Bush Nominates Deputy Defense Sec. Wolfowitz To Head World Bank; He Says Bank Plays ‘Important Role’ in Fight Against AIDS
President Bush on Wednesday announced that he has nominated Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to be the next president of the World Bank, which is the largest source of aid to developing countries, the Washington Post reports. Bush at a press conference said he chose Wolfowitz because he is "committed to development" and is a "compassionate, decent man." Wolfowitz has "rejected" suggestions that, if elected, he would change World Bank policies to make loans contingent on countries having democratic rule, according to the Post. He said, "You certainly don't want to say that this institution, which plays such an important role in fighting the AIDS epidemic in Africa, will have a different agenda" because of concerns about how African countries are governed (Blustein/Baker, Washington Post, 3/17). Wolfowitz added, "This is not about changing the agenda of the World Bank. The agenda of the World Bank is about poverty reduction, about helping billions of people lift themselves out of misery. Problems like poverty and HIV/AIDS need to be addressed for their own sake as humanitarian issues, but it's also the case that soundly based economic development supports the advance of liberty and freedom, as well" (Harding/Sevastopulo, Financial Times, 3/17). Wolfowitz in a written statement also "praised" the work of current World Bank President James Wolfensohn, saying that he "has deepened the bank's commitment to poverty reduction, emphasizing such key factors in development as education [and] health -- particularly HIV/AIDS, women, youth and the environment," the Post reports.
Board Approval Uncertain
Although the United States traditionally is allowed to choose the president of the World Bank, nominations must be approved by the bank board. It was not clear on Wednesday whether bank shareholders -- who "conside[r] consensus to be essential" -- would oppose Wolfowitz's nomination, according to the Post (Washington Post, 3/17). If approved by the board, Wolfowitz would succeed Wolfensohn in June (AFP/Yahoo! News, 3/16).