Monday, March 21, 2005

Shlaes on Bolton and Wolfowitz

Amity Shlaes has a very good analysis on the appointment of John Bolton to the UN and of Paul Wolfowitz to the World Bank. Link.
Multilateralists around the globe ought to be thrilled about these choices. These men are not going to endanger the future of the UN or the World Bank. Those futures are already in danger. Rather, the new candidates may turn out to be the institutions' salvation. For both men are strong enough to bring about change when change is necessary. Theodore Roosevelt gets cited too often in the context of the Bush administration but this time the comparison is apt. "Speak softly and carry a big stick." If Messrs Bolton and Wolfowitz get their jobs, they will practise muscular diplomacy. (...)

The new nominees by contrast are not conciliators. Mr Bolton wants to defenestrate the most egregiously corrupt diplomats and to steer the body back toward to the original intent of its framers: war prevention. Mr Wolfowitz served at the Pentagon in a period when it led the restructuring of Nato. On Friday he said carefully that he will not impose a "US line" at the World Bank. Still, he is likely to mount a similar restructuring there and shift its emphasis to nation-building and economic growth. His World Bank projects will reflect his experience in Indonesia where, as ambassador, he promoted stability and growth by promoting openness (read: democracy). In the 1990s, Mr Wolfowitz wrote prescient papers on the costs of inaction in foreign policy. He will make a good partner for Karen Hughes and Condoleezza Rice at the State Department in facilitating the creation of economic opportunity in the Middle East (translation: pressuring dinosaur Egypt).

It is ironic, but these nominations show that President Bush has not totally lost faith in these seemingly worthless organizations. Rather than write them off and send mediocrities to positions there, he is sending his best in an attempt to save them. It is arguable whether these two organizations are worth saving, but it appears beyond argument that these two men are among the best available bets to reform them in ways that might make them meaningful in the future.


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