A Heartening Development

Although the fat cats of the World Bank and their Eurotrash supporters want Wolfowitz out, the African nations he’s been helping reform want him to stay. That’s because Africans want to live in decent, free, and prosperous societies, and from long experience are adept at spotting crooks.

The crooks:

Pressure has increased on Paul Wolfowitz to resign as President of the World Bank as 32 anti-corruption officials at the bank handed in a letter saying that he was a liability…

Some World Bank member countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, France, Norway and Switzerland, have questioned whether Mr Wolfowitz can still lead the bank.

The Brits are on the crook list too, in the person of the lefty Hilary Benn, son of Anthony Wedgewood Benn.

The Africans (my ellipsis):

Here’s how Antoinette Sayeh, Liberia’s finance minister, responded:”I would say that Wolfowitz’s performance over the last several years and his leadership on African issues should certainly feature prominently in the discussions . . . . In the Liberian case and the case of many forgotten post-conflict fragile countries, he has been a visionary. He has been absolutely supportive, responsive, there for us…

The deputy prime minister for Mauritius, Rama Krishna Sithanen, then piped in that “he has been supportive of reforms in our country . . . . We think that he has done a good job. More specifically, he has apologized for what has happened.”

Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s poorest region, and Mr. Wolfowitz has appropriately made it his top priority. On his first day on the job, he met with a large group of African ambassadors and advocates. His first trip as bank president was a swing through Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa. He also recruited two African-born women vice presidents, a rarity at the bank.

If you’re surprised by that last fact, then you don’t appreciate that the World Bank has always been a sinecure for developed-world politicians. They get handsome salaries, tax free, and their performance is measured not by how much poverty they cure but by how much money they disperse.

Mr. Wolfowitz has upset this sweetheart status quo by focusing more on results, and especially on the corruption that undermines development and squanders foreign aid. Yet many of the poor countries themselves welcome such intervention. At the same April 14 press conference, Zambian Finance Minister N’Gandu Peter Magande endorsed the anticorruption agenda:

“We should keep positive that whatever happens to the president, if, for example, he was to leave, I think whoever comes, we insist that he continues where we have been left, in particular on this issue of anticorruption. That is a cancer that has seen quite a lot of our countries lose development and has seen the poverty continuing in our countries. And therefore . . . we want to live up to what [Wolfowitz] made us believe” that “it is important for ourselves to keep to those high standards.”

If Wolfowitz goes, a corrupt European will likely take his place, in which case the US should abandon the World Bank and revert to bilateral lending to the likes of Liberia and Mauritius.

Because helping the honest African states out of poverty is one the most important duties of the free world – in practice now the US.

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