Ultimately, Riza was seconded to the State Department. To compensate her for the disruption of her career at the bank, she was promoted to the managerial level, and she has received two pay raises, bringing her salary to a hundred and ninety-three thousand dollars—more than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice makes. “The staff are very upset,” Alison Cave, the chairman of the World Bank Staff Group Association, said, explaining that the raises amounted to special treatment that violated established bank guidelines. Kevin Kellems told me that Wolfowitz had no involvement in Riza’s promotion or pay raises. “All arrangements concerning Shaha Ali Riza were made at the direction of the board of directors,” he said.
Wolfowitz landed at Atatürk International Airport, in Istanbul, at nine in the evening. The World Bank has about twenty projects in Turkey, and advises the government in Ankara on economic policy. Turkey is an example of a middle-income country that is rapidly modernizing and integrating itself into the world economy. It is also a vital Western ally: a stable, moderate Muslim democracy straddling Europe and Asia. “I made my first visit to Turkey in 1976, and it impressed me enormously,” Wolfowitz told a group of local politicians who greeted him at the gate. “Turkey is a very strategic country, which means it has some unpleasant neighbors. It is good to have a stable democracy in such a region.”
After spending the night at the Hilton, Wolfowitz had breakfast with about a dozen representatives of Turkish youth groups and visited the homeless shelter. Then he was driven to Dolmabahçe Palace, on the banks of the Bosporus, where he met the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who heads the Justice and Development Party. In early 2003, legislators from the Party supported an American request to use southern Turkey as a staging ground for the Iraq invasion, but the proposal was voted down in parliament. Wolfowitz later said to me, “I think it is very impressive that this party, which traditionally has been the most Islamic party in Turkey, is the one that is committed to modernization and reform.”
Not long afterward, Wolfowitz, half a dozen of his colleagues, and I boarded a Turkish military helicopter in the garden of the Dolmabahçe Palace. We made a sweeping turn over the Bosporus and flew northwest for about an hour. The first stop was in a town called Lüleburgaz, the headquarters of Sisecam, a Turkish glass manufacturer that has received funding from the International Finance Corporation, a World Bank subsidiary. Wolfowitz, wearing a hard hat and protective goggles, stared into furnaces, chatted with workers, and handled some of the glassware that Sisecam supplies to Wal-Mart and Crate & Barrel. Recently, Sisecam has bought factories in Russia and Georgia and invested in a plant in Bulgaria. The idea of a Turkish manufacturer competing successfully in the world market seemed to impress Wolfowitz. He asked the firm’s president, Dogan Arikan, if he was thinking about investing in stable African countries, such as Tanzania. Not at the moment, Arikan replied.
We then flew to Kirklareli, a remote village where the bank had helped finance irrigation canals. After landing on a soccer field near a school, Wolfowitz was escorted to a classroom, where about thirty farmers and their families presented him with a souvenir plate. A burly young man stood up and said that the existing open-irrigation system was fine, but that the village really needed a closed system. Wolfowitz turned to a bank staffer and asked if there were plans to upgrade the system. The official gave a long and evasive answer, which seemed to add up to no. “That was perhaps not the greatest project the World Bank has ever supported,” Wolfowitz said when we were back in the helicopter. “Perhaps we should have spent more time at the glass factory, but you never know in advance.”
In Edirne, on our way to the Selimiye Mosque, we stopped at a small house in a poor neighborhood largely inhabited by Gypsies. In the living room were Hüsniye Mine, a fifty-one-year-old Turkish woman; her disabled husband, Tuncay; her son, Sahan; and her daughter, Tugçe. Wolfowitz sat on a couch next to Sahan, who said to him, in English, “I am fourteen years old.” The family was receiving money from the Turkish government, under a program, financed in part by the bank, that encourages poor parents to keep their children in school. Hüsniye showed Wolfowitz her son’s and daughter’s report cards, which indicated that they were both on the honor roll. Wolfowitz asked Sahan, a skinny kid with brown hair and big brown eyes, what he did when he wasn’t in school. Sahan replied that he played soccer and chess, and Wolfowitz’s eyes lit up. “I played chess when I was about your age, and I was pretty good for a while,” he said. “Then my friends started studying the great chess players, and they would play the old games over again, and then I couldn’t keep up with them.” Sahan seemed impressed. “I am not that good, but I got a medal,” he said. “I came third in the province.”
