The tumultuous departure of Paul Wolfowitz from the World Bank has raised reasonable questions about whether the United States should continue to monopolize the nomination of presidents for that global institution. President Bush probably succeeded in curtailing the discussion yesterday by nominating Robert Zoellick for the job. Zoellick, who was U.S. trade representative during Bush's first term and has held senior positions at the Treasury and State departments, is intelligent, experienced and effective; he has managed large bureaucracies and cut deals with governments from Latin America to China. He is a good choice to lead the bank; his American citizenship and identification with the Bush administration certainly should not disqualify him.
Unlike Wolfowitz, Zoellick has a long history of commitment to multilateralism. As trade representative he helped to launch the ongoing global trade negotiations known as the Doha round and worked closely with his counterpart at the European Union, Pascal Lamy, now the head of the World Trade Organization. Zoellick's clear understanding of trade, and of how developing countries can use it to grow, should benefit the bank.
In fact, as Wolfowitz recognized, the World Bank still has a vital role to play in Africa, not only as a source of grants and loans but as an aid to building institutions - and, yes, in fighting corruption. And it can still do important projects in middle-income countries. For example, it can help to build a framework that would allow China, India and other rapidly industrializing countries to join rich nations in addressing climate change. It could help Middle Eastern countries participate in global flows of trade, investment and technology from which they have been largely excluded. If Zoellick can shore up the bank's place as a prime source of capital and technocratic guidance for the poorest countries and find new initiatives to pursue with the richer ones, he will have a chance of fulfilling the prediction he made yesterday: that "the World Bank's best days are still to come."
- Washington Post
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.