Monday, March 27, 2006


World Bank gives chicken feed to the Palestinian Authority

You may remember last year's elevation of Iraq War architect Paul Wolfowitz to the presidency of the World Bank. Since then Wolfie has devoted himself to stamping out corruption in Africa and eliminating upper- and mid-level bank managers at home. Wolfowitz is more Jewish than a yarmulke and more Neoconservative than the Jacobins, so why is the World Bank giving money to the Palestinians? Well, because the Israelis asked him to.

According to Roee Nahmias of YnetNews,

The World Bank has announced it plans to transfer more than USD 2 million in aid to Palestinian poultry farmers whose chickens contracted the bird flu virus. The World Bank has decided to funnel the money in compliance with a request by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who spoke with the Bank's President Paul Wolfowitz, and following talks between senior bank officials and Foreign Ministry Director General Ron Prushor.

The Israelis have halted the transfer of a monthly $55 million tax revenue they collect for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to punish the Palestinians for electing Hamas. Now they want Wolfie to pay for sick Palestinian chickens—

Livni has asked Wolfowitz to give incentives to the Palestinian farmers to exterminate the infected birds immediately, in wake of concerns that in lack of international intervention, the required procedures will not take place in the Palestinian Authority.

The bird flu was discovered in the PA in the middle of this week, and consequently Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has instructed all the professional offices working opposite the PA to lend all the assistance required in order to contaminate the virus' outbreak.

This just goes to show that when chicken soup is at risk, the Israelis can find common cause with the Palestinians.

And the World Bank?

Meanwhile, Edward T. Pound and Danielle Knight of US News & World Report have just come out with a lengthy spread that purports to report on Wolfowitz's efforts to clean up corruption. Given the paucity of information in the article, I'm tempted to conclude that the authors were paid by the word. They begin with one Leslie Jean-Robert Pean, a Haitian who did very well for himself as a World Bank employee. But Mr. Pean's presumed delinquencies are but a drop in the bucket—

Some estimates [of waste due to corruption] are mind-boggling. A Northwestern University professor, Jeffrey Winters, an expert on Indonesia, told Congress in 2004 that he believed the World Bank had lost $100 billion to corruption over the years. Old bank hands ridicule the number but say they can't estimate how much has actually been stolen; they just don't know. But Steve Berkman, a former manager of World Bank projects in Africa who later worked as a bank investigator, says the $100 billion figure is probably conservative.

The authors date the actual anticorruption effort to the time of Wolfie's predecessor Wolfensohn. But Wolfowitz should fit right into the scheme

The sanctions process is frequently cited as the chokepoint for investigations. Many cases sat around for months in the integrity department before they were shipped over to the sanctions committee for action. The committee has banned either permanently or temporarily more than 330 consultants, company officials, and firms in seven years, but critics say that most of those disciplined are small mom and pop operations and that more than a third involved a single country—Indonesia. The committee has been reluctant, some bank officials say, to punish large companies engaged in misconduct.

The Indian pundit N.J. Nanporia illuminates the neoconservative aspect of Wolfowitz' efforts at the World Bank—

When Wolfowitz was nominated as World Bank chief no surprise that everyone was taken aback. Yet how skilfully he insinuated himself, as it were, into his new post.... However, the neo part of Wolfowitz psychological make-up does, even now, tend to surface. He thinks, for example, that corruption in the African continent, not terrorism, is the key problem and that stopping loans is the solution. Here we have the deeply ingrained neo idea that “pressure” — ranging from military threats to sanctions, to withholding aid, to “leaning” on individuals and nations — is the key to getting one’s own way.


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