In the first half of last year, Wolfowitz stepped up his anti-corruption campaign, suspending aid projects in India, Kenya, and Cambodia until allegations of corruption were resolved. (In these and other cases, the bank and the governments involved eventually settled their differences, and lending was resumed.) “What Paul is doing,” Karl Jackson, the bank consultant, told me, “is moving toward a system that says to poor governments, ‘If you want to steal from a project, we all’—the whole development community—‘will say that we are not going to lend you any more money until you demonstrate improved governance.’” Expressed this way, Wolfowitz’s actions seem eminently reasonable. “Transferring large amounts of money to corrupt governments isn’t just a waste of money; it is counter-productive,” Roger Bate, an expert on development policy at the American Enterprise Institute, said. “I’ve seen that in Nigeria, Uganda, and Ethiopia. But it takes a lot of courage to say we are going to withhold funds. There is a lot of pressure to continue business as usual.”
However, current and former World Bank officials, as well as a number of bank shareholders, have questioned Wolfowitz’s actions. Why were projects being suspended in India and not in Indonesia, which by many measures is more corrupt? Why Uzbekistan and not Tajikistan? Why Congo-Brazzaville and not the Democratic Republic of the Congo? “No one in the development community really understands what criteria we should use to withhold lending from poor countries,” Nancy Birdsall, the head of the Center for Global Development, a Washington think tank, said. “And they certainly didn’t understand what criteria were being used at the bank in the past year or so.” Roberto Dañino, the bank’s former general counsel, who resigned last year, said, “Paul needs to adopt a more balanced approach. Anti-corruption is not a silver bullet. You can have a country that is transparent, with no corruption problem, but if it doesn’t follow the right economic policy it won’t grow. That is what he is missing.”
A number of economists criticize Wolfowitz for exaggerating the role that corruption plays in retarding economic growth. “There are a lot of countries that we know perfectly well are corrupt but which have done very well economically,” John Williamson, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said. “Suharto’s Indonesia is an example.” (Wolfowitz was Ambassador to Indonesia from 1986 to 1989.) Joseph Stiglitz, who served as the World Bank’s chief economist from 1997 to 2000, and later won a Nobel Prize, said, “China has had an impressive record of growth and poverty reduction, and yet by many measures it does not score well on corruption.”
Many of Wolfowitz’s critics suspect that his motive in fighting corruption is political rather than economic. “I think he was completely genuine in the notion of bringing Western-style democracy to Iraq, the Middle East, and other areas,” Dennis de Tray said to me. “That hasn’t changed. He’s still committed to that agenda, and I think he sees the bank as another instrument to achieve what I see as long-held goals. The focus on ‘corruption’ and ‘good governance’—for him, those are code words for democracy and human rights. He knows he can’t use those words publicly, because the bank’s charter says we can’t engage with politics. But he goes pretty close by saying we are not going to deal with corrupt regimes anymore.”
When I asked Wolfowitz about the criticism that his agenda at the bank is political, he said, “I just don’t see how anyone can separate concern about good governance from concern about helping poor people survive and get a good education and good jobs. It’s all part of the same thing. There is no political agenda here. Any country that uses our money well—measured not by political standards but by what that country is doing for the poor—gets our support and will continue to get our support.”
On February 24, 2006, the World Bank’s board of executive directors met to discuss Wolfowitz’s demand for changes to Congo-Brazzaville’s debt-reduction agreement. The meeting, which lasted more than eight hours, was tense. Under the bank’s Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative, which began in 1996, impoverished countries are entitled to have some of their debts forgiven when they meet a series of economic targets, such as controlling inflation and liberalizing their economies. The bank’s staff had certified that Congo-Brazzaville had met its targets for provisional debt relief. In addition to trying to restrict how the Congolese government could use the money it would save on servicing its debt, Wolfowitz demanded further changes to the agreement. Some board members argued that he was overstepping his authority. “Wolfowitz was trying to change a procedure that had been agreed to by the G8, the I.M.F., and the bank,” one member told me. Twenty-two of the twenty-four board members opposed Wolfowitz’s demands, and he was forced to back down on some of them.
