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The Forum > Article Comments > Wolfowitz - bank on a big surprise or two > Comments

Wolfowitz - bank on a big surprise or two : Comments

By Josh Ushay, published 12/7/2005

Josh Ushay argues it is a mistake to put Paul Wolfowitz in with the old guard conservatives like Donal Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

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Having Wolfowitz as President of the World Bank, may help keep his finger further away from the “button”, but what are his qualifications for the position, and should we be rejoicing or despairing.

In a previous role as Ambasador to Indonesia, he advocated banking deregulation.

“Pushed by the World Bank, the IMF, and Wolfowitz's Economic Policy Support Office (EPSO) at the U.S. embassy, Indonesia's technocrats opened the floodgate for local crony conglomerates to set up private banks across the country and take in deposits from a trusting public… These policies were a timebomb set in 1988 and finally triggered in 1997 when the Thai baht collapsed. Indonesia's banking system had to be bailed out, the public took on crushing levels of new debt, and the Indonesian population suffered miserably.”

He was quite an admirer of Suharto, once describing his leadership as “strong and remarkable”, but he generally ignored Suharto’s plundering of Indonesia, and also ignored the major human rights abuses taking place.

“Prominent Indonesian activists and leaders of NGOs are already on record stating that when he was ambassador, Wolfowitz never met with them or visited their offices to lend moral support as they struggled for freedom from the repressive Suharto regime.”

Of course Indonesia was a major customer of US arms throughout the Suharto years, and it is quite possible that Australia could not militarily intervene in East Timor during those times, because we would have been fighting an enemy being supplied with weaponry by an ally.

But moving right along to more recent times, he initially briefed George Bush that the Iraq war was “doable”, and would only cost about US $20 Billion. After 100,000 Iraq lives have been lost, together with another 2,000 US soldiers, and over US $300 Billion dollars have been spent, that war does not seem so “doable”, and alternatives should have been followed.

So after a foray into Asia and the Middle East, he is now off to Africa in charge of the World Bank, as if they have not suffered enough already.
Posted by Timkins, Tuesday, 12 July 2005 9:27:41 PM
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After reading the comments on Ushay's essay on Wolfowitz one gets almost filled with despair for Africa and the Third World battling nations in particular. One question that can be asked concerns US subsidies, which by enabling the dumping of cheap wheat which in turn by breaking graingrowers as is happening in South America, should also be part of the new Wolfowitz programme.

Indeed, the whole shaky setup of the WTO should be one of Wolfowitz' main concerns. For example, not so much battling black Africa, but also the Islamic market garden farmers of Algeria and Morocco who previously had a good market for sub-tropical tomatoes in far colder northern Europe. But not satisfied with heavily subsidising their agriculture, if the Swiss government gives any indication, special loans are also allowed in northerm Europe for expensive hothouses to grow tomatoes in opposition to the Moroccans and Algerians.

Therefore, in reality Wolfowitz should be fully after pestering George W' the man who generously or surprisingly astutely gave him the World Bank job. The man who to keep himself in power has allowed 80 billion dollars in subsidies mostly for Mid-West grain crops over the next ten years.

In fact, though Ushay appears to believe that Wolfowitz and probably Bush and also very likely Carl Rove have something very special to offer failing black Africa, as well as a faltering unsubsidised agricultural world apart from America and Europe, the very fact that US agricultural protection is already breaking South American farmers, should give Wolfowitz thoughts about special loans for another large part of the globe. Indeed, with Australian grain prices dropping so low through rich nation protectionism, Australian farmers might be looking towards Mr Wolfowitz also.

I guess it will be a case in the future of anxious farmers very carefully watching this space.
Posted by bushbred, Tuesday, 2 August 2005 1:31:33 AM
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