interesting recommendation: Bono for the World Bank.

Bono, the U2 rock star, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and he is a credible candidate. But we have a better idea on how best to recognize his effective lobbying on behalf of African development — Bono should be named the next president of the World Bank.

Don’t be fooled by the wraparound sunglasses and the excess hipness. Bono is deeply versed in the issues afflicting the least-developed nations of the world, as former Treasury Secretary Paul H. O’Neill learned when he traveled the continent with the musician. O’Neill, an uber-wonk, came back singing Bono’s praises. Bono even brought ultra-conservative Sen. Jesse Helms to tears by relating poverty in Africa to passages in the Bible.

Bono may not have a PhD in economics, but he’d have plenty of real economists around the bank to consult. Bono is the most eloquent and passionate spokesman for African aid in the Western world. And given that both ex-President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have in recent years made Africa one of their focuses, that’s saying something.

Bono strikes me as an odd character and I’ve never understood the fuss over U-2’s music. He’s obviously a very bright fellow though, and his presence as its leader would give the World Bank a visibility it’s never had before.

I don’t know enough about Bono’s role in managing the U-2 empire or even what it is the World Bank president does on a daily basis to assess his qualifications for the job. I suspect that someone lacking a strong background in economics could handle it, as CEO’s don’t require much specialized expertise. His ability to administer a large organization is another matter entirely.

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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 and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    The premise of the editorial is that the World Bank is a big self licking ice cream cone and needs a jolt of energy and get out of its business as usual practice of demanding third world countries embark on its prescribed routine of borrowing for useless projects and then unable to repay the loans, in effect getting deeper and deeper into debt with no hope of repaying them. Bono is a visionary in terms of what he thinks would solve the problem of third world poverty. We’ve had 50 years of the old solution, and the problem doesn’t seem to go away, so maybe it’s time we try another way?

  2. Zelda B says:

    PLEEZE! Bono is a good musician but is a horrible choice as he has NO qualifications to run the World Bank! Did he even finish high school? Yes, a PHD in economics would be “helpful” for a candidate for CEO of the World Bank!

  3. dave t says:

    He pays no taxes as an Irish artist yet runs around telling us how to spend our taxes….ante up 22% of your estimated £40 million first Bono…which area of the war torn globe did he bring peace to by the way?

  4. Kappiy says:

    Bono rocks (and does “pay taxes), but he shouldn’t be head of the World Bank. The tradition of having a US citizen should be abandoned. I think it was the Financial Times who endorsed Zedillo who–despite his history with the PRI–did shepheard his country to democracy and would carry weight in the developing world.

  5. Attila Girl says:

    Nothing against entertainers who only use one name. Cher, Madonna, Prince [with that symbol silliness], and Bono should not be eligible for political jobs.

    Make this rule now; thank me later.

  6. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘Bono is a visionary in terms of what he thinks would solve the problem of third world poverty. ‘

    Sorry but what’s his vision? Debt forgiveness which only encourages less responsibility. Greated foreign aid which does the same thing. Maybe what these countries need is political reform first?