Two months after the meeting, the World Bank’s Development Committee, its principal advisory body, which is made up of government ministers from member countries, asked Wolfowitz to provide a set of guidelines for his anti-corruption drive. Even some of Wolfowitz’s allies believed that this was a good idea. “I said to him, If you do cherry-picking on anti-corruption, you are going to turn the bank into a U.S. foreign-policy instrument,” a former official, who recently left the bank, said. “People will say you are rewarding the U.S.’s friends and punishing its enemies. Even if you don’t mean it that way, people will think that is what has happened.” Wolfowitz agreed to present a strategy paper at the World Bank’s annual meeting, which was held in Singapore last September. Over the summer, Robin Cleveland and other members of his staff worked on the paper, which grew to more than sixty pages.
On September 13th, six days before the Singapore meeting, Hilary Benn, the British Secretary of State for International Development, announced that the United Kingdom was withholding from the World Bank a fifty-million-pound payment, to protest the conditions the bank attached to aid. In a speech in London, Benn objected to Wolfowitz’s actions on corruption: “Where problems arise, some people argue that we should suspend our aid or withdraw it completely. I don’t agree. Why should a child be denied education? Why should a mother be denied healthcare? Or an H.I.V.-positive person AIDS treatment, just because someone or something in their government is corrupt?” A former bank official who worked closely with the British delegation to the bank said that Benn was reacting to what Britain perceived as Wolfowitz’s unilateralism. “The Brits really think the bank is the best thing we’ve got for development, and that it should be run as a real multilateral agency,” this person said. “They felt that they were being gratuitously smacked around by Wolfowitz.”
In Singapore, Wolfowitz was rebuked by the Development Committee, which reserved for the bank’s board the right to determine how the anti-corruption policy would be finalized and executed. “Given the importance of this issue,” the committee said in a public statement, “we stressed the importance of Board oversight of the strategy as it is further developed and then implemented.” Never before had a president of the bank received such a public reprimand.
When Wolfowitz returned to Washington, he seemed chastened. He soon flew to London to meet with Benn and his staff; to Paris, where he gave a speech on Africa; and to Strasbourg, where he spoke to members of the European Parliament. Meanwhile, the anti-corruption paper was sent to dozens of governments and hundreds of nongovernmental organizations for comment. By the end of January, most had responded. “The main message is that even most governments want us to be doing this work,” Wolfowitz told me. “There really is widespread recognition that governance is one of the key elements of successful development.”
Wolfowitz may be exaggerating the support he has garnered. “It is not the bank’s role to be the world’s policeman,” Barbara Stocking, the director of Oxfam, the influential British advocacy group, told me. “The bank’s role is poverty reduction. We all agree that when you’ve got a Mobutu-style government you can’t put aid through it effectively. But most of the world isn’t like that. It’s much more nuanced.”
Last month, Wolfowitz presented to the board a revised version of his anti-corruption paper, in which he made several concessions. While reserving for the bank’s management the right to suspend projects where graft was suspected, the paper asserted that the bank should remain engaged in countries with serious corruption problems and should consider suspending lending to a particular country only in “exceptional” circumstances. “Don’t make the poor pay twice,” the paper said. Wolfowitz also agreed to consult more closely with the board, which unanimously approved the paper, and to seek its support before trying to suspend lending to individual countries. “I think that for his own survival he has had to make a deal,” Roger Bate, of the American Enterprise Institute, said. “The shareholders of the bank are very powerful. His job is potentially at risk.”
In a conversation with me, Wolfowitz called the new draft “a very, very good paper,” but he also appeared to diminish the scope of his anti-corruption initiative. “I didn’t think it was an initiative, to be honest with you,” he said. “I’m still a bit surprised that something as obvious as that runs into resistance in some quarters.” In fact, he continued, he had decided to pursue corruption only after being encouraged to do so by Africans on the bank’s board and by some of its employees. “From my point of view, the most important thing was sending a message to the staff that, if many countries really wanted to address these issues, they would be backed up if they did that.”
It is true that, beginning in the mid-nineties, some staffers urged the bank to confront corruption more aggressively. Daniel Kaufmann, a Chilean economist who is the director of global programs at the World Bank Institute, the bank’s training arm, has for years argued that reducing corruption and improving governance are necessary to fight poverty. “I wouldn’t exaggerate my influence,” Kaufmann said when I spoke to him recently, adding that Wolfowitz “arrived at the bank, as Wolfensohn before him, already convinced that this was an extremely important issue in development.”
