Monday, May 28, 2007

Wolfie's blame game

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Because he's a Bushie, and because Bushies must be Bushies, and because Bushies avoid taking responsibility for anything and everything they do that fails, which is pretty much anything and everything, Paul Wolfowitz has come to the conclusion, the only conclusion that could make any real sense to him, the only conclusion that could allow him to avoid responsibility for his actions, that he did nothing wrong at The World Bank, nothing at all that would justify what has happened to him, namely, his resignation (i.e., firing).

Like the Bush Administration -- like Bush himself, who rallied to Wolfowitz's defence and, in so doing, protected one of his own even in the face of mounting international criticism -- Wolfowitz prefers to place the blame anywhere but on himself. And the scapegoat this time? The media:

The outgoing president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, has told the BBC an "overheated" atmosphere at the bank and in the media forced him to resign.

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Speaking to the BBC World Service, Mr Wolfowitz denied that his own actions were the root cause of his departure.

"I'm pleased that finally the board did accept that I acted in good faith and acted ethically," he said.

"I accept the fact that by the time we got around to that, emotions here were so overheated that I don't think I could have accomplished what I wanted to accomplish for the people I really care about."

Actually, though, a World Bank panel determined that Wolfowitz in fact "broke World Bank laws" and that there was a conflict of interest in his efforts to help his girlfriend, Shaha Riza. Indeed, the panel "ruled he had broken the bank's code of conduct and violated the terms of his contract". As to his claim that he acted "in good faith and acted ethically," the banks board of directors "accepted [his] assurances," according to the BBC, but nonetheless "acknowledged that a 'number of mistakes' had been made". The bank's staff association put it more bluntly: "He has damaged the institution and continues to damage it every day that he remains as its president."

Wolfowitz was given the opportunity to save face and resign rather than face being censured or fired. Essentially, he had no choice but to resign. And it wasn't because of a hostile media environment. He was shown the exit because he had irreparably damaged his credibility, acted unethically, violated the bank's own rules, and weakened the bank itself. Simply put, he could not be left in power.

Just as he once said that he could not imagine why more troops would be needed after the fall of Saddam's regime than for the invasion itself, that is, just as he could not imagine what could go wrong during the American occupation of post-Saddam Iraq, Wolfowitz cannot imagine that he did anything wrong at The World Bank. It is the sort of arrogance that cannot admit of failure. And it is the sort of hubris that characterizes Bushies everywhere and that has come to define the Bush presidency. He may be a scoundrel, but he is just like all the rest.

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