The World Bank and the State Department

Recently, with the announcement of James Wolfensohn’s departure, the presidency of the World Bank has been a fairly hot topic. Dan Drezner examined some possible successors yesterday. Among them was Robert Zoellick, the United States Trade Representative.

Well, we can now remove his name from the list, as Reuters reports that he has other plans:

Bush Set to Name Zoellick as Deputy to Rice

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick is expected to be named deputy to incoming Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice later this month, a Bush administration official said on Thursday.

The official said an announcement was likely after Rice’s confirmation hearing scheduled for Jan. 18. Zoellick had also been mentioned as a candidate to replace World Bank President James Wolfensohn who told the bank this week he planned to leave in June.

As Deputy Secretary of State, Zoellick would replace Richard Armitage who resigned when Colin Powell announced he was quitting soon after President Bush’s re-election in November.

Zoellick had recently met with Rice and officials said she had high regard for the U.S. trade representative, who worked at the State Department in the first Bush administration when he was Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs.

During that time, he worked closely on issues surrounding the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany, areas where Rice also has experience.

Indeed, for this service, Zoellick received the Knight Commanders Cross award from the German government. And he’s traditionally gotten along well with Europe, as an old Economist article points out:


In a 1999 essay, Mr Zoellick wrote that America should concentrate on overhauling relations with Europe and Japan. He repeated this point in his confirmation hearings and plans to work with Pascal Lamy, a long-time friend and Europe’s trade commissioner, to build momentum for the new round of multilateral trade talks.

These developments make me wonder if there’s something to the following Financial Times article, which describes optimistic European attitudes toward the United States, after all. When I read it last night, it seemed like just standard diplomatic protocol. But perhaps the Bush administration does have renewed serious interest in strengthening transatlantic ties:

Europe Upbeat on US Foreign Policy

European officials visiting Washington are encouraged by what they see as positive trends in US foreign policy as the second Bush administration takes shape. But the outlook is partly clouded by uncertainty over sweeping personnel changes still to be announced.

Javier Solana, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, emerged upbeat over prospects for a fresh start to transatlantic relations after a two-hour lunch in the White House with Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser nominated to replace Colin Powell as secretary of state.

“We were trying for a propitious atmosphere for this relationship. Today was a day of gestures of goodwill,” Mr Solana said, adding cautiously that he hoped these “sentiments materialise”.

Even contentious issues, such as the EU intention to lift its arms embargo against China, appear to be receding. Mr Solana said that despite threats of retaliation voiced recently by US officials should the ban be lifted, he expected that “they will be able to live with that”.

President George W. Bush’s planned summit meetings with Nato and the EU in Brussels on February 22 are seen as an important marker of “the end of the period of war, and the start of the period of politics”, a senior European official commented.

We’ll see.


Chirac Says He Wants 2005 to Be a Year of ‘Trust’ with Bush (Agence France Presse)

French President Jacques Chirac said he hoped 2005 would be a year of “trust” with his re-elected US counterpart, George W. Bush, as the two men — who have had chilled ties since the US-led war on Iraq — looked ahead to several years of sharing the world stage.

“A few days from his second term inauguration, I want to extend my friendly wishes to the president of the United States, whom I will soon have the occasion to see again,” Chirac told foreign ambassadors in Paris at an annual New Year’s function.

“I hope that together, with the international community, we will go into this new year with unity, with trust and determination, and that the challenges facing us will be opportunities to show the vitality of transatlantic ties,” he said.

The Financial Times has related coverage.

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Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.


  1. Fred Boness says:

    I don’t like it that Lamy is Zoelick’s “friend.” Friends don’t threaten friend’s boss with a “revolver.”