Wolfowitz has a history of playing down controversial ideas that emerge under his imprimatur. In 1992, when he was Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy, members of his staff drafted a paper called “Defense Planning Guidance,” which promulgated a vision of the United States as the sole superpower, actively discouraging other nations from challenging its leadership. After the document was leaked, Wolfowitz claimed that he hadn’t read it. In 1998, he signed a petition on the letterhead of the Project for the New American Century, a neoconservative think tank, urging President Clinton to pursue regime change in Iraq using “a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts.” And yet, in one of our talks, he objected to being publicly associated with the think tank, saying that in the late nineties he had disagreed with the group’s call for a substantial increase in the size of the military. After September 11th, Wolfowitz sought to minimize the novelty of taking preëmptive military action against Iraq, arguing that the threat posed by Saddam and the collapse of U.N. sanctions left the United States and its allies little choice but to act.
After leaving the Selimiye Mosque, we were driven to a nearby restaurant, where Wolfowitz had dinner with mayors and governors from both sides of Turkey’s border with Bulgaria, which is ten miles from Edirne. The dinner lasted several hours and featured half a dozen courses as well as numerous speeches, and by the time we boarded a Turkish military helicopter for the flight back to Istanbul it was almost ten o’clock. I sat next to Wolfowitz, who promptly nodded off. For about half an hour, we flew south without incident. It was a clear night, and the lights from remote farmhouses and hamlets were visible. Then we hit something—an air pocket, a hailstorm, it was impossible to tell. The helicopter shook violently and plunged down to the right. For a few moments, it seemed that the pilot had lost control. Looking out the window, I saw the ground rushing toward us. Mercifully, the aircraft levelled off.
Wolfowitz, who had been shaken awake, said nothing, and neither did any of the other passengers on board. Cold air was rushing in from somewhere, and Patrick English, the head of Wolfowitz’s security detail, appeared from the front of the helicopter and said that the co-pilot’s door had sheared off and fallen to the ground. We flew on, slower and lower than before. A few minutes later, English said that the pilot had offered to land at a nearby airstrip, where we could wait for another helicopter to pick us up. Wolfowitz said that he wanted to continue.
For about forty minutes, we sat in frozen silence. After we landed at Atatürk airport, Wolfowitz climbed into his waiting car, and when we got to the Hilton he went straight to his room. Some of the other passengers met for drinks at a lounge in the hotel. “I thought it had hit a bird and taken a bit of time to spit it out,” Shigeo Katsu, the bank vice-president, said with a nervous laugh.
At the end of October, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wolfowitz had pressed reluctant World Bank staffers to establish a permanent office in Baghdad. The article revealed that he was meeting regularly with wounded American soldiers in Washington, that he had dispatched Robin Cleveland on a fact-finding mission to Baghdad, and that he had replaced the bank’s top official in the Middle East. The story confirmed what other sources had been saying to me: Wolfowitz was still deeply engaged with the war in Iraq.
“I can’t start saying things that draw me into what is a major debate about Iraq policy,” he said when I asked him whether he still thought that invading Iraq had been a good idea. “There’s a lot in the record out there that I hope to correct some day, because I’ve been mischaracterized fairly often . . . but this isn’t the time for me to do that.” I reminded Wolfowitz that President Bush had recently conceded that errors had been made in the prosecution of the war. “I said that long before any other official in the U.S. Administration,” Wolfowitz replied. “I got front-page headlines in the Washington Post when I said it. It was also an object lesson in how even the most sincere, well-intentioned comment can suddenly plunge you into a debate. I go back to my point here: it would be totally disorientating for this institution if my views became a subject of major discussion right now.”
In the article, which appeared on July 24, 2003, Wolfowitz stated that U.S. officials had underestimated the problems they would face after deposing Saddam. But he has said little to suggest that he feels personally responsible for the misleading marketing of the war or its subsequent mishandling. Geoffrey Lamb, a former vice-president of the World Bank, said, “With McNamara, you knew from Day One, although he never said it, that his presidency of the bank was expiation. I don’t think that’s true of Paul. My strong guess is that he doesn’t think he has anything to expiate.”
A former Bush Administration official, deflecting the issue of Wolfowitz’s culpability, cited mistakes made by other officials during the early stages of the American occupation. “Paul succeeded in making the argument inside the Administration that Saddam had to go,” the former Administration official said to me. “He lost key arguments over implementation.” After the invasion, Wolfowitz wanted to establish a new Iraqi government made up of prominent Iraqi exiles, including Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress. When the White House ruled out this option, he changed tack, advocating local caucuses and regional elections, which he hoped would eventually result in the creation of a new central government. “The caucus was held in the south, and a meeting was planned for central Iraq, but Bremer killed it,” the former Administration official said. “He saw it as a challenge to his authority.” After Bremer arrived in Baghdad, Wolfowitz’s influence in the Pentagon waned. An ambitious reconstruction program that he had helped plan failed to materialize; relations with his boss, Donald Rumsfeld, deteriorated; and by the end of 2004 many of his suggestions were being ignored.
