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Planning For The Post-Wolfowitz Era

Planning For The Post-Wolfowitz Era

By Andreas von Warburg - For More, See... The Gstaad Project

While the White House is still publicly supporting Paul Wolfowitz’ leadership at the World Bank, observers are speculating on possible successors for the bank top post.

The selection process of the head of the Bretton Woods institutions, both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is a very delicate one and the Wolfowitz affair might force the international community to reform it.

Since the creation of the bank, the President of the United States has been given the prerogative to choose and nominate the head of the organization. To keep that prerogative, the White House is now working behind the curtains, with a cautious, wait-and-see sort of approach. But Bush’s advisors are already preparing a list of possible candidates.

According to development experts, one of the best candidates to lead the World Bank in the post-Wolfowitz era is Robert Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State until July 2006. Zoellick, now a managing director and chairman of Goldman Sachs’ International Advisors department, has the right experience and connections – within the Bush administration and the U.S. Congress in particular – to lead the organization.

A top administration official, Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt has been mentioned as a possible candidate. Kimmitt, a former U.S. Ambassador to Germany and Executive-Secretary and General Counsel of the White House National Security Council, had a major role – alongside Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice – in the setting up of the International Compact for Iraq, launched last month to assist the country to pursue a program of economic, political, and security reforms.

Another recurring name is Stanley Fischer, currently governor of the Bank of Israel. Fisher, who holds dual US/Israeli citizenship, has a strong experience in the developing arena as second in command at the International Monetary Fund until 2001 and as chief economist at the World Bank.

The only foreigner mentioned as a possible replacement for Wolfowitz is Kermal Dervis, currently Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – third highest post in the UN system after the Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretary-General. UNDP is the largest UN entity and has close ties with both the World Bank and the IMF. Dervis, a Turkish citizen, is considered a “friend” of the United States and a progressive pro-American Muslim. According to a recent report by the Washington Times, “his selection would allow the U.S. to avoid opposition to appointing an American while preserving the United States’ tradition of appointing the World Bank head.”

Other possible candidates includes Ambassador Zalmay Khalilazad, recently appointed U.S. top diplomat at the United Nations; Martin Feldstein, professor of economics at Harvard University and president of the National Bureau of Economic Research; and Robert Hormats, managing director of Goldman Sachs and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State.


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