State vs. Defense II
The president announced his nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to be the next World Bank president. Apparently the Europeans are not happy, according to the Washington Post‘s Keith B. Richburg and Glenn Frankel: President Bush’s nomination of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz as the next president of the World Bank was met with much surprise, ...
The president announced his nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to be the next World Bank president. Apparently the Europeans are not happy, according to the Washington Post's Keith B. Richburg and Glenn Frankel:
The president announced his nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to be the next World Bank president. Apparently the Europeans are not happy, according to the Washington Post‘s Keith B. Richburg and Glenn Frankel:
President Bush’s nomination of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz as the next president of the World Bank was met with much surprise, little enthusiasm and some outright opposition in Europe, where he is best known as a leading architect of a conflict deeply unpopular here, the Iraq war. “We were led to believe that the neo-conservatives were losing ground,” said Michael Cox, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics. “But clearly the revolution is alive and well.” He added that despite recent efforts from Washington to mend relations, “Europeans are still inclined deep down to suspect the worst, and this appointment won’t go down too well.” European countries control about 30 percent of votes on the bank’s board; opponents would be able to fight the nomination if they chose to do so. By tradition, the United States, the bank’s largest shareholder, selects the president, while Europeans pick the head of its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund. Some Europeans who closely follow U.S. politics said the Wolfowitz choice, coming the week after Bush selected outspoken diplomat John Bolton as his United Nations ambassador, could be a sign that the president is moving to placate his more conservative supporters. Some expressed concern that such appointments could undermine trans-Atlantic goodwill that developed in recent weeks through visits by Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “There are two interpretations” of the selection of Wolfowitz, said Guillaume Parmentier, who heads the French Center on the United States, a think tank in Paris. “One is the optimistic one — that this is going to take him away from U.S. policy. . . . The pessimistic interpretation is that this administration has to give sop to the far right. There was Bolton and now Wolfowitz — where does it stop?”
For more international reaction, see this blog devoted to the topic. My thoughts, in no particular order:
1) While I’m sure that Europe is less than thrilled, the Post story automatically gets devalued from the fact that the first quote comes from Mick Cox. Cox is a very bright international relations theorist. He’s also a classic Marxist, however, so I’m pretty sure he’d have been unenthused by any Bush selection. 2) Matthew Yglesias is correct to point out that Wolfowitz’s performance as Deputy SecDef isn’t necessarily correlated with how he’d do at the Bank, since, “preventative wars are not, I take it, something the Bank head is able to launch.” 3) I have to disagree with Kevin Drum’s assessment of Bush’s recent moves:
On a PR level, though, the message Bush is sending is plain. A number of pundits inexplicably thought that Bush might settle down in his second term and try to run a more conciliatory, less strident administration, and it’s pretty obvious that he’s trying to make it crystal clear that he has no intention of doing this. Second term Bush will be no different from first term Bush, and don’t you forget it.
I see things very differently. Consider the personnel shuffles that have taken place at both State and Defense. At State, Condi Rice is now the secretary; She cajoled Bob Zoellick to leave a cabinet-level position at USTR to be her deputy, rejecting John Bolton in the process; highly regarded NATO ambassador Nick Burns will be the number three person as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; and Bush consigliere Karen Hughes just agreed to come back as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. There’s no comparison between this crew and the old Powell/Armitage team. The old group had gravitas and little else. This group has gravitas, bueaucratic infighting skills, and several people personally close to the President. Meanwhile, at DoD, Douglas Feith has announced plans to leave this summer, Wolfowitz has now departed, and Richard Myers term as JCS chief will expire in December. In other words, Rumsfeld is still around but his cronies are gone. As Greg Djerejian points out, “it’s starting to feel like the defenestration of Prague!” Fred Kaplan notices this trend at Slate:
A few months ago, Doug Feith announced that he would be leaving his job this summer, for personal reasons. Now Wolfowitz heads toward the door. Will the neocon triumvirate’s third peg, Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary for intelligence, be the next to fall? And what of Rumsfeld himself? The face-saving has been accomplished. His archrival, Colin Powell, was booted while he stayed on in triumph. He escaped official blame for Abu Ghraib. Having thus emerged from the firestorms unscathed, he too may be working up an appetite to spend more time with his family. Rumsfeld’s fingerprints, which were smeared all over Bush’s first-term foreign policy, have thus far left no marks in the second term. There are three possible explanations: Rumsfeld is insinuating himself more subtly than before; Condoleezza Rice shares his views, so he doesn’t need to raise a fuss; or, just maybe, the winds are shifting over the Potomac.
I vote for no. 3. No neocon worth their salt would want Bolton at the UN of Wolfowitz at the Bank — because neocons don’t believe these institutions are particularly relevant. What matters is who is ruling the roost inside the beltway. And in DC, the balance of power has shifted to State — and the people that are there have signaled a willingness to listen to the Europeans. Compared to what they faced during the Powell/Rumsfeld wars, this is a much more hospitable environment for European diplomats.
UPDATE: The Financial Times reports that European countries probably will not form a united front to oppose Wolfowitz.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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