Kenneth Adelman, a Republican foreign-policy expert and prominent neoconservative, says that Wolfowitz should have resigned in protest over the mismanagement of the war. “He cared deeply about Iraq,” Adelman, who has known Wolfowitz since the mid-seventies, told me. “He was at the Pentagon getting briefings that, after the end of 2003 at the latest, were saying things are going terribly, terribly wrong. And he watches it and does nothing to turn it around.” Even if Wolfowitz hadn’t been willing to quit, Adelman went on, he should have made his views known to the President or to Vice-President Dick Cheney. “Dick really was very fond of Paul,” Adelman said. “He could have gone to Dick and said, ‘Look, I don’t want to talk out of school, but listen. This is the President’s No. 1 priority and it’s all going to hell.’” Adelman told me that he still respects Wolfowitz but questions his motivations in maintaining silence. “I wish there was another explanation than personal ambition,” Adelman said. “He wanted to be a statesman and get a job like the World Bank presidency. He didn’t get the job as a reward for keeping quiet, but he got it as a consequence of keeping quiet.”
Kevin Kellems vigorously disputed the suggestion that Wolfowitz’s nomination to the bank was a reward for his silence. “There was a vacancy,” Kellems said. “He was asked if he was interested. He said yes. It’s a step up from being Deputy Secretary of Defense and a great opportunity to make a difference. This had nothing to do with Iraq.”
In building up the World Bank’s presence in Iraq, Wolfowitz is hoping that it is not too late to improve the situation there. “The bank’s role, I am happy to talk about,” he said. “Actually, in a certain sense, it tells you that there is a lot to be worked with if security can be established. This is a country whose biggest problem is how to manage tens of millions of dollars of annual revenues. I wish most of our clients had that problem.” I asked him how he could simultaneously argue that the bank should stop lending to corrupt countries and become more involved in Iraq, which now trails only Haiti in some rankings of the most corrupt countries on earth. “It’s a problem to work on,” Wolfowitz said. “I get inaccurately characterized on this governance issue as saying the bank should disengage. To the contrary, the basic point of the anti-corruption strategy is that we have to find ways to engage in countries with problems. In Iraq, there are certainly a lot of people who want to improve the system, who actually look to the World Bank as an ally in doing so.”
In recent years, the bank has expanded its activities in other countries that have lately experienced war, such as Bosnia, Timor-Leste, and Liberia. In June, 2003, when Wolfowitz was still at the Pentagon, the bank joined the U.N. in an assessment of Iraq’s reconstruction needs. With the help of donations from Britain, Japan, and the European Community, the bank established an Iraq Trust Fund, which, by the summer of 2004, was financing projects to repair schools damaged by the war, build new ones, and improve Baghdad’s water supply. Various Iraqi ministries were supposed to carry out the work, with bank staffers supervising from Amman, Jordan. In November, 2005, the bank’s board approved the first project in Iraq to be financed by the International Development Agency, the arm of the bank that lends to the poorest countries.
There are conflicting versions of what happened next. Wolfowitz says that before he arrived at the bank its Middle East and North Africa department had begun a plan to establish a permanent office in Baghdad. Several other people said that the idea originated in Wolfowitz’s office, and that Chrik Poortman, the head of MENA, opposed it—in part for security reasons, and in part because he didn’t think the plan would work. The bank had staffers in Baghdad until August, 2003, when one of them was killed by a bomb that destroyed the United Nations headquarters. The remaining staffers were evacuated, and a backup office was established in Amman. “Chrik was prepared to put people back in Baghdad, but he didn’t think the performance of the bank projects would be enhanced by that move,” a former MENA official told me. “The people would have been stuck in the Green Zone. He decided to work through Iraqis, and he had a team of them in Baghdad ready to go.”
