Bush picks Wolfowitz to head World Bank


Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, President Bush's choice for World Bank President, listens as Treasury Secretary John Snow, not pictured, speaks during a press availability at the Treasury Department Wednesday in Washington. Bush on Wednesday selected Wolfowitz, a key architect of the Iraq war whose hard-line foreign policy stance as deputy defense secretary has stirred criticism, to take over as chief of the World Bank.

The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, March 17, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 17, 2005 at 4:50 a.m.
WASHINGTON - President Bush chose Paul Wolfowitz on Wednesday to head the World Bank, selecting an architect of the Iraq war whose hard-line foreign policy stance as deputy defense secretary has made him a target of critics at home and abroad.
Bush called Wolfowitz "a compassionate, decent man who will do a fine job at the World Bank."
But international aid and other groups - such as the Mobilization for Global Justice and Friends of the Earth - as well as some Democrats on Capitol Hill voiced concerns about the president's choice to take the helm of the 184-nation development bank. They say Wolfowitz, 61, lacks both the development credentials and collaborative management style needed for the job.
"I really believe in the mission of the bank, which is reducing poverty," Wolfowitz told The Associated Press in an interview. "It is a noble mission and a matter of enlightened self-interest."
The selection came on the heels of another Bush pick that has courted criticism: the nomination of John Bolton to be U.N. ambassador. Bolton, currently the State Department's arms control chief, has spoken dismissively of the United Nations.
Steve Clemons of the liberal New America Foundation, said the Wolfowitz pick demonstrates that "neoconservatism maintains a tenacious, tight grip on U.S. foreign policy."
The Wolfowitz nomination - which is subject to approval by the World Bank's board - could further strain U.S. relations with Europe, where France and Germany were among the countries that vociferously opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Wolfowitz said Wednesday that he recognized the need to smooth relations with European allies, saying, "I have a lot to listen to." If approved by the board, he said, "I will be an international civil servant responsible to that board."
Wolfowitz was among the most forceful Bush administration figures in arguing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. A foreign policy hawk who believes the United States should use its superpower status to push for reforms in other nations, he also predicted Americans would be welcomed as liberators rather than occupiers once they toppled Saddam.
If approved by the bank board, Wolfowitz would replace World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who is stepping down June 1, the end of his second five-year term.
The United States is the bank's largest shareholder. The bank traditionally has had an American president, and the 24-member board typically defers to the U.S. selection.

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