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Tuesday, May 8th 2007

Thank You Europe, May I Have Another?


Makes Me Even Prouder To Be An American

The negotiations over Paul Wolfowitz’s future at the World Bank have begun. The Europeans are backing off of their original desire to end the tradition of the U.S. deciding the World Bank president. Let’s read what the NYT piece says,

Leading governments of Europe, mounting a new campaign to push Paul D. Wolfowitz from his job as World Bank president, signaled Monday that they were willing to let the United States choose the bank’s next chief, but only if Mr. Wolfowitz stepped down soon, European officials said.

“What I’m hearing from colleagues is, ‘Let’s not push the Americans too hard,’ ” said a senior European official involved in policy on the bank. “We want to avoid a split between the United States and its European allies. We’re willing to say: ‘O.K., you find a capable American to run this institution and we can live with that.’ ”

Thank you merciful equals. The NYT article fails miserably in laying out the arrangement which allows the U.S. to pick the World Bank president. It isn’t just them. The entire debate is being strewed for the public. The German Financial Times, reflecting European opinion, fails even worse,

Will the current difficulties of World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz’ finally alter the bank itself? Will they bring about the end of the outdated convention, according to which the U.S. President single-handedly determines who will lead the most important foreign aid organization in the world?

Wait a second here. The U.S. is the largest shareholder in the World Bank. And it isn’t like the deal is one sided. The ageless agreement is for an American to head the World Bank and a European to head the International Monetary Fund. Sure there’s something elitist about that, but those aren’t the cries you hear coming from the press or from the European leaders. They aren’t arguing for the reign of meritocracy. This is simply a manifestation of the rise in anti-Americanism. A fear of the current American administration.

Spit on that.

In case you don’t know, beyond anger towards World Bank policies, Wolfowitz is in some hot water over a ‘promotion’ and ‘raise’ for his girlfriend. Shaha Riza was a World Bank employee in a relationship with Mr. Wolfowitz before he became bank president.

Following the ethical guidelines of the bank Miss Riza could no longer work at the World Bank under Wolfowitz. Everyone concedes that the couple was trying to abide by those rules when Miss Riza got her “promotion.” The nature of the dispute is mundane and ridiculous.

The Ethics Committee recommended that Riza get an “in situ promotion” in order to resolve the conflict of interest with her working under her boyfriend. The Vice President and Wolfowitz agree to send her away to the State Department along with giving her a raise. Everyone on the outside of the World Bank couldn’t give a hoot so far.

Late in March WaPo publishes a column which gets the whole scandal rolling however,

Just before leaving, she was promoted to a managerial-level job, which we’re told is somewhat rare. Bank records obtained by the Government Accountability Project indicate that, before Riza’s promotion, she was earning $132,660.

Under bank rules — remember, she is still on its payroll even at State — the highest raise she should have gotten in her new job would be about $20,000, according to GAP’s calculation. Instead, she got a $47,340 raise, which put her salary at $180,000.

This fiscal year, while still at State, Riza got a raise of $13,500, bringing her up to $193,590, which is $7,000 more than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice makes.

As the Wall Street Journal rightly points out, who gives a flying %#@$ what her salary is in comparison to Condoleezza Rice?

Of its roughly 10,000 employees, no fewer than 1,396 have salaries higher than the U.S. Secretary of State; clearly “fighting poverty” does not mean taking a vow of poverty at “multilateral” institutions. At the time of Ms. Riza’s departure from the bank, she was a Grade “G” (senior professional) employee; the typical salary in that grade hovers around the $124,000 mark. For the next level, Grade “H”–the level to which Ms. Riza was due to be promoted–salaries average in the $170,000 range, with an upper band of $232,360. No fewer than 17% of bank employees are in this happy bracket.

Despite corrections, such as those the WSJ published, the public and media can’t seem to get off Al Kamen’s original screwed up numbers.

The constant insistence by media sources that her income is tax free is less outrageous than it sounds. The World Bank employees pay income tax on their base salaries but have that reimbursed (it is the reimbursement which isn’t taxed). So calm down all you outraged columnists, the IRS is collecting taxes on Miss Riza’s nearly $200,000 salary.

The scandal has heated up, despite nothing. The ethics committee is insisting they didn’t know the whole arrangements of the deal, and even Wolfowitz is admitting that now. But, it is undisputed that the Board of Directors knew and the ethics committee, while not specifically authorizing the pay raise clearly spelled out for the World Bank brass to do something along those lines. And it is clear that her salary and raises aren’t outrageous for the position Miss Riza holds.

Mr. Wolfowitz is looking to be out of office soon, but not by choice. The heat is such that his top adviser has jumped ship. How can you explain this? Mr. Wolfowitz is admittedly a crass figure. But with the facts laid out the heat he is takin’ seems ridiculous and over the top.

The only explanation in the face of such is the anti-American, anti-Bush administration sentiment which permeates all the way to the highest national authorities. Mr. Wolfowitz’s history is “tarnished” by his relationship with Bush, and his position as the voice for so many of the administrations most hated decisions. Pre-World Bank he was intimately involved in the invasion of Iraq.

But that is far from a reason to bring him down.

It is nothing short of another example of the absolute ridiculous fevered pitch which anti-Americanism has reached. I’ve said it before on this blog and I’ll say it again – America is not above criticism. It is the volume of it currently which is ridiculous. How do you explain some waiter in Norway’s outrage at the Iraq war? Some op/ed newspaper writer in Dusseldorf? That war HAS NOTHING to do with them. It doesn’t make then less secure. It doesn’t challenge their lifestyle. And don’t get me started on some talk of a general outrage at an American created humanitarian crisis. That bullshit, with the suffering the world faces and the average westerner’s efforts to alleviate such, doesn’t fly two freakin’ feet.

Top that off with the politically correct multi nationalism which downplays America’s historical contributions, especially within the ranks of academia (which makes it difficult to discredit it when social scientists are actively rewriting it), and you get a ridiculous level of criticism. Some of it prudent and good and fair and worth debate; but the level of hate it is bringing out is just beyond defense.

It is tough being on the top. It illicits strong opposition. But it is beyond debate that from a comparative POV America is the most benign, least imperialistic superpower (however liberally you want to define that term) ever to grace the Earth.

Yes the victors write the history. But I don’t need a lesson in revisionist politically correct BS.

It is ridiculous (and I’m going to continue to use that word) to try to downplay America’s contribution to the post-World War II economic boom. It is ridiculous to downplay America’s contribution to the rise of social guarantees and welfare states in Europe through out assurance of their security during the Cold War (and then they turn around and laud those egalitarian ideals over America and point out our lack of them as some sort of failure).

Yes, America’s historical attempts to influence the world has blemishes. The growth and prosperity has not been evenly distributed. But it is ridiculous, on the sum total, to imagine America as anything but a positive influence – even with its recent foreign affairs “blunders” (and that is the appropriate term for the Iraq War when put in an historical perspective).


I Can’t Agree With The Entire Video…But It Is Close Enough…

Typical American arrogance (see above) is nothing short of justified! I have no idea where this politically correct BS where we tout the accomplishments of all the world is coming from. Give credit where it is due. American arrogance is built on American confidence and American confidence made America what it is and played a huge role in shaping the modern world. So if such arrogance, is truly driving the world’s opinion on America it is hard to see it as justified.

Just because public sentiment is so overwhelmingly anti-American doesn’t make it right. Just because the opinions are widely held, speaks nothing to the truth behind the motives for such opinions. Those motives certainly include jealousy and your typical anti-power feelings. As all world powers have witnessed, such feelings are inevitable. But that doesn’t make them excusable. And it certainly doesn’t lead any credence to the world’s opinion of America.

Pragmatically this is something we have to deal with. We can’t stand atop our roofs and shout “You’re wrong!” to the rest of the world, no matter how true that is. This administration’s actions have severely damaged world opinion. But there is light. There is reason to be found out. There are those who put the current bind in perspective, who tone down the volume of criticism to a comparatively reasonable level. That’s all I’m asking for. America will work for better international relations under the next administration, I have no doubt. The rest of the world can do their part when they stop pretending America is the great Satan and the source of all evil.

And if there’s any justice such will start when the international community stops trying to tear Paul Wolfowitz limb from limb.


God Bless America

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