The dispute between Poortman and his superiors went beyond the question of whether to set up an office in Baghdad. “There was deep disappointment at the top about the fact that our projects in Iraq weren’t making much progress,” the former MENA official said. “Disbursements were low.” Poortman, having worked as country director for the Balkans in the nineties, knew that governments established in the wake of a violent conflict rarely have the skills or the infrastructure to use large sums of money wisely, and Iraq was no exception. If the World Bank insisted on spending a great deal of money, much of it could end up being stolen or wasted. To avoid this outcome, Poortman concentrated on “capacity building”: bringing Iraqis to Amman or Washington, and teaching them how to run big reconstruction projects.
Wolfowitz didn’t think that this policy was effective. “It is easy to think of supervising contracts long distance, but when the real purpose is dialogue with policymakers it is hard to do that from long distance,” he said to me. “It’s much better to be in close and present.” Last fall, Wolfowitz replaced Poortman with Daniela Gressani, an Italian economist who had worked on his transition team. (He offered Poortman a less senior post in central Asia, and Poortman resigned.) Gressani is now in the process of hiring a new country manager for Iraq and setting up an office in the Green Zone.
The decision to establish a World Bank office in Baghdad seemed to confirm the fears of Wolfowitz’s critics about his intentions. “Paul couldn’t do nation-building in the Pentagon, because Rumsfeld and the military didn’t want anything to do with it,” Dennis de Tray told me. “He saw the World Bank as another way to make it happen. It lends money; it’s got people on the ground in the region; it knows the terrain. I really think that was one of the attractions of the job to him.”
I had heard a rumor, which I relayed to Wolfowitz, that he had been talking to Ambassador Khalilzad and to General David Petraeus, the new Coalition military commander in Iraq. “I don’t remember talking to Khalilzad for a long time, and it was about someone he was recommending for a personnel job in the World Bank,” Wolfowitz said. “I talked to the U.S. authorities, especially the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and the State Department people, about the reconstruction effort. I got one request from Petraeus, looking at whether we could free up some existing money for job programs in Iraq. It’s a reasonable thing. I’m happy to look at it, but that’s kind of the extent of it.” Wolfowitz went on, “I don’t want to minimize it. As I’ve said, we have no control over the security situation—obviously, we in the bank—but, to the extent that security can be established, the economic role is hugely important. The more people see that they have a stake in peace, the more we will have peace.”
When Robert McNamara arrived at the World Bank, one of the first things he did was to draft a five-year plan, which aimed at doubling lending. When the five years were over, in 1973, he produced another five-year plan, focussed on rural development. Current and former bank staffers say that Wolfowitz has been averse to making decisions, slow at filling vacancies, and unwilling or unable to lay out a strategy for the bank, beyond battling corruption. A few months after he took over, officials in the bank’s finance and planning departments presented Wolfowitz with several proposals for shifting resources to Africa from other parts of the world. “There were three options: one marginal, one moderate, and one radical,” a former bank staffer recalled. “The radical option said, ‘Cut the budget significantly from other parts of the bank, such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and move all the money to Africa.’ He looked up and said, ‘That sounds good.’ But nothing ever happened. He didn’t make a decision.” (According to the Government Accountability Project, a Washington watchdog group, the World Bank’s lending to Africa in the first three quarters of fiscal year 2007, which began last July, has fallen by a billion dollars compared with the same period in the 2006 fiscal year.)
Some important positions at the World Bank have been empty for months. The East Asia and Pacific department, which includes three of the bank’s biggest borrowers—China, Indonesia, and Vietnam—lacked a vice-president for more than a year. The Africa department didn’t have one for three months. “I get a lot of calls from people in the bank looking for jobs,” a veteran development expert said to me recently. “They are disillusioned with Paul. They think there is no other shoe to drop. There isn’t going to be a moment when his vision becomes clear and he defines where he wants to take the bank. It just isn’t there. It’s nothing to do with his record in Iraq, with being a neocon, all that stuff. It has to do with being an executive and a leader. I say this with great regret. I wanted him to succeed, and I still want him to succeed. McNamara had a lot of baggage, but he carried it with him to the bank and did great things.”
The chances are that Wolfowitz will remain in office until 2010, when, if the Democrats win the White House, he will almost certainly be replaced. After more than thirty years in Washington, he is used to political power struggles and institutional infighting. Since the mid-seventies, when he was part of Team B, he has been challenging entrenched bureaucracies. “I don’t want to be flip here,” he said not long ago, sitting at a table in his wood-panelled office on the twelfth floor of the World Bank’s headquarters. “But if no one was complaining, then nothing would be happening.”
Wolfowitz’s allies point out that James Wolfensohn also generated controversy during his first years at the bank, but by the time he left he was generally recognized as having been a good president. “Bureaucracies are not easy to change; those of us who have worked in them know that,” Karl Jackson said. “If you had interviewed people at this stage in Jim Wolfensohn’s tenure, you would have concluded he was the Devil incarnate.” In recent months, Wolfowitz has filled some of the vacancies created by resignations, and most of his hires have been foreigners. “I’ve brought in a Swedish executive vice-president of the I.F.C., an Italian chief financial officer, a Salvadoran managing director, a New Zealander managing director, a Spanish general counsel,” he said. “I’ve got a woman from Ghana who’s my chief of staff, and the deputy is a man from Ivory Coast. Most recently, I’ve brought in a vice-president for human development who is a woman from Botswana, and I will shortly have a Jordanian man as vice-president for external affairs. Best I can tell, none of those people are American.” (Critics inside the bank point out that Cleveland, Folsom, Kellems, and Jackson remain in place, and that many of Wolfowitz’s appointments are people from countries that have actively or tacitly supported the Iraq war.)
A couple of weeks ago, Wolfowitz pushed through an internal reorganization, aimed at enabling the World Bank to send money more rapidly to disaster areas. He insisted that he was enjoying himself at the bank, and said he was optimistic that he would get the financial commitments necessary to secure its future. “I think one of the most important points to get across to all the donors is that even though there is a lot you can do bilaterally, a great deal of that depends on having a system in place that requires multilateral funding,” he said. “I certainly wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in the importance of multilateral institutions.”
The morning after Wolfowitz’s visit to the Selimiye Mosque, his bare toes featured prominently in the Turkish newspapers. “PRESIDENT WITH A HOLE IN THE SOCKS,” the headline in Sabah said. “THE BOSS OF MONEY HAS A HOLE IN HIS SOCK,” Posta declared. None of the papers reported the aerial emergency, but it was on Wolfowitz’s mind. “I’m wondering if we should be flying at all in those sorts of conditions,” he said. “Helicopters are tricky. They’re not supposed to fly at all.” After having breakfast with representatives of several local nongovernmental organizations, he visited a paper-recycling depot on the outskirts of Istanbul, another client of the I.F.C. Then he went to the airport, where he thanked the bank’s local staff for making his trip a success, saying, “I think we got five days of visits into a day and a half.” Somebody brought up the threadbare socks, and Wolfowitz smiled. “It’s a good joke,” he said. “I’m glad I went to the mosque.”
Before returning to Washington, Wolfowitz met for an interview with Mehmet Ali Birand, a nightly news anchor on Turkish television. “He saved me once,” Birand told me as he sat on a makeshift set at the terminal, preparing his questions. “The Turkish military wanted my head, and he intervened.”
In 1998, Wolfowitz, then at Johns Hopkins, was visiting Istanbul for a conference organized by the American Enterprise Institute. Birand had written columns calling for better treatment of Turkey’s Kurds, and his employer, Sabah, had been forced by senior members of the military to lay him off. Wolfowitz, informed of Birand’s plight, met with him in Istanbul. “Paul’s intervention was crucial,” Birand recalled. “General Bir, the No. 2 guy in the military, was an old friend of his. He talked to him and said, ‘Look, you can’t do this.’ ”
Birand got a new job, and he and Wolfowitz stayed in touch. I asked Birand how the war in Iraq had affected Turkish views of Wolfowitz. “Now people think he is doing a good job for the poor at the World Bank,” Birand replied. “It is like Robin Hood: stealing from the rich to give to the poor. If he had stayed at the Pentagon, it would have been different. At first, public opinion was in favor of the war. But, when the Americans fucked up, that changed. Now the Turks are furious—with themselves as well. They think, How could we do this?”
Wolfowitz walked onto the set and greeted Birand warmly. Most of Birand’s questions were about Turkey’s economic situation, but toward the end of the interview he asked, “How do you see Iraq? Disintegrated, or getting better?” Wolfowitz parried. “I don’t have a crystal ball,” he replied. “I do know what’s best for the Iraqi people, and that’s a peaceful, stable, unified country, and I know that’s the Turkish view as well.” Birand said that many Turks were frightened by what was happening in Iraq. “There have been a lot of frightening things in Iraq over the last thirty years,” Wolfowitz said. “It will calm down?” Birand asked. “I hope so,” Wolfowitz said