Paul Wolfowitz, president of the World Bank and formerly US President George Bush's deputy secretary of defence, doesn't seem to comprehend why he is in trouble. He has admitted to ordering a US$60,000 pay increase for his lover, a World Bank employee, before seconding her to the US State Department as part of a generous compensation package.
Wolfowitz doesn't seem to comprehend that his nepotism angers many, especially because he has been noisily trumpeting the World Bank's so-called anti-corruption campaign under the slogan: "If you want to make poverty history you have to make corruption history."
Among Wolfowitz's initial appointees at the World Bank are two US nationals formerly part of the Bush administration, whom Wolfowitz appointed as close advisers with $250,000 tax-free contracts. And discarding recommendations from a formal search process, he appointed a person linked to the US Republican Party to head the World Bank's internal watchdog.
Wolfowitz, reputedly the architect of the current Iraq War, is one more example of imperial hubris. Hubris, which comes from the Greek word for "reckless arrogance", has brought down princes, kings and empires, explained writer Tariq Ali. It is the fatal flaw that undid Achilles in Homer's The Iliad.
A recent study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research confirmed that the world's wealth is heavily concentrated in the rich developed capitalist countries in North America, Europe and high-income Asia Pacific countries. People in these countries collectively hold almost 90% of total world wealth. The mission of people like Wolfowitz is to defend the system that created this gross state of inequality and injustice.
Wolfowitz came to Melbourne last year to attend the G20 summit. Outside, Margarita Windisch from Melbourne's Stop the War Coalition and a stalwart Green Left Weekly distributor, told a crowd of protesters: "While the G20 is meeting, 50,000 children will die of preventable diseases, thousands of women will die in childbirth and hundreds will be massacred on the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan ..."
Producing a pair of handcuffs and a "warrant", Windisch suggested, to a roar of approval, that the rally should put Wolfowitz under citizen's arrest for crimes against humanity.
Wolfowitz is not the first war criminal to have served as the president of the World Bank. That distinction belongs to one of his predecessors, Robert McNamara, former US defence secretary during the Vietnam War.
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