Thursday, October 11, 2007

How Quickly He Forgets

Robert Zoellick, the new president of the World Bank, said that, in addition to providing help for the world’s poorest countries, assistance should be provided for “middle income” countries such as China “coping with problems resulting from their fast-growing economies” (here).

Uh, I don’t think so…

In the first speech outlining his priorities for the bank since he became its president in the summer, Mr. Zoellick sought to rebut critics who say that the bank should stop helping China, India, Brazil and other countries that can tap capital markets and even carry out foreign aid programs on their own.

Indeed, in response to that criticism, the bank has lent less money to these countries in recent years.

But Mr. Zoellick said that 70 percent of the world’s poor live in countries that are prospering over all and that aid was needed to help them deal with environmental damage, energy shortages and other internal problems that breed instability. These countries also need more sophisticated capital markets, he said.
And it seems like Bob has taken that inimitable Bushco CEO method of screwing things up with him to his new role.

Some bank executives and officials from development ministries say the new president has been less than clear in outlining his priorities. Many are reluctant to contribute to the bank’s efforts for the poorest countries without knowing more of his thinking.

Mr. Zoellick, however, has told aides that he does not want to focus too much energy on long documents, regarding them as Soviet-style bureaucratic planning.
God forbid bank officials actually know what it is that they’re doing under their new boss, right?

I’m not going to comment on India or Brazil here, Mr. World Bank President, but let me point out why neither you nor anyone else outside of China should do a thing to help it with its “problems” due to prosperity, aided in no small part by financing the debt we so stupidly imparted to them.

Do you remember a place called Darfur?

While you were still officially tethered to Bushco, you traveled there about two years ago and preached about how glorious the world of capital markets is to some of the poorest people on earth.

Well, Darfur is still in crisis, and though I’m not sure how many or how much can actually be salvaged at this point due to the mass political palsy demonstrated by every developed nation on earth, one way you could start to help is by following up on the recommendation of new UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown here (he’s calling for China to exert some of its considerable influence in the crisis there and the one in Myanmar).

You could tell China that any benefit they receive from your good graces at the World Bank would be conditional based on intervening in those conflicts.

And China would be angry. Very angry, I’m sure. But you’d be sending a message, and in the tidy, often oh-so-posh-and-genteel world of diplomacy that you seem to know well, I’m sure all parties could reach an accommodation of sorts (hell, just about anything would be better than the horrific status quo).

See, it has to do with something called Human Rights, Mr. World Bank President (as a former Enron crony and Bushco apologist of course, I realize you wouldn’t know anything about that). If you want the bank to truly act as an agent of change on behalf of those in the world who need it the most, you must consider that also.

But just stay out of any issue that may arise involving counterfeit currency, please; as noted here, you were feeling pretty triumphant about the havoc wreaked on legitimate British bankers when trying to nail Kim Jong Il, who subsequently stepped up his long-range missile testing as a result (tempers have quieted down lately, but please leave well enough alone there also, OK?).

No comments: