Wolfowitz agrees to quit

The World Bank's long, international nightmare is over. No wonder its staff is grateful to the departing president.

Topics: Globalization, How the World Works,

Paul Wolfowitz has agreed to resign, effective June 30, according to statements released by the World Bank and its beleaguered president.

A weary planet rejoices. It’s been tough paying adequate attention to the troubles of both Paul Wolfowitz and Albert Gonzales. Now, at last we can focus. But before moving on, we should devote a few final thoughts to the closing statements, which were carefully designed to make it appear that even though “mistakes were made” on both sides, everyone really meant well from the beginning.

Of all the rhetoric that has been spewed about Wolfowitz’s tenure at the World Bank, has anyone heard anything more preposterous than the following sentence from the statement by the executive directors of the World Bank?

“We are grateful to Mr. Wolfowitz for his service at the Bank”

The institution has endured a mass revolt by its staff, had its reputation mocked across the world, and been caught in the crossfire of bloodthirsty partisan infighting, all because of George W. Bush’s spectacularly incompetent decision to appoint someone so manifestly inappropriate for the job. One can only wonder how much hellfire Wolfowitz threatened to unleash in order to get that sentence included.

But really, the World Bank’s demure farewell pales against the lengthy self-aggrandizement belched by Wolfowitz. Here he is, at his best:



Finally, I want to say a special word of thanks to the many people inside and outside the Bank who have publicly or privately expressed their support for me and asked me to stay. One of the most moving was a phone call I received from the democratically elected President of a Sub-Saharan African country. It was a private call so I will not quote him by name. But he thanked me for doing so much, in his words, to make the World Bank an institution “that listens, that cares, that understands and that takes action.” If that is true, and if I have “touched the hearts of Africans,” as he told me, then the last two years have been worth it.

And with that, let’s close this chapter.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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