Ms .45's mp3/bureaucratic/gaming blog.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Does she get her job back now?

For Wolfowitz, a 2nd Chance Dissolves Into Failure

Excellent article about the real issues involved in Paul Wolfowitz's being driven from the World Bank with pitchforks.

I feel really bad for Shaha Riza, because I agree that she shouldn't have had to leave her job. Consider this:

Mr. Wolfowitz contended that it was hypocritical for bank officials to allow Mr. Zhang’s wife to work at the bank but to banish Ms. Riza. Mr. Zhang, now a senior vice president at Citigroup in Hong Kong, was furious, several associates say, because bank rules permit husbands and wives to work at the bank under circumscribed conditions, which Mr. Zhang said he followed, but they bar bank employees from having a sexual relationship with top bank officials outside of marriage. [Mr Zhang's statement may be found here - it's the last of five]

If you're a liberal, put aside your feelings about Wolfie to realise how repulsive this is. OK, I'd hope that this rule is designed to prevent sexual harassment and droit de seigneur and, conversely, favouritism to partners. But where I come from, serious relationships that are not sanctioned by bits of paper are recognised. It is of course hard to know what effect this has actually had on her career, but this will make it hard for her to get work for no crime other than having eccentric taste in men.

In any case, it was found that the Riza issue was not really the problem. The issue was unprecedented for the bank - it can't happen every day that you get a new President with a partner who works in your Middle East section - and the bank agreed that everyone handled the matter poorly. The real issue seems to have been Wolfowitz's propensity to cut the Gordian knot in terms of bank management. For instance:

One official recalled Mr. Wolfowitz dressing down several top employees in the Africa division because they could not tell him whether the incidence of malaria among children had declined as a result of the bank’s program distributing bed nets to families.

I am kind of sympathetic to this because one of the reasons I'm about to launch into a public service career is that I started in an organization where the boss was a really enthusiastic, hands-on sort of a person who also liked to cut the bureaucratic bullshit and get on with the job. It's a tendency I admire. However, my boss didn't complement this tendency with a habit of accusing others of incompetence and corruption! Wolfowitz even managed to alienate the British, which is an impressive achievement.

As you've probably guessed, I do have a bit of a soft spot for Wolfie, despite his multitudinous faults. He has made some genuine efforts to consider the needs of Muslim populations, and seems to have really given a shit about the fate of the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein, which you wouldn't say about Cheney or Rumsfeld. Still, his trail of destruction illustrates the dangers of letting academics anywhere near policy.

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