The Wolfowitz-World Bank Outcry: A Lack of Moral Proportion

Amid charges of nepotism, calls for the resignation of Paul Wolfowitz from his current position as President of the World Bank are becoming louder and stronger. At the heart of it is an approximate $55,000 of increased salary that he secured for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza. This, claim his staff and media pundits, undermines his credibility and tarnishes the image of the World Bank.

Such reactions are preposterous, not because they miss the mark, but because Paul Wolfowitz’s history before heading the World Bank and during his tenure there includes evidence of espionage, warmongering, doctoring of intelligence, abuse of power, subversion of US laws and international law, inter alia. One is left marveling at the public’s sense of moral proportion.

It is now widely known that Wolfowitz was among the chief architects of the invasion of Iraq, conceived long before September 11 and advanced with subterfuge and lies. The plan goes back at least to 1996 when Wolfowitz, along with Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and other neocons co-authored a six-page document outlining a strategy for the destabilization of the Middle East to consolidate Israeli hegemony of the region. The plan, entitled “Clean Break,” included a war against Iraq, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as well as the Syrian regime. They wrote “Israel can shape its strategic environment in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq-an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right-as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.” The plan also included complete rejection of the Oslo “land for peace” doctrine, a merciless reoccupation of Palestinian territories, and permanent annexation of prime lands in the West Bank and Gaza strip. Bill Clinton was reluctant when presented with the plan, but Wolfowitz found his opportunity in 9-11 to advance this agenda. According to insiders, investigative reporters, and George Tenet himself, it was he, Paul Wolfowitz, who rewrote the CIA intelligence on Iraq to include the infamous outright lie that Iraq was trying to obtain enriched uranium from Niger. In fact, an ad hoc committee called the Office of Special Plans (OSP), headed by Wolfowitz, Perle and Feith, presented the White House with intelligence information, which was often contrary to that obtained by the CIA and UN inspectors. Apparently, only Colin Powell questioned the accuracy of this information at the time. The speech he was to deliver to the UN prior to the invasion was largely written by the OSP, and after going through, deleting whole pages and passages, Powell was reported to have said “I’m not reading this. This is bullshit,” according to US News and World Report.

Despite the abysmal failure of the Iraq invasion, Wolfowitz continued his warmongering by pushing the Israeli agenda for tough measures by the US against Syria and Iran. But his office as Deputy Secretary of Defense became too hot during the FBI espionage investigation into evidence that an analyst under Feith and Wolfowitz, Larry Franklin, passed classified information onto the Israeli government through its US lobby, AIPAC, arguably the most powerful lobby in Washington. Of course, this isn’t the first time Wolfowitz was implicated in espionage against the US for Israel. He was investigated in 1978 for providing classified documents to Israel regarding sensitive US military sales. He has also never been too far from other investigations into Israeli spying that includes a tangled web spanning at least 30 years and encompassing names like Perle, Feith, Bryen, Libby, Indyke, Leeden, to name a few. But the American memory is short and all this became old news. The Larry Franklin-AIPAC-Israel espionage story was quickly put down by US media, with the Washington Post burying the story in its Metro section, as if a national spy case potentially involving high-ranking administration officials were a local news story.

But Paul Wolfowitz is a clever man and he would soon find another venue to advance the Israeli Likud ideology and agenda: The World Bank.

While the FBI probe was underway and intensifying, with subpoenas of top AIPAC staffers, Israel had asked the World Bank to fund elaborate checkpoints and crossings along the internationally condemned Wall it has been building on confiscated Palestinian land deep into the West Bank. However, Israel is not eligible for monetary assistance from the World Bank because its income per capita is too high. So the application was presented on behalf of the Palestinians and described as a humanitarian plan to ease travel restrictions for Palestinian goods and labor. Thus, the money was ostensibly for Palestinians, but to be held and used by Israel. In effect, Palestinians were being asked to get loans (and pay them back) to fund the very infrastructure that ghettoized them into Bantustans and confiscated their prime agricultural lands, rendering more Palestinian farmers as cheap labor for Israel! Of course, then President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, rejected the plan. The World Bank wasn’t about to contribute to the financing of an illegal occupation and a barrier that had been condemned by the International Court of Justice as illegal.

So, in 2005, when the Franklin-AIPAC-Israel FBI investigation was getting closer to the office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Wolfowitz decided to leave his post for an appointment as President of the World Bank. Most of the world was aghast and few believed a man with his perfidious record (and looming spying allegations) would actually be confirmed to the position. But he was. Lo and behold, the World Bank changed its position on Israel’s application and began plans to fund a huge undertaking that would maintain “Jews only” roads, install state of the art checkpoint systems with new scanning technologies and build industrial zones which would take advantage of Palestinian desperation in the form of a cheap labor force and put the most environmentally damaging industries of the Israeli economy on Palestinian land. The Apartheid apparatus of occupation and subjugation would thus be firmly entrenched using loans from the World Bank, which, brilliantly, the Palestinians themselves would have to repay.

So there you have Wolfowitz, with a lifetime of treachery and subversion that has contributed to the hijacking of US foreign policy in the name of Israel, the devastation, killing and rape of Iraq and Palestine, and the loss of thousands of American lives and billions of taxpayer dollars. And this country is finally outraged because he showed favoritism to his girlfriend!

This case calls for a recalibration of the collective moral compass that provokes greater concern over romantic impropriety than what amounts to crimes against humanity.

Susan Abulhawa is the author of Mornings in Jenin, a work of historic fiction and the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine. Read other articles by Susan, or visit Susan's website.

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  1. o. rana said on May 9th, 2007 at 8:27am #

    Shit! The world Bank is a US pupet, detrimentel to the people and causes they profess to SERV.