Barracks language edited out, Tommy Franks
once referred to the Pentagon's No. 3, Doug Feith, as "the dumbest guy on the
It now appears Gen. Franks' honorific better applies to Feith's boss, the
Pentagon No. 2, Paul Wolfowitz. For a man once hailed as the brightest of the
neocons, Wolfie has behaved with a stupidity born of the arrogance of power.
Hailed in 2003 as architect of the Iraq victory, Wolfowitz, by late 2004,
was being singled out as the bumbler of postwar planning and the man most responsible
for what Gen. William Odom was already calling the greatest strategic blunder
in U.S. history.
With the roster of U.S. dead and wounded rising, Wolfie was looking for
a place to hide. George Bush, who had heeded his cawing for war on Iraq from
the first hours after 9/11, took pity. And more than pity. Bush made him president
of the World Bank, the post to which Robert McNamara retreated after seven years
at the Pentagon plunging us into a another war, a war we later learned McNamara
had come to believe we could not win.
Now, president of the World Bank is not your average sinecure. The job
commands a munificent salary, tax free. Nor does it require Senate confirmation,
where Wolfowitz might have had to explain his role in deceiving us into war.
Nor is that all. The job consists of flying first-class around the world,
dining in palaces, hobnobbing with the Davos crowd, and doling out billions
to Third World dictators and despots. For Wolfowitz, it was a heaven-sent chance
to rebuild his ravaged reputation. And he blew it.
A few weeks in Eden, and Wolfie went straight for the apple tree. From
memos unearthed by the Financial Times, he gave bank officials specific
instructions on the care and feeding of his romantic interest, a mid-level Libyan
bank bureaucrat by the name of Shaha Riza.
Warned by the bank ethics committee he was to have no role in deciding
Shaha's salary, Wolfie brushed the ethics rules aside.
He ordered Xavier Coll, bank vice president for human resources, to assign
Riza to the State Department and raise her salary by some 50 percent, to $193,000
today, tax-free. She would take home more than Condi Rice. Coll was then directed
to assure that Riza receive annual pay hikes of 8 percent and be put on a glide
path to the highest position of any civil servant at the bank. By 2010, she
would be making $245,000, tax-free.
And what has been Wolfowitz's big cause at the bank? Fighting corruption.
According to the Washington Post, Wolfowitz also had super-agent
Robert Bennett negotiate a pay raise to $400,000 for him, equal to that of President
Bush, only tax-free. He then brought over two Bush aides from the White House
and installed them "in senior positions and rewarded them with open-ended contracts
and quarter-million-dollar, tax-free salaries, despite their lack of development
As this spilled out into the press, Wolfowitz, by week's end, was barely
hanging on to his job. But Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and the West Wing
were behind him. In the GOP of Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham, this doesn't
qualify as sleaze.
Well, let Wolfie stay on as poster boy of Bush ethics, and let the nation
decide whether they wish to continue with this crowd in 2008.
But there is a larger issue than the love of Wolfie for Shaha. That is
the systematic looting of our country by parasites who are paid the world's
fattest public salaries, working in Washington, supposedly to alleviate the
suffering of the world's poorest people.
Europe was in ruins in 1945, and there was a need for a World Bank to lend
reconstruction money to prostrate nations. But Europe and East Asia are prosperous
today, the world is awash in investment capital, and foreign aid is a proven
Why do we continue to subsidize jumbo salaries for foreigners to shovel
huge dollops of our tax dollars down the same rat-holes year after year?
This is not 1945. America is no longer the world's greatest creditor. She
is the world's greatest debtor. In 2006, our current account deficit hit $857
billion. Beijing sits atop a mountain of $1 trillion in reserves. Japan sits
on $850 billion. U.S. reserves are pitiful.
Why, when the government is deeper in debt than ever in our history, is
this Congress borrowing billions every year to send to the least competent,
most corrupt regimes on earth? Why has the World Bank not been shut down, its
10,000 overpaid employees dismissed or the whole thing deeded over to Beijing
or Tokyo? Let them play world banker to deadbeat nations. They've got the money.
We don't anymore.
Whatever happened to the movement of Goldwater? What happened to the Party
of Reagan? Weren't we once going to put a stop to